Elizabeth Styring Nutt was born on the Isle of Man in 1870, but moved to Sheffield, England, following the death of her father. She studied at the Sheffield School of Art between 1897 and 1900, with fellow students (and Sheffield natives) Arthur Lismer and Frederick H. Varley. She also studied at the Newlyn School (Cornwall) with Stanhope Forbes, and later at the Sorbonne and in Florence. Her 1914 master’s thesis, on the subject of the teaching of colour, lead to her being elected as a fellow of the National Society of Art Masters of the United Kingdom.
Nutt began her art teaching career at the Firs Hill Branch Art School (Sheffield), later teaching with the Sheffield School of Art and the Sheffield Training College for Teachers. During this period of her life, she spent several years writing for various publications, largely on art matters.
In October 1919, Nutt arrived in Halifax to become principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design, succeeding Arthur Lismer, who recommended her as his successor. She remained in this position until 1943, successfully guiding the school through a period of growth, including its transformation into the degree granting Nova Scotia College of Art.
She exhibited with the Nova Scotia Society of Artists, of which she was a founding member (1922) and President (1929-1932), the Royal Canadian Academy, the Ontario Society of Artists, and the Art Association of Montreal, as well as the Sheffield Society of Artists, the Royal Academy (London) and the Paris Salon. In 1929, Nutt was elected Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy.
Her work, rooted in English landscape painting, often showed a preference for English buildings, bridges and waterways - she would travel to England to paint in the summers - but she also painted many Nova Scotian subjects. Her paintings are in the National Gallery of Canada, the Nova Scotia Museum, Dalhousie University Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Sheffield.
She returned to England in 1945 and died in 1946, in Sheffield.