Playful Paintbrush Portraits Inspired by Art History

San Francisco-based artist Rebecca Szeto, who we discovered on I Need a Guide, uses playful “visual prompts” and explores “conflated realities” in her multimedia works. “As someone who enjoys the small details of the everyday, doing art is a way for me to make those often times invisible moments visible,” Szeto writes on her website. “I am interested in the poetic intersection of the material and the immaterial — a transformative, and often humorous, synthesis of confounded expectations.”

This notion is visible in Szeto’s ongoing paintbrush portraits, which transform paint-covered brushes into sculptural women. Through the process of whittling the brush handles into figural shapes, Szeto finds beauty in the tool’s many layers of paint, bringing new life to each piece. “The slow and repetitive nature of whittling becomes a meditative activity in which I am able to reflect on the idiosyncrasies of each individual brush. Working intuitively, the layered surfaces of the paintbrushes become collaborators in defining their ultimate form and visual temperament while shedding light on the subtleties of the human condition,” she writes. There are art historical references in her portraits (Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and the Infanta Margaret Theresa from Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas make appearances) — but the brush is also a play on Szeto’s time as a faux finisher. See more of Szeto’s paintbrush beauties, below.

Image credit:  Rebecca Szeto
Image credit: Rebecca Szeto