Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1963 to a Danish father and American mother, Peter spent his elementary school years in New York City attending Manhattan Country School. As a child, Peter enjoyed making art, and though he was encouraged in his artmaking (his grandmother gave him his first oil paint set when he was 12 years old), the idea of becoming an artist never crossed his mind. In 8th grade, Peter enrolled at the Dalton School where he frequently took art classes, studying with the likes of Aaron Khurzen. Peter graduated from Dalton in 1981, still not considering himself an artist.
During his freshman year at Williams College, Peter took an introductory art history course and discovered he had a knack for the subject. He decided to become an Art History major. In spring of his sophomore year, taking a basic drawing course as part of his major requirement, Peter unexpectedly found himself in his element: he received an A-plus grade. Though it was too late to change his major, with the encouragement of his professor (Ed Epping), Peter went on to enroll in as many studio courses as his schedule would allow.
In fall of 1983 as a junior, Peter spent a semester abroad in Florence, an experience that proved pivotal. He fell in love with looking at art, traveling each weekend to one Italian city or another to see its cathedrals and art museums. It was then—able to travel wherever he chose to go, fully an agent of his own fate—that he made a monumental realization: he could be what he wanted to be, and he wanted to be an artist.