Petersen Thomas - Blue Zenith

As children, most of us picked up a crayon or two to create refrigerator masterpieces that our moms and dads would dutifully display, but for Petersen Thomas, those early abstracts were stepping stones into a second career midway through life.

We say "second career" because although he received a studio art degree from Denison University, Thomas become a lawyer in order to please his parents, especially his mom who had a hard time understanding art as a career. By day, Thomas kept justice alive, but also moonlighted as a children's textbook illustrator to ensure his other passion remained strong. "It was fun, but, obviously, wouldn't be the same living you could make as a lawyer," he comfortably reflects.

Thomas practiced law for a decade and was on the fast track for a partnership, but as much as he loved what he did, he loved painting more. "One day at lunch, the managing partner said that if I just tweaked my billables up one notch, they'd make the partner offer," he remembers. "I loved working with those guys, but at that moment I knew that if I said yes, every single event in my life for the next twenty years was pre-ordained. It looked like a gilded cage and it gave me the willies."

Much to his parents' dismay, Thomas returned full-time to the artist's path in 2000. Today, his paintings and portraits, which can be seen nationwide, incorporate several distinct styles including abstraction, realism and expressionism and are full of texture and color. And believe it or not, Thomas' law background has helped him with this art. "Law trains you to hold yourself and others accountable. In art, the temptation to be a flake and goofball is huge," he reflects. "I guess my lawyer side keeps me focused on the "practice" of being an artist. It makes sure that I keep the Web site current, follow up on every lead and take the business side of art as seriously as the creative act."

To view Thomas' work for yourself, visit