Brenda Sylvia

“The act of painting outside and experiencing nature first hand is an integral part of my work. I am energized by the dynamic beauty of nature. Through painting en plein air, I strengthen my connection to a specific place. In 2017, I moved back to Virginia after living and painting in the US Virgin Islands for nine years. Living in the tropics influenced my artwork in many ways. Now I am even more obsessed with color!”

“Natural beauty has always been important to my artwork and my life. Here in the Northern Neck of Virginia, I am once again surrounded by inspiring landscape which is my favorite subject. I strive to create a sense of place in my art. I want the viewer to “see and feel” what I do in the subjects I choose to paint. My paintings here capture the beauty and rural life by the Chesapeake Bay, while my work from the US Virgin Islands is closely linked to my experiences with the natural beauty and culture of life in the tropics. I also create whimsical sculptures and installation pieces often incorporating recycled materials.”

Eight years ago Brenda Sylvia, a Virginian, moved to the Virgin Islands. Her love of nature fueled her foray into island life. She spent as much time as possible outdoors experiencing the natural beauty of the islands. She worked on sailboats and power boats and led snorkel and kayak tours.

What was this artist with a Masters in Fine Art from George Washington University doing? As a painter who works on location, she was immersing herself in nature. Quite simply, she was allowing the islands to speak to her, to capture her, and to carry her away.

Seduced by the environment, Brenda Sylvia began to paint. The beaches of the islands became her favorite subject matter. Her oil-on-canvas paintings had one objective–to share her feelings of wonder. Her paintings shown at Mango Tango Art Gallery has found a loyal client base of locals and visitors. Complex color layers and luminous light effects are her signature style. Brenda’s ultimate goal mirrors Van Gogh, “Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I have before my eyes, I use color more arbitrarily, in order to express myself forcibly.”

In 2002, at a Washington, DC art show, Brenda Sylvia became entranced by another form of creative expression when she saw her first fire dance. She embraced the natural element of fire and began performing. As a dancer, she was drawn to our St. Thomas Carnival. She first photographed the dancers and then became one of them. For three years she was a one-person troupe in St John’s Carnival. In 2015, she joined the Gypsy Troupe on St Thomas.

Sylvia surprised admirers when her entries in the island-wide Caribbean Color exhibitions displayed her mastery of the human form. For three years Brenda called upon Carnival themes for her inspiration. Her first-hand experiences and reference photographs led to an engaging series of paintings. These show a prominent solo Carnival dancer surrounded by tropical fauna and flora. These figurative works have won awards. Her three dimensional entries, including a 3 foot by 9 foot topiary iguana fashioned from artificial leaves and flowers on a chicken wire frame, won Best in Show and Viewers’ Choice awards in these annual exhibitions.

You might meet Brenda painting on location on a beach, fire dancing at your hotel, or guiding you in a kayak. You can also meet her spirit when you view her works of art. Seascapes share her connection to the beaches and her Carnival Dancers introduce you to her island family.

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