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Montgomery Student’s Art Featured at Show

By Staff | Jan 21, 2009

Cows and chickens are easy to find near Scott and Penny Becher’s rural Elimsport home along Pikes Peak Road. But these are not the animals that their daughter chose to draw for her first grade art class assignments. Now a high school senior at Montgomery, Amanda Becher smiles as she remembers her favorite subjects: “I loved to draw unicorns and mermaids,” she said. “I never drew stick figure people with big heads!”

Recently, Amanda was recommended by her high school art teacher, Al Stola, to be the featured student at “StArt”, the student art gallery in the lobby of Williamsport’s Genetti Hotel. During the First Friday celebration on January 2, a variety of Amanda’s drawings and sketches were on display. “It was such a surprise to see how many people came to the show,” she said. She appreciated that many of her classmates took time to attend the event, as well as college-age friends who were home for the holidays.

Amanda is also grateful for the support she has received from her teachers in Montgomery, who “pay attention to the talents of their students.” “I still remember my weekly classes with Mrs. (Mary) McGarvey at Elimsport Elementary. We did self-portraits and learned about different mediums.”

Although Amanda’s scholastic art instruction ended after fifth grade, she discovered an additional outlet for her creativity. Her mother introduced her to the book “The Chronicles of Narnia” and, after she saw the film “Lord of the Rings,” and read the J.R.R. Tolkien classic, Amanda started to write her own fantasy stories. “I wrote crazy adventures about my classmates and aliens.”

But it wasn’t until she was in eighth grade that she allowed any of her teachers to read her stories. “Mr. (George) Vance encouraged me to learn how to develop my characters and plotline. He said that if I wanted to write, I should learn how to do it right.”

It was also during her eighth grade year that Amanda became the student of Al Stola, Montgomery’s middle and high school art instructor. According to Stola, “Very few students have as much natural artistic ability as Amanda. [She] is willing to spend the time to do things right; and she knows that to improve, she must work even harder.”

According to internationally known fantasy artist Ed Beard Jr., “Amanda possesses a natural ability in pencil work that is rare indeed. I also am incredibly impressed with her advanced writing skills. After working with several top fantasy authors over my 28 year career, Amanda is, in many cases, equally as talented in her fantasy writing skills as any of the authors I have worked with.” You can read an example of Amanda’s writing on Beard’s website, www.edbeardjr.com/braverylitshort.htm

Amanda has been accepted to attend the Art Institute of Pittsburgh this fall where she plans to study media arts and animation. While her ultimate career goal is to be an illustrator or do storyboards for Disney, Amanda would be equally thrilled to express her talent and creativity in fashion or costume design, or even designing wedding cakes. For now, however, she continues to faithfully carry her sketchbook and notebook, ready to record the next product of her imagination.