Inspiration Theodora Augusta Lionti: Modern Renaissance and Contemporary Elements


Theodora’s visual style, personal and professional life. What made her choose Fine Arts over Fashion?

We’ve all seen her charming videos on the ZenART YouTube channel, sharing color mixing step-by-step guides, and valuable art techniques from basic watercolor to the more challenging oil paintings. In this article, we shine the spotlight on our ZenARTist of April 2021. Let’s take a look at the modern Renaissance visual style, personal and professional life of Greek contemporary artist, Theodora Augusta Lionti.

Life in Athens
Fine Arts vs. Fashion Design
Art Life in Leeds
Art for Brands
ZenART Dynamic Social Integrator
Modern Renaissance Visual Style and Influence
Selected Pieces from Theodora’s Body of Work

Theodora Augusta Lionti is a young artist whose body of work comprises striking modern Renaissance aesthetics-inspired nude portraits with idealized and beautifully proportioned bodies. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, her work often depicts charming bejeweled and modernized Greek mythological characters rendered on big canvases. 

Her background in design also enables her to create bespoke art for luxury brands. Theodora completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Leeds Arts University and holds a Masters of Arts in Design from AKTO+Middlesex University in London. She is currently ZenART’s resident artist and Dynamic Social Integrator. 

University of Arts Leeds - Modern renaissance paintings by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Theodora with paintings from her university final exhibition in Leeds, UK.

Life in Athens

Theodora Augusta Lionti was born on the 17th of August 1995 in Athens Greece, to parents Anastasios Liontis and Kyriaki Alexiou. Her father Anastasios is a well-read businessman who inspired Theodora’s visual style through his fascination with history and mythology. He also inspired Theodora’s upcoming series of portraits of the gods of Olympus. When she was a child, her father would often quiz her about the Gods of Olympus, Seven Wonders of the World, and the Seven Wise Men or the Seven Sages of Greece.

Kyriaki Alexiou, Theodora’s mother, is a dynamic businesswoman who has a lively magnetic personality that draws people into her. She is Theodora’s cheerleader, her number one fan who has always believed in her artistic talents and kept most of her drawings through the years. When she was just beginning with her art practice, Theodora would sometimes paint with her mother in their living room.

Theodora with Mother
Five-year-old Theodora Augusta Lionti with mother Kyriaki Alexiou. Young Theodora wearing clothing designed by her grandmother.

As a child, she started making art as early as she can remember. Armed with colorful felt tip markers, watercolors, and gouache, she would attempt to draw or paint the people around her, the subject she mostly favored. 

Like all other talented children, she believed that her proficiency was at the same level as other kids. Eventually, Theodora discovers that she has a natural gift for rendering people and their clothing.

Theodora with a portrait of her mother that she drew at 6
Left: Theodora’s portrait of her mother, Kyriaki Alexiou when she was 6 years old. Right: Theodora at 6.

At a really young age, Theodora already knew that her future career will be something related to art. You see, her grandmother is a seamstress. Theodora remembers fond memories of the sound of sewing machines, the feel of the textures of different fabrics, the beauty of the intricate details on the embellishments, the wonder of seeing a new dress fresh out of the studio. Because of all this, she believed she will likely be a fashion designer. 

Her earliest drawings reflect this belief, from princesses in beautiful ball gowns to portraits of people around her in beautiful clothing, she drew inspiration from her grandmother’s craft.

Costeas-Geitonas School in Athens. Photo from cgs.gr

Theodora acquired her first formal education in visual arts through Costeas-Geitonas School, a private educational institution based in Athens, Greece. This is where she learned to paint different subjects, using different mediums and basic painting techniques. It is also in this school that she received her International Baccalaureate diploma. 

Fine Arts vs. Fashion Design

As part of the multifaceted program at Costeas-Geitonas School in Greece, Theodora took on two big creative projects that brought about a big dilemma. Remember that earlier in her life, she believed that her future lies in fashion? When she was sixteen, Theodora designed a whole collection of ethical clothing that she presented through a fashion show. It made her so happy she felt like she can do fashion shows for the rest of her life.

In her final year, she was required in her Visual Arts class to put together an exhibition. She planned an 18-piece collection. She locked herself up in her room for a month and furiously painted and crafted her pieces with the help of her grandmother. Theodora filled this exhibit with her acrylic and watercolor paintings as well as art objects, fashion items — a collection of hand-embellished bags and clothing.

City Bag designed and hand made by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Theodora Augusta Lionti’s embellished City Bag designed at the age of 17

Wondering why she included some fashion pieces in her art exhibition? Well, at this point she was uncertain whether she’ll pursue fine arts or fashion design. So she thought, why not merge the two? The game-changer however is when all her art surrounded her during the exhibition opening. She observed the guests sipping wine while looking at her pieces, listened to random conversations, and sneaked behind unassuming friends who are talking about her art. At that moment, she knew.

Art Life in Leeds

Leeds loves red. The lovely scarlet city became home for Theodora for some years. It was an “eye-opening” experience for her to be exposed to contemporary and sometimes more conceptual art. Since she’s been used to all the graceful mythology and history-inspired classical art in Greece, this was a new side of the art world for her.

Prior to attending Leeds, Theodora completed her foundations in visual art at the Plakas Arts Centre in Athens. There she found a great mentor who believed in her. This mentor instructed her on an in-depth practice of different techniques using a whole range of mediums. Plakas Arts Centre prepared her for what’s to come. And these two experiences shaped her current visual style.

Theodora Augusta Lionti at Leeds
Theodora in one of her favorite places in Leeds. Popular red canal boats navigate along the River Aire, near the City Centre.

Theodora completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the Leeds Arts University. Leeds Arts University had great teachers and an amazing facility. The university aided her in developing what she received from Plakas Arts Centre. It is in Leeds that she learned the ins and outs of the art world, how to conceptualize and pick subjects as well as how to develop her unique visual style.

Theodora Augusta Lionti at Leeds
Leeds street art.

Theodora mostly preferred watercolor earlier in her career as it’s the medium she feels more comfortable using.  Watercolor also made her work stand out in a sea of acrylic and oil paintings. When she  mastered her unique portraiture style, she started using more oil and instantly fell in love with the medium. 

Art for Brands

In mid-2020, Theodora completed her Masters of Arts in Design at the AKTO+Middlesex University. Since then, she added creating bespoke art for brands to her repertoire. She created painterly advertisements to promote Tony Moly — a Korean beauty brand that caters to both men and women. The designs and the execution were well received for being out of the ordinary and for being inspired by vintage 1950’s painterly ad complete with EL wire lighting.

Theodora Augusta Lionti for Tony Moly
Theodora during the showcase of her Tony Moly project.

ZenART Social Integrator

A resident artist and the Dynamic Social Integrator of ZenART, Theodora joined the team in early 2020. She creates delightful social media content and painting tutorials for our ZenART Supplies YouTube channel and also shares inspiring daily tips and moderates activities in our Painting Inspiration Daily | Ideas, Tutorials, and Guidance to Motivate You Facebook group.

Theodora Augusta Lionti for ZenART Supplies YouTube channel
A video about mixing yellow oil paints for the ZenART Supplies YouTube channel

Modern Renaissance Visual Style and Influences

Let’s look closely at Theodora’s visual style. She paints her nude often mythological subjects in the style of the modern Renaissance yet renders them outside their usual contexts. What she does is a bold and rebellious attempt to marry modern Renaissance aesthetics with contemporary elements like tattoos, twenty-first-century technology, jewelry, and setting.

When interviewed about how she would want people to perceive her art, she said “People think my art is erotic because I paint mostly nudes and men with jewelry but that is not the case. My pieces are not meant to be erotic, they are however inspired by Renaissance nude paintings that mean to show the beauty and the proportions of the human body.”

Theodora with Artemis - Modern renaissance painting by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Theodora Augusta Lionti with one of her more recent modern Renaissance work, Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and Moon (2020)

Did Theodora’s portraiture inspire you to paint? Get some inspiration in our Oil Color Mixing: Figurative & Portrait Painting, and Skin Tones.

“People think my art is erotic because I paint mostly nudes and men with jewelry but that is not the case. My pieces are not meant to be erotic, they are however inspired by Renaissance nude paintings that mean to show the beauty and the proportions of the human body.” 
—Theodora Augusta Lionti

Despite choosing to study Fine Arts instead of Fashion Design, her love for fashion will always have an influence on the aesthetics of her pieces by making her subjects wear the statement jewelry or embellishments she designs.

Gamer Boy - Modern renaissance painting by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Gamer Boy (2020), oil and spray on wood 100 x 100 cm
Gamer Boy detail shot - Modern renaissance painting by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Detail shot of Gamer Boy (2020) showing Theodora’s flair for adding contemporary elements to her modern Renaissance-inspired paintings

In Gamer Boy (2020) piece, Theodora added contemporary elements — modern socks and a gaming console — to her otherwise classical nude painting in a damask wallpapered room. Her body of work also often exhibits men who are not afraid to show their feminine, vulnerable side that goes against the macho man cliche of the older generations.

Selected Pieces from Theodora’s Body of Work

We’ve selected a few of Theodora’s pieces that exhibit her visual style as well as her development through time. Proud to mention that she’s created some of her beautiful pieces using ZenART Renoir Collection and Artist’s Choice Collection brushes for oil and acrylic.

 Adam and Eve - Modern renaissance painting by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Adam and Eve (2019) oil on wood 70 x 100 cm, modern Renaissance aesthetics merged with contemporary elements
Birth of Venus - Modern renaissance painting by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Birth of Venus (2020), oil, mixed media on wood, modern Renaissance aesthetics derived from Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (ca. 1485-86)
Artemis - Modern renaissance painting by Theodora Augusta Lionti
Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and Moon (2020), oil and mixed media on wood, 70 x 100 cm, modern Renaissance aesthetics, subjects wearing the statement jewelry Theodora loves to design.

Quite similar to what she is doing for the ZenART community, Theodora aims to become an art teacher in the future and inspire more people, especially children to create art. Say hello to our ZenARTist for April 2021, our very own Theodora Augusta Lionti! 

Join her in Painting Inspiration Daily | Ideas, Tutorials, and Guidance to Motivate YouFacebook Group where Theodora moderates a weekly fun art challenge that everyone can participate in.

Theodora is currently painting a portrait series of the Olympus gods for her upcoming solo exhibition in Athens so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, what are you currently painting? Share them below! Let’s start a conversation.


Fabrianne is the Ambassador of Art Buzz at ZenART, resident eccentric pocket-sized art curator, editor, and art world liaison. She builds and develops relationships with the arts community and makes sure that ZenART’s inspirational articles get to you “hot off the press.” She co-founded an online contemporary art gallery, worked with over 100 artists on exhibitions and performances, wears only black clothes and when she’s not creating buzz or curating and saturating in art, still daydreams of becoming a quirky Wes Anderson film character.