Local Artist Feature: Loni Theisen


We took a moment to sit down and sit with our featured artist we hosted for our brick & mortar fall Gallery Night in town, Loni Theisen! We asked her a few questions about what her life is like as an artist, creative process and how she came to get into her style of art.

Let’s introduce yourself to everyone! Who are you and what do you do?

Well, my name is Loni Theisen. I’m a Milwaukee native born and bred, but now live and work from my home in Slinger, WI. I began my career as a graphic designer/illustrator at several studios and agencies locally for about a decade before taking that very scary entrepreneurial leap opening my own design business (Studio Z Cre8iv) about 25 years ago. I still will work on the occasional commercial job but am concentrating my efforts more in the fine art field now - namely portraiture.


When did you start working in your medium? What is it about your medium you love and enjoy most about the process?

Drawing has always been my forte so when I started experimenting in fine art my medium of choice was charcoal. Eventually I found myself becoming frustrated with how that medium seemed to stifle me. Everything I did felt very controlled and extremely tight. It became “work” for me instead of fun. I was also craving color. My current medium is acrylics. I never liked working with them before because of how quickly they dry, so painting with them was challenging. After experimenting on different surfaces and playing around with how I treat each surface before applying paint I found a way to “draw” with them, yay! That gave me the confidence I needed to convince me to experiment more. I discovered I especially like working with them on wood panels. I usually paint a layer of gesso first as a base which allows me to pull up any color with water or sandpaper, or even an eraser and makes it feel like I’m drawing.


Were you formally trained in your artistic field? How did you get to end up working in the medium that you do?

I did attend MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design) and received my degree in Commercial Art with a major in illustration and a minor in design. That was where I got my first taste of acrylics and absolutely hated them! Now that fine art is my focus I thought I’d try them again. As much as I love the look, feel, smell and qualities of oils I felt it worth trying a medium that was more challenging and ultimately won’t kill me down the road. Plus, I’m frugal and lets face it, they’re cheaper!



What is your favorite tool you work with when creating and why? What does it do?

There are two tools I love, the first being the computer. After years of working digitally I now use the computer as a tool to layout, colorize and stylize how I want my pieces to look in the end. I use this as my first step in any piece I create but only as a guide. The second tool would be a Faber-Castell Perfection 7058-B pencil eraser. This allows me to blend or pull up color wet or dry. 


Do you have a background other than art?

Actually I’ve been blessed with art (commercial and fine) being my career my entire grown up life. So I can honestly say my dream has come true!


What do you love about your art community?

I truly love being a part of the art community in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. It’s vibrant, fun, creative and welcoming. And I want to thank Lori Boldig and The Gallori so very much for your generous support in giving me the opportunity to show my work in your incredibly creative space.


What is your favorite place to go when in Oconomowoc?

Now this is going to seem like I’m brown nosing but when it comes to art - my favorite shop is The Gallori - no lie! It’s my go to place when I’m in Oconomowoc.