Birmingham, Alabama native Amanda Bennett is the featured artist of the Fall 2018 Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson, Texas. Currently living and working in New Orleans by way of Nashville, Bennett’s deep South roots wind through her mixed media creations.

Without a doubt, her paintings have mid-twentieth century vibe, but with enough of a modern edge to remain timeless. Some of her works, such as Blow Me Away, are tongue-in-cheek, while others like El Ray Motel, leave one pining for simpler days when a weekend away didn’t have to be Instagram worthy.

“I was initially creating digital collages with mid-century images and advertising. But, there was something that I was really struggling with – there were very few, if any, images of people of color,” Bennett said, marking a pivot-point in her career.

“I felt I wasn’t accurately representing this world we live in and wanted to find a way to do so without cultural appropriation. This led me to fully sketching and creating my own images digitally to include people of color.”

Amanda Bennett, 2018 Featured Artist Cottonwood Art Festival

 As a mixed media artist, Bennett work includes more than paint. The process is as demanding as the end result.

“Currently, my work occurs in several steps.” Bennett explains, “I digitally sketch my image on an iPad and print it out the size that I want. I then create an acrylic painting on wood and use a process called image transferring to literally transfer the ink by hand from my printed out image to the surface of the acrylic painting.”

The entire process “takes as long as it takes,” she says. Some pieces are completely quickly, while others take several days.

Bennett had early exposure to art as a child painting with her grandmother. Sports were also an important part of her childhood, playing basketball and softball since age five, and a having a father who coached football for 47 years.

“I’m definitely a sports fan. You don’t have much of a choice when you grow up in Alabama – Roll Tide!” 

Love Militia is a pithy contradiction – by Amanda Bennett

Sporting images invoke feelings of friendship and camaraderie, along with warm yellow tones and calming blues, make for playful and soul-soothing art to hang in a home as a conversation piece. As part of that conversation, Bennett jokes “I hope they say, ‘I bought this from a really cool person! You should get a piece for yourself!’” 

She adds, “In all seriousness, I’m just ultimately gracious and overwhelmed that people want to hang my work in their homes. I just hope they have their own connection to their piece and that it’s unique from anything else they may have hanging up.”

Gal pals hit the slopes together in Girls Best Friend – by Amanda Bennett

Leaving faces off of the people she paints is one way she helps create that emotional connection and individual experience with her work.

“No faces allows them to place themselves in that moment, that scene and create their own interpretation,” says Amanda Bennett.

Amanda Bennett omits or obscures faces as in “Shoot Your Eye Out.”

When she is feeling uninspired or stuck, Bennett gets herself going again by looking at old photographs, advertising or playing the guitar. Being under the critical eye of the art community, she’s developed a thick skin, and encourages budding artists to do the same.

“It’s tough to put your heart and soul into something only to have someone tear it down in a matter of seconds with their comments. You have to remember, not everyone likes everything. And, that’s ok. Be honest and true to yourself in your work and the rest will take care of itself.” She enthusiastically adds, “Oh! And, you CAN do this for a living in spite of what your parents may tell you!

Bennett spends many weeks travelling each spring to art shows and festivals. She keeps her Facebook and Twitter followers up to date on where she’s going next. Her work is on display and for sale every day at the Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op in New Orleans, and available work is listed on her website.

Cottonwood Art Festival is held in Cottonwood Park located in Richardson, Texas. Admission and parking are both free to the public and the two-day weekend includes live entertainment, a craft beer garden, children’s art stations, food trucks, and more than 200 artists from around the world. More info:  #CottonwoodArtFest #CottonwoodArtFestival 


“Cottonwood Art Festival Selects Amanda Bennett As Featured Artist For Fall 2018” was written by guest contributor Amanda Fazzino.