By: Rachel A. Curry
Photographer, artist, author and musician are all words that describe the very talented Amanda Fox. She credits her poor start off in life as one of the many ways she has developed creatively over the years. Fox learned from a young age how to make a work of art out of a Pringles can, such as a kaleidoscope. As Fox’s life has changed, her artistic spirit has grown with her as more time unexpectedly came on her hands to spend doing things she has always loved. One of her most recent projects is a children book series titled, “The Adventures of Tilly and Boo.” Currently, she is working on the first book, which she hopes to have finished by the beginning of the year; a book signing will be held at Our Town Books.
The idea for the series came about thanks to her four-year-old niece, Adelaide Apel, and almost two-year-old nephew, Declen Apel, of Peoria, Ill. Fox writes custom songs for her niece and nephew. For example, Fox wrote a song to “Rockin’ Robin” for Adelaide. Her book series is a spin-off of the custom songs. In the first book, “Tilly Finds a Friend,” Tilly, a bunny, runs away from home after hurting a sister’s feelings. Tilly’s family is looking for Tilly; all the while, Tilly is trying to make a new friend. After meeting an owl who sips tea, bull frog and so on, Tilly befriends Boo, a fawn. Fox said the two will get into a lot of mischief together. All of the illustrations will be watercolor.
Fox’s youngest sister, Katherine Fern Wright, of Nashville, Tenn., helped Fox come up with Tilly’s name. Wright said Fox’s drawing of Tilly reminded her of a ‘Cotton Tilly,’ which is Tilly’s official name, and ‘Tilly’ is the nickname. The fawn, Boo, is named ‘Boo’ because his twin likes to scare him.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” Fox said.
Other interests of fox include family history and genealogy. Through genealogy websites Fox was able to find her great-great aunt, Imogene Haulin. Fox got to meet Haulin before Haulin passed away. Her family lived in Pike County at a place called Mossy Mountain. Fox was inspired by all that she learned and is in the process of writing an historical fiction three part book series called “Tales from Mossy Mountain.” The side of her family she is writing about is her mother’s, Rhonda Beauchamp; mother’s, the late Betty Leahr, side. Fox said she won an award for the first book in the series, and is currently working on the second book. “It’s loosely based on my family,” she said.
On Facebook, people will be able to buy Fox’s mixed media artwork and her photography. Fox said people are able to find mixed media ideas on Pinterest. For her mixed media artwork, Fox collects everything from finds at yard sales to old newspapers, or books to items found at hardware stores. The odds and ends are used together to make a piece of art. “It’s very popular right now, which is funny because when I started it wasn’t,” she said. “It’s not met to be perfect. Some of the beauty is in the imperfections.”
Fox has also always loved taking pictures of birds and nature. She remembers when she first got a camera in the first grade, and she went and took pictures of birds. Fox thought they would be great photos, but they were mainly of branches. Needless to say Fox’s photography skills have changed since the first grade, and she now takes professional pictures such as portraits and of wildlife.
Her time is also spent learning and playing musical instruments, like the alto flute and mountain dulcimer.
Fox credits her chance to spend more of her time creatively with her diagnosis of a brain tumor, known as pituitary macro adenoma. Her tumor grew at the pituitary gland causing an excess of growth hormone. Fox said her tumor grew outside her brain and filled her sinus cavities. Due to her condition and treatments, Fox was no longer able to be a full-time graphic and web design consultant. She provided professional creative services to companies for graphic design, web development and instructural design through her former business, Amanda Fox Design. She also was a high school instructor at Routt Catholic High School for almost five years.
She is in gratitude to her husband, Adam Fox, and parents, Rhonda and Terry Beauchamp, for all that they have done for her. “I could not do this without them,” Fox said. “My mom is with me almost every day. She takes me places.” Fox and her husband, Adam, whom she calls a “hottie,” reside in Woodson, Ill.
Fox admits she has her dark moments when dealing with the changes in her life because of her tumor. She takes pride in all that she accomplished with Amanda Fox Designs. Fox still keeps up with her former students, too. While the tumor, and the side effects of treatments for her tumor, have kept her from working full-time and being able to drive, Fox continues to look to her creative side to find the silver lining of the life she lives today. Fox knows if it wasn’t for her tumor, it would not have been possible for her to explore her creative side like she has. “I never even would have had time to do things like this,” she said. “I had more time to be creative as life changed.”