Artist Gives Old Paintbrushes New Life and Personality as Baroque Characters

Los Angeles-based surrealist artist Alexandra Dillon brings new life to found objects by transforming them into charming characters. Using old, worn-out paintbrushes, tools, and other studio items as her canvas, Dillon personifies each object by covering them with portrait paintings, reminiscent of the Baroque art style and Roman-Egyptian mummy portraits.

Rather than plan her imaginary portraits in advance, Dillon just begins painting and, she reveals, “They show up and tell me who they are.” Spending several days on each piece, each “old soul” is completely unique. Faces emerge from old paintbrushes, while the dusty bristles act as spiked, boxy hair that’s often decorated with painted crowns or jewels.

Dillon’s tool portraits—on objects such as axes, cleavers, and locks—evoke the “inner motivations, personal relationships, and powerful emotions” of the characters. Soft facial features are juxtaposed and confined within the hard—and often sharp—edges of old tools, and eyes and lips appear as reflections in their surfaces.

You can find more of Dillon’s tool portrait series on Instagram.

Los Angeles-based surrealist artist Alexandra Dillon turns worn-out paintbrushes and other art studio tools into charming portrait paintings.

The artist personifies each object by painting them with characters, reminiscent of the Baroque art style and Roman-Egyptian mummy portraits.

Alexandra Dillon: Website | Facebook | Instagram

All images via Alexandra Dillon.

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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