It’s All in Our Heads

In this episode, painter Mandy Bing takes us not only behind the scenes of planning the Festival, but into her head, too!


Some artists have visions in their heads and are able to beautifully execute those visions onto canvas.  I’m not one of them.  I paint what I see.  I’m primarily a portrait artist, so I suppose it goes with the territory.

Blog Photo - SOTH mandy Bing The-Crossing-24X36-Available

Painting made-up stuff has always been difficult for me.  I’m much more comfortable using observation and solid references for my work.  Although there is a broad scope of artistic licence in the process, my finished pieces usually resemble the subject.  At least, that’s my goal.

Blog Photo - SOTH Mandy Bing The-Lookout

So some years ago when I decided to enter a juried show at the John Parrott Gallery, I knew it was going to be a stretch creatively speaking. Terrifying even. The theme was broad — “Liminal/Subliminal” — and what the heck did it even mean?

I finally decided the theme was about “transition”, specifically that state between sleeping and waking.  Next came the thought of Hallowe’en, a time when imagination runs wild. Can there be a more perfect metaphor for the idea of transition?  It exemplifies the process of crossing “between” — light to dark, good to evil.

You can’t really have Hallowe’en without kids involved. I corralled my great-nephews and niece to pose for me.  They were very enthusiastic. 

A painting called “Surfacing” emerged.

Blog Photo - SOTH Mandy Bing Surfacing Painting

The idea behind the painting (and title) is that it’s done from the perspective of someone lying on the ground looking up.   I hoped the viewer would immediately be drawn into the narrative of the painting.  Who is it?  Why are they on the ground? Was the person unconscious? What happened just prior to this moment?

The three children looking down invite more questions.  One looks concerned, one is hesitant and one is curious, smiling slightly. In the background is a large Church spire, glowing eerily in the setting sun. It looks ominous, not inspiring.  Night and full dark are a few minutes away.

As it turns out,  it wasn’t only accepted into the juried show, it won the “People’s Choice” award. I’m hoping that’s in part because of the narrative I tried to communicate. 

Blog Photo - SOTH Mandy Bing - Rising Star

That experience gave me confidence to create more imaginative paintings — just in time for the 2019 Festival of Arts.

For the inaugural 2017 Festival of Arts event, the Visual Arts Committee of SOTH hosted The Great Portrait Challenge. Four members of SOTH were invited to create a portrait of a local celebrity (Lou Rinaldi) in three short hours.   

Blog Photo - SOTH Lou Rinaldi 2017 Portrait Challenge

For the upcoming 2019 Festival, the contest takes a very creative and collaborative turn.

The new event is a “Battle of the Brushes”.  Artists will be matched with SOTH writers and challenged to paint an image inspired by the author’s book. 

At the Festival itself, the artists will then complete a painting (or drawing) within a certain time limit.  It’s a spectator sport; we want to encourage attendees to see the creative process in progress.  Visitors will be asked to submit ballots to vote for their favourite pieces with a chance to win both the original piece of art and the book.


At the end of the day, both writers and artists create narratives.  At the Battle of the Brushes event, we hope these two worlds collide!

While the painting event is happening, there will be other art events to entertain visitors, including a new square-foot show.  Every piece of artwork (photographs and paintings) is 12″X12″ with a price tag of $75.  A bargain — and perfect for all of us with limited wall space.

We are currently discussing a fine craft display and sale as well, so there is something for everyone. Come and see creative vision in action!

To see more of Mandy’s work:

To Contact Spirit of the Hills:




One Comment Add yours

  1. kimaubrey says:

    Gorgeous paintings!

    Liked by 1 person

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