Author/Illustrator Mary Peterson“Don’t think your picture should look like someone else’s picture. Every artist has her own story to tell!”

Mary Peterson’s story began on a small farm in Iowa surrounded by cornfields and herds of cows. The youngest of six children, Mary grew up in an active household immersed in art. Her mother, a self-taught portrait painter, kept Mary and her brothers and her sisters busy with art projects. She made sure there were plenty of crayons, markers, and paper in the house. During weekly trips to the library, Mary’s mother introduced her to the great Renaissance artists. When her mother began taking extension art classes at the local university, Mary went with her.

“I was always quiet and content,” Mary recalls. “While observing the students in my mom’s art classes, it came together in my head that art could be more than a hobby; it could be an identity.”

Mary knew then she wanted to be an artist. She decided to study fine art, receiving her BFA in studio painting from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. After college Mary moved to Los Angeles.

“It was quite a shock to move from rural Iowa to Los Angeles. I was very lonely at first,” Mary remembers. “I didn’t realize how much I relied on my friends and family and how much I would miss them.”

Mary found solace in art. She worked as a freelance graphic designer, and she painted in her free time.

One day a client asked Mary to develop characters for a prospective children’s television show. Her client loved her characters, and Mary loved working on the project.  While the show did not get picked up, Mary knew she had finally found her place in the art world and in Los Angeles.

“I discovered the art form that I am most suited for. The pictures I like most to look at and to paint all told stories, but until then I had not thought about telling stories to children,” she says. Now, Mary spends each day thinking of the best way to tell stories through her art.

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Books by Mary Peterson