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Exquisite Historical Portraits Produced on Old Paintbrush Handles

San Francisco-based artist Rebecca Szeto whittles down the everyday paintbrush to transform it into an incredibly-detailed portrait. The ongoing series, titled Paintbrush Portraits, features a variety of the well-loved tools that are splattered in different pigments with their bristles in less than pristine condition. At the tip of each handle, however, is Szeto's exquisite handiwork. She roughly defines the shape of the head and then paints beautiful, expressive faces on the wood.

Paintbrush Portraits features women that you might recognize. The artist intends for her series to refer to the history of painting, you'll notice that Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer makes an appearance (above). Szeto also plays with the notion of reforming beauty and value as she converts conventional, discardable paintbrushes into works of art. The sloping handles now become the figures' forms while their worn-out bristles are the playful edges of dresses.

The slow and repetitive nature of Szeto's sculptures is meditative activity for her. While creating them, she reflects on each object's idiosyncrasies, and this intimate knowledge of her materials helps account for their stunning appearance.

Rebecca Szeto website
via [Lustik]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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