March Artist of the Month Brenda M. Sylvia

"I am passionate about the beauty of nature. It feeds my soul. The act of painting outside and experiencing nature firsthand is an integral part of my work and whenever possible I begin my paintings on location. Through painting en plein air, I strengthen my connection to a specific place. Through my paintings, I encourage people to also feel a deeper connection to these places. In 2008, I left Virginia to live in the Virgin Islands for nine years. Living in the bright light of the tropics influenced my artwork by feeding my obsession with color. I returned to Virginia and for the last four years in my home and studio in Reedville, I am again surrounded by inspiring landscapes. I paint scenes from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the nearby rural farming communities, often combining subjects and enhancing the color to express my vision. I am always pushing to further discover my creative voice and loudly expressing it with paint."

Brenda M. Sylvia

To see Brenda's collection CLICK HERE

To see Brenda LIVE in the gallery CLICK HERE


The inspiration behind the pieces of art:

New Year, New Trail was inspired by a New Year's Day 2020 hike in York River State Park. It is part of my Trails and Trees series which I began in 2017 when I found myself on a new path in my life following Hurricane Irma's devastation the US Virgin Islands. After nine years in the Caribbean, I moved back to Virginia. I love nature so I am constantly out exploring new trails and they became the perfect new subject matter for me.  Some of the 23 paintings in my series are warm and welcoming and some are a bit darker.  This painting captures the energy and joy I felt facing a brand new year.  Of course 2020 did not exactly turn out as I had hoped, but we cannot always choose our path. 


Paddling the Headwaters is a painting of my favorite thing to do when I am not at my easel.  This is a painting of an incredible day spent exploring the headwaters of the Great Wicomico River. 


Red Clover Magic is part of my newest series called Fields and Flowers. Having fallen in love with bright colors during my nine years living in the Caribbean, I am of course inspired by the beautiful blooming plants here on the Northern Neck. Rural farmhouses and old homes have also found their way onto my canvases.  In this painting I combined my interpretation of beautiful fields of red clover with one of my favorite nearby houses. 


Social Isolation was the first painting I completed during the Covid-19 pandemic. For many weeks, I struggled with the loneliness and fear of the future this disruption of our lives was causing, and I was unable to paint. I have loved the beautiful Canola (Rapeseed) fields and I found this field off of Route 3 near Kilmarnock, VA.  This lone tree was thriving and bursting with Spring Color and it gave me much needed hope and inspiration. 


Spring Carnival was my interpretation of the joyful energy and colors of Carnival time in the Caribbean. I love color and for me the return of flowers here is a time for personal celebration. A friend had posted the quote about daffodils which inspired me to research forsythia to find another quote and I incorporated them both into the painting.  This is one of the only times I have used text in my work and I am pleased with the result. 


Wonderland of Weeds is a painting of an abandoned house I pass daily on my visits to my parents. It is part of my Fields and Flowers series. My mother has been ill and though these are not classic flowers, these fading plants are still beautiful.  Sometimes, during the dark days of early winter and during hardships in our lives, we need to look harder to find beauty.  Nature feeds my soul and often it's beauty can be a lifeline. 



Brenda Sylvia loves painting and is happiest outside enjoying nature. Years ago, those two great passions merged when she started painting on location in the natural places she loved. Brenda received her Bachelor of Fine Arts is from James Madison University in 1983 and her Master of Fine Arts in Painting from The George Washington University in 2004. Her thesis was called A Sense of Place and that theme still resonates in her artwork today. She taught painting at GWU and School for Visual Arts and Careers in the Virgin Islands. She has also taught multiple workshops for the Rappahannock Art League. In 2017, she moved back to Virginia after living and painting in the US Virgin Islands for nine years. She is still represented on St Thomas at the Mango Tango Art Gallery. Living in the tropics influenced her work in many ways. Currently, she is obsessed with color. Natural beauty has always been important to her artwork and her life. Living in the Northern Neck, Brenda is once again surrounded by inspiring landscape which is her subject matter of choice. She has been painting out of doors for 25 years. One of her latest series of paintings is called Trails and Trees. She is also working on a collection of paintings of landscapes around Reedville where she lives and has her studio. Brenda also creates sculptures, usually out of found/recycled materials. You can see more of her artwork including her sculptures and installation pieces at