Raised in a creative family, Sonja Oldenburg was introduced to the arts by her parents while growing up in Oshkosh. She was supplied with the tools to make art since she could hold a pencil. Although it was mostly scribbles at first, this was the start of Oldenburg’s art journey.
Now living in Menasha, Oldenburg mainly creates colored pencil drawings and watercolor paintings, but also enjoys creating mixed media pieces with metallic acrylic paint and gel pens. She loves creating lush details and having control with the pencil, while adding loose, unexpected elements with watercolor, both of which are her preferred art mediums.
Oldenburg focuses on nature-based subjects such as birds and animals, and fills in her illustrations with flowers, insects and leaves. Oldenburg’s creative process starts by choosing a subject to focus on for a piece, then she spontaneously works from the inside out adding more details as she works. She aims for her work to show the energy, beauty, color and detail found in nature.
“I’m inspired by botanical illustrations, extremely detailed artwork featuring nature,” Oldenburg says.
She also creates custom pet portraits as a large part of her business. “It’s always fun to capture the personality of each animal in a painting or drawing,” she says.
Oldenburg attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, earning a degree in 2D art and graphic design. While in college, she was asked to illustrate three children’s books – “Timmy the Goat” and “Mikayla the Wolf” by Henry Anderson and “Because You Serve” by Amy Young. She was given this opportunity by UW-Oshkosh alumnus Darrin Anderson.
She also created two pieces, a colored pencil collage of animals for the Milwaukee County Zoo, and a bright collage of children, parents and toys for the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee.
Oldenburg’s commissioned artwork is currently being displayed at the Northwestern Mutual Giving Gallery in Milwaukee in tribute to nonprofit agencies and community institutions. At the end of the year, it will be moving to other gallery spaces in New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tucson.
To see more of Sonja’s work, check out her website sonja.gallery and follow her on Instagram @sonja_oldenburg_art.