At the age of eighteen, Peterson enrolled in the Pratt Institute in New York City and studied with Arthur Dow, graduating in 1901. She also studied at the Art Students League with Frank DuMond and later, studied in Paris, living around the corner from Gertrude and Leo Stein, who invited Peterson to many of their soirees where she met leading intellectuals including Picasso and Matisse. She went on to study in Venice and in London with Frank Brangwyn, and in Madrid with Joaquin Sorolla. Her combined techniques and styles from a variety of teachers resulted in Expressionist and Impressionist styles using broad swaths color to combine an interest in light and depiction of spontaneous moments. Peterson became famous for a wide range of works from landscapes to still-lives that blend Impressionist and Expressionist movements.