Tiny oil paintings transform into treasured pendants with help from a cat whisker

Centerville artist creates mini masterpieces for jewelry

A local artist who specializes in portraits and landscapes has created a unique jewelry collection of miniature oil paintings.

Cecilia Brendel, a professional painter for two decades and the owner of Olde World Masters Galleria in Centerville, was inspired to begin her line of jewelry earlier this year as she helped care for her newborn grandson. “I needed to paint quick, small things while he napped,” she said.

Her tiny paintings mimic the style of the full-size artwork hung on the walls of her gallery. Using darker tones complemented by brighter contemporary hues, Brendel describes her style as a mixture of old world and new and is inspired by Rembrandt, Carravagio and Ruebens.

The mini masterpieces, which come in one and two-inch ovals framed in a pendant, are painted with archival oil paints “that will last for centuries” on Belgian oil primed linen.


It takes patience, perseverance and ingenuity to simplify the subjects within the paintings.

Brendel uses delicate paint brushes and a magnifier for the detailed work, and has an unexpected tool at her easel — a cat whisker taped to a pencil.

“The end closest to the cat’s cheek is flat and blunt and provides a sharp edge,” Brendel said. “It will give me that skinny line that I need.”

Much of Brendel’s work is inspired by floral paintings found in museums. Vivid orange poppies standing in fields, pink and purple flowers artfully arranged in vases, and peonies from her garden are represented on scaled down canvas.

Tiny clipper ships, brightly colored birds and religious figures are also part of her portfolio. She will also paint custom pieces of family portraits, pets and wedding bouquets.

Brendel sells silver and gold-plated oil painting pendants at the boutique in her Centerville studio. The prices range from $50 to $250.

Each year the Elizabeth Diamond Company showcases a local artist and will begin selling the oil painting pendants this week in solid silver, 14-karat yellow gold and 14-karat rose gold at their Centerville location, 7245 Far Hills Ave. An open house featuring the jewelry will be held Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Prices will range from $400 to $1,300. Diamonds and gemstones can be added to the frame for an additional charge.

Cody Pinnick, a jewelry designer at the store, helped Brendel design the intricate frames surrounding her paintings.

“This was a project I dove into head first because I thought it was such a neat idea to display art like that,” Pinnick said. “Normally art is reserved for the home and tucked away, and you don’t get to showcase it. This is a good way to carry it with you.”


What: Open house featuring oil painting pendants by artist Cecilia Brendel

Where: Elizabeth Diamond Company, 7245 Far Hills Ave., Centerville

When: October 11 from 6-8 p.m.

Brendel’s gallery and boutique, The Olde Masters Galleria, is located at 25 Irongate Park Drive, Centerville

More info: http://www.ceciliabrendel.com/

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