When asked how long she has been an artist, Sylvina Rollins answers that she has been one all her life in a sense. Growing up, she was inspired by famous artists such as Van Gogh and Monet, as well as Alex Poplaski and Glastonbury artist Ed Hicks. She was also fascinated by the horses in Rosa Bonheur’s paintings, which she could “sit in front of for hours.”
Through high school and while studying at the University of Connecticut as a Landscape Design Major, Sylvina cultivated her passion by taking various courses in Art and Art History. At school she experimented with watercolors and pen and ink, among other forms of art. After taking more classes in the early 90s, she finally settled on oil painting, her primary medium today.
Sylvina balances a career in Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) with her artwork. Whether by taking workshops and classes, or simply by blocking off some nights to work in her studio, she is always sure to set aside time for painting. Her art has also crossed into her profession at times, as she often used pen and ink in the drafting process. Though technology has changed the nature of her work in CAD, she still gets to apply her creative skills from time to time, for example, through the walking route maps she recently designed.
As long as she has loved art, Sylvina has also thrived on being outside. Growing up on a farm in Colchester, CT, she has been surrounded by nature, agriculture, and animals her whole life. So, it is no surprise that the artistic experience that “really got her hooked was plein air.” Now, about one third of her work is completed this way, out in the fresh air. Though there are “a lot of distractions when you’re on location” – changing light and weather conditions etc., – Sylvina loves the way the plein air process helps to “keep her work on the looser side,” as she is forced to make quick decisions about the piece, rather than having infinite time to draft.
The rest of her work is finished in the studio, usually with some background music. She often photographs her subjects and uses the images to supplement the vision she has in her mind. Another key part of her process is toning the canvas, or under painting. The result are colorful, fun, representational oil paintings.
Though Sylvina has created various collections, all are unified by their style of “expressive realism.” The majority also have a presiding focus on the family farm. Sylvina enjoys producing both landscapes and portraits of animals. It makes her smile when she “paints a content animal.” Cows, chickens, sheep, and horses are prominent in her work. Sylvina generally exhibits her art locally, but she has painted in places as far as Ireland. The many beautiful pieces she painted there, like her other works, evoke a feeling of comfort and longing for the countryside.
Along with the Glastonbury Art Guild, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Lyme Art Association, Sylvina is a member of the Connecticut Plein Air Painters Society, a group which works to promote farmland preservation. The organization also meets throughout the year to paint on location at farms across the state, and enjoy the fresh air.
Sylvina has had a successful year, calling the highlight a centennial paint-out that was held this fall on her father’s farm. Seventeen artists came to celebrate the hundredth year of her family’s farm and enjoy the day. Sylvina’s paintings will be showcased at art shows across Connecticut. Look for her this September at the annual On the Green Show put on by the Glastonbury Art Guild.
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