Local artist, mother and wife Brooke Elkins creates unique and custom artwork.

Creativity takes courage, especially during a pandemic. No one knows this better than local artist, mother and wife Brooke Elkins. Elkins uses her special artistic talent to create unique pieces of art through her business, The Nested Paintbrush.

“I have always had art in my life,” said Elkins. “When I was 11, my mom signed me up for classes at Center Place in Brandon. I spent the next seven years, every Thursday, taking art lessons.”

Many of Elkins’ pieces are centered around teachers.

“A popular request is my teacher door hangers,” said Elkins. “A lot of teachers have a theme to their room: owls, sports, superheroes, the ocean, etc. I try to make each piece different and personalized. Teachers explain their theme to me and I create a piece reflecting their theme and paint their name on it.”

She has also created artwork pieces in people’s homes, schools and businesses, including canvas art, wreaths and holiday-themed items. Many of her creations are locally displayed at the Three Bulls Tavern and Brewery, located off Bell Shoals Rd. in Valrico.

“Last year, Cimino Elementary had me create door hangers for their entire faculty and right now I am working on another schoolwide order, but it’s a secret surprise for their faculty, so I can’t reveal it yet,” said Elkins.

Like many other industries, COVID-19 has affected business for Elkins. She is normally extremely busy this time of year with teacher orders, but this year is different.

“So many of our teachers at this point just don’t know what the future holds,” said Elkins. “I know this isn’t a forever situation, so I am not panicking. My heart goes out to our school teachers and administrators.”

During the pandemic, Elkins began to focus on a personal art series that she calls ‘Pandemic works.’

“It started as several doodles on scrap pieces of paper that I shared on my personal Facebook page and The Nested Paintbrush Facebook page as sort of a tongue-in-cheek take of the situations that we, as a country, were facing. The lack of toilet paper, the idea of quarantine…but then I started finding myself switching to more serious subjects, and literally just ‘drawing my heart,’” said Elkins.

On a whim, Elkins painted a piece of an island girl pressing her forehead to the Statue of Liberty.

“I posted it on my Facebook and within six days it had been shared over 30,000 times and seen by over 2.5 million people. I was blown away. I was getting messages day and night about people asking to buy the piece. Due to copyright, I could not. I was so touched it had reached the hearts of so many. Eventually, I had to take the piece down, because it just got to be overwhelming, but I know it is still getting shared and passed along because I still get requests to this day for it. It makes me happy to know so many were touched by it,” she said.

Elkins always welcomes custom requests for pieces. If interested, contact Elkins through her business Facebook page, The Nested Paintbrush.