Yarkin was born in Orenburg in 1939. His early training was at the Art school in Penza, near the Volga. He was in the Red Army for three years then taught at the local art school at Penza before being accepted at the Repin Academy in St. Petersburg where he was a student and protégé Professor Victor Oreshnikov. His diploma painting in 1972-74 was "The Oreshnikov Masterclass" In 1979 he was commissioned to record the construction of the Baikal Railway and given a studio in the Maritime Museum in St. Petersburg. Yarkin visited Australia in the 1970s as official artist on the Soviet Antarctic Expedition. Most of his work is lodged in the Navy Museum, St Petersburg.