May Windows by Ellen Huddy

The RAL Art Center Windows will embrace the artwork of both painting and photography this month, with the paintings of Brenda Sylvia and photos from Maggie Gilman.


Maggie Gilman, an NYC transplant, is a long-time resident of the Northern Neck. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts there, and continues to refine her skills through workshops that she attends. Over the years she has enjoyed traveling to different countries around the world and her travels have supplied her with many interesting photo subjects. Although Covid restrictions brought a halt to her travel she still continued to explore her digital art form from home.

The photos in Maggie’s Gallery Window display show examples of an interesting digital composite art form, where she combines several photographs into one photographic composition. While restricted at home,(as we all were during Covid), she found pictures of her father in the attic. She took these pictures and created a piece called RM Through Time. The central figure is RM at five or six years old. There is a portrait of her family integrated into the photo as well to create a unified, unusual and slightly unreal composition. This piece was accepted into Art Speaks Ninth Annual Juried Exhibition, which is held annually in Mathews County,VA. Maggie exhibits regularly at the RAL Gallery as well as other significant shows in Virginia.


Brenda Sylvia's acrylic paintings are exceptional in their use of color and bold brush strokes. Natural beauty has always been important to her artwork and here in the NNK she is inspired by the unique landscapes of the Bay. She often begins her paintings on location, as painting outside strengthens her connection to the place which has inspired her. At George Washington University her Master's thesis was titled "A Sense of Place", and it describes her goal as an artist to capture and transmit to the viewer how she feels about the place which she is painting. She strives to create paintings which draw people in and encourages them to experience the venue through her eyes.

Brenda paints scenes from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the nearby rural farming communities, often combining subjects and enhancing colors to express her vision. Represented in her RAL Art Center Gallery Window display are paintings from both her “Trails and Trees” and her “Fields and Flowers” series. Her painting, New Year, New Trail, was inspired by her visit to York River State Park on New Year’s Day in 2020. It was a beautiful sunny day and in this colorful acrylic painting of a hiking trail, Brenda captures some of the excitement and anticipation of the coming year. Brenda is always pushing to further discover her creative voice and loudly expressing it with paint.