A little history of Lebenzon Paintbrushes

My cousin Keith (same last name) founded Lebenzon Paintbrushes back in the late 1980s. The idea grew from his background in creating pottery and art education. Over time Keith shifted his efforts away from making pottery and toward making paintbrushes. He liked to tell the story about the moment he held up a piece of bamboo and put something that looked like a bristle in it. He spent a lot of time and effort developing brushes and that led to his exhibiting at major Art Shows and Artist Specialty conferences all over the country in a time span of about 20 years. Keith made 10s of thousands of brushes. The brushes  have been used to make countless artworks. He also made a huge number of acquaintances and friendships across the country and well beyond.

Keith passed on rather suddenly in 2008.

Keith and I were friends and also 1st cousins. I used to hang out at his studio frequently and swap stories. I admired that he developed a beautiful line of unique pottery and later he started to make and sell paintbrushes. It is ironic in a way. He asked me more than once to over the years help him make and sell the brushes. At the time my interests were elsewhere.

At his funeral I was one of his pallbearers. It was there where I decided to take a leap of faith and started devoting resources and increasing time to pursuing my artistic interest at the time, which was was highly polished panoramic photographs. I exhibited my photos first at Seattle area Art Galleries and later at Art Festivals. My work quickly became well regarded and was shown at one time or another in just about all of the top Art Festivals in Washington State, which is my home state.

From there, in the interest of brevity, in 2014 I had an injury that brought the photography career to an end. Because I love exhibiting at Art Festivals, I decided to teach myself………. (wait for it) ……. how to make brushes. Two years passed between the time i made my first bristles and when i was comfortable with the results, and along the way I started to exhibit my brushes at area Art Festivals.

The Seattle Folklife Festival is one of the shows where i exhibited my panoramic photos, and the director took a leap of faith on my brush making skills based on some brush prototype photos and her knowledge of my other work. Due to that i got into the highly competitive Folklife Festival as my first major show. I still remember that show fondly.

Well, here it is in 2019 and it’s my 11th year of exhibiting my creative results in the Art Festival arena and 4th year of selling my hand made brushes. I’ve had good success with my brushes and have made and sold thousands of them. My successes have included many of the top rated Juried Art Festivals in the USA.

Some of the success is due in part to the fabulous work of my cousin Keith who did excellent work and blazed a trail over nearly 20 years. A larger part of my success is due to a combination of luck, lots of work, and continual refinement, which comes from feedback from those who have tried and bought my brushes. Yes i’ll admit that’s a bit of a conceit, but i hope all would be willing to work hard, improve what they do and listen to the thoughtful feedback provided by others.

Brush making is in part a tribute to my favorite cousin Keith. The work occasionally helps me to remember conversations we had long ago.

But mostly it’s a lot of fun.