an interview with mary elizabeth peterson


Today I’m sharing a little interview with Mary Elizabeth Peterson, a contemporary abstract artist based in Connecticut. I first discovered her work via Pottery Barn (where so many good things come from), as she currently sells some work on their site like this gorgeous painting that I’m hoping to buy soon. Read on to learn about her inspirations and how she got started, and check out more of her work here. Thanks, Mary Elizabeth!

How did you get started?

I began oil painting in private lessons at age nine. It was clear from the start that I had an exciting “mind’s eye” and that it would need to be developed. But art school seemed too risky so I pursued a degree and skill in journalism. I was a young, rising star VP at a national brokerage house in 1997 when I learned I would need 11 hours of life-threatening brain surgery. With major brain surgery they save the “life support” form for last. The last-minute timing is actually good. There’s no time to think. You just have to trust in your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. I wrote: “if I can’t paint, pull the plug.” At the time, that statement didn’t even have the slightest practical application in my life! It was literally hidden between the lines. But when I was finally able to work again after my surgery I started dropping in on classes at The Corcoran College of Art + Design. I’m pretty sure my art career would have never happened if I hadn’t needed brain surgery. I could not be more happy and fulfilled than I am today as a full-time artist!

How did the Pottery Barn collaboration come about?

The short answer is: Pottery Barn found me! I have been licensing work to them and a handful of other retailers and dealers.

mary elizabeth

3.   My art originates from visual memories of remote landscapes, waterways and intriguing natural objects like seedpods. I sort this “mental slideshow” and cull out elements that are not strictly representational but strike me as being somehow or even vaguely familiar.

4.   For the last six years I have been working in a three-story lakeside sunroom studio. I moved recently and I am looking for a new space. I NEED to be near water to be most creative!

5.   I have been nursing two “coffee table book” ideas for a long time and I am close to actually finishing one about accidental art or art made by passersby!




  1. September 2, 2015 / 11:43 am

    Wow – how gorgeous! I have been all about wall art lately and am looking to upgrade my collection. And a three-story lakeside sunroom studio? I’ve never been more jealous!

    xx Larisa @