Artist Profile: Brenda Silva
A lifelong Provincetown resident, Brenda Silva is the fourth generation of a Portuguese fishing family. That’s important to note about this artist because it’s her familiarity with this picturesque world, its legendary fishing community, and her family’s life that makes her paintings resonate. “I paint what I truly, deeply know about, and I primarily paint from memory,” Silva says.
Drawn to the arts from a very young age, Silva developed creative passions for both music and art. As often as she could be found drawing horses, she was practicing classical piano, or playing the clarinet. When it came time for college, she chose to focus on music. The siren call of the famous tip of the Cape led her home and she worked as a music teacher in the Provincetown public school system for two decades. “It was a wonderfully rewarding career,” she says.
About 15 years ago, life changes shifted her focus and she felt inspired to paint again. Encouraged by a friend, she started doing pet portraits. That led to greater artistic exploration and eventually she started creating her own work that reflects her deep, instinctive connections with Provincetown.
Painting mostly in oils, Silva draws inspiration from her personal experiences and vivid memories growing up in a fishing family. “I spent a lot of my childhood and time at the pier really taking in the architectural side of boats, that rustic look and wear and tear,” Silva says. Many admirers of her work assume she has a strong affinity for fishing boats given the prevalence of the subject in her work, but she says that’s not the case, “I don’t really love boats,” she says. “I just know them really well.”
Another essential component to her painting is color—vivid, unmuted, and sometimes even exaggerated color. “It’s a way to keep my heritage alive. My paintings aren’t always pretty, but you can tell the subjects have some life behind them,” the artist says. “Viewers see intensity in my paintings and want to know what’s behind it.”
Painting the community and land where she has lived her whole life has given Silva a greater appreciation for the area. “I took the landscape for granted until I started painting it,” she notes.
Though she has transitioned fully to a working artist, Silva remains a committed musician. She serves as the musical accompanist at her church and has played in the same concert band as lead clarinet for 34 years.