See How This Artist Transforms Old Paintbrushes Into Delicate Ladies


Artists use paintbrushes everyday to create incredible works of art, but not all artists use paintbrushes for the same purpose. One artist in particular uses paintbrushes in a completely unique way, she turns them into people, glamorous little ladies to be exact.

Rebecca Szeto is a San Francisco-based artist that has found a new way to repurpose old paintbrushes into beautiful works of art. Rebecca carves the ends of her old paintbrushes so that they resemble renaissance ladies; she then allows the brush hairs to represent their elegant gowns. Check out her awesome collection of transformed paintbrushes into delicate little ladies.

The World Is Your Oyster 

Oil on carved paintbrush, 2013


Rebecca’s experiences as a faux finisher inspire her work. Velázquez’s 17th century painting, Las Meninas, also originally inspired her paintbrush project. She considers the paintbrush to be “self-referential,” as it acts as both the object and the subject of the art piece. Rebecca explains that the paintbrush ladies also make references to history, as paintbrushes have been used throughout history and in this case the classic paintbrush is the artwork.

Rebecca graduated in 1992 from UC Berkeley, and has kept busy ever since learning more about art by working under a number of mentors. Her mentors have even included a master wood carver from the Limpopo region, which ties in perfectly to the paintbrush ladies Rebecca has now become well known for.

Untitled (Blue)

Oil, acrylic on carved paintbrush, 2013


Rebecca is a first generation Chinese American, and the first in her family to go into the arts as a profession. The creative spirit says that she always enjoyed the smaller details in life, and finds art a great way to make invisible moments visible.

Rebecca writes on her official website bio, “I am interested in the poetic intersection of the material and the immaterial -­‐ a transformative, and often humorous, synthesis of confounded expectations.”


Oil on carved paintbrush, 2013


Rebecca describes her artwork as playing with subtle shifts in perception, allowing her art to spark creative thought from all that view it. She makes sure that all of her art shows one thing on the surface, but offers so much more if you take the time to have a more careful look.

Reflections On Beauty 

Mirror, oil on carved paintbrush, 2013


It’s not just old paintbrushes that Rebecca is attracted to using for her art, she uses all sorts of discarded and mass-produced objects including chewed up gum, steel wool, rust, and dead bees. She writes, “These are drawn from my immediate surroundings and present circumstances. The process develops as an exploration of the qualities inherent in the materials and evolves into a deeper look at their implications.”

Menina IV

Oil on carved paintbrush, 2013


Daughter of Fortune (Ode to Allende redux) 

Oil on carved paintbrush, 2010


The old paintbrush plays a role in how the final product looks, as Rebecca allows her materials to speak for themselves in many ways. Still, all of her finished paintbrushes serve as a way to question the notions we form about beauty and value, Rebecca admits they offer a critique in regards to consumerism, women’s work, and also class dynamics.


Oil on carved paintbrush, 2010


Dona Hongari (after Velazquez) 

Oil on carved paintbrush, 2011


Rebecca’s paintbrush portraits have been an ongoing project series that started in 1999 and continues today. Her artwork has recently earned much attention due to its unique qualities and deeper meanings open to interpretation.

Reflections On Beauty II

Mixed media installation, 2014


Reduce, reuse, recycle; there’s nothing better than transforming trash into art!

Next Up: Meet a Portuguese street artist that creates amazing owl sculptures using junk.

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