Blooming into an artist

Senior Gloria Montellano works toward an art career


Andrea Plascencia

A close up view of the blue flower mural painted by senior Gloria Montellano.

An ordinary day in her life smells like paint and charcoal. Ah yes, the sweet scent of creativity and self-expression. Some people depend on their morning coffee for a sense of stability. To her, art is the steaming mug of coffee that keeps her moving. 

Senior Gloria Montellano has been infatuated with art her entire life. Initially, creating art was a mere past time, just an elective to fill in her ordinary schedule. She didn’t plan on going anywhere with it, but the affirmative comments from her peers and the people around her helped her realize her capability. 

“At some point, I realized that I do have a thing,” Montellano said. “Like, I’m actually good at something, so [I’ve] kept at it.”

[I don’t want] to get caught up in [everything] and [develop] a big ego about [my art]. That’s my worst fear. [I don’t want to] lose the value of what I’m doing.

— senior Gloria Montellano

Another factor in Montellano’s continued love for art is her art teacher, Eric Champion, who has recognized her artistic uniqueness, promise and devotion since her freshman year of high school. 

“She doesn’t have to try to make things happen, they just happen,” Champion said. “There’s a tenacity to her, like she just says ‘I’m gonna make this,’ and then she just does it.”

Although the vast majority of Montellano’s high school career has been crowded with countless projects, she believes her current project, a mural, is her greatest task yet. This mural not only gives Montellano the chance to be creative and expand her vision in a new medium, but it allows her to showcase her art to the public. 

“[To anyone else], it’s just a mural,” Montellano said. “But when I got it approved [in October], when I finally got that notice, it kind of kicked in. It was like ‘Oh, I am the youngest person in Denton County to have a mural. This is weird.’ For me, that realization kicks in and it’s kind of mind-blowing. It kind of shows how far [I’ve] gotten in life.”

Aside from his recognition of Montellano’s distinctive artistry, Champion is a firm believer that Gloria holds the ability to pursue art professionally. He hopes to guide her in a positive direction and assist her in selecting a profession through which she can find joy and fulfillment. 

“I’m not trying to ship her with [an art] career,” Champion said. “I want her to have a job that she’s happy with and I don’t want her to settle. I just want all the good things for her. I just want her to be happy and productive, and I don’t ever want her to settle because she’s an exceptional human.” 

Andrea Plascencia
Senior Gloria Montellano adds finishing touches to her yellow flower mural.

Despite being known for her artistic ingenuity, Montellano’s friends take notice of her other characteristics. In particular, her boldness and bravery. Senior Garrett Hicks, a longtime friend of Montellano’s, takes inspiration from these noteworthy qualities of hers. 

“I’ve learned to not be afraid to speak my mind,” Hicks said. “She has no problem with that.”

As ecstatic as Montellano was to learn that her mural was approved, getting to said point was no walk in the park. Part of the process consisted of figuring out exactly what she wanted the mural to be. After solidifying an idea she encountered plenty of challenges, a significant one being the disapproval of her mural by people around her. Montellano, however, did not let the opinions of others intervene with the art she was determined to make. 

“Having that experience of people telling you ‘Oh, we don’t like it,’ I was just fueled by that,” Montellano said. “I was like ‘Yes, I’m gonna do it anyway.’”

Another significant quality that Champion recognizes is Montellano’s overbearing willingness to be her own person. With a constant desire to create and a strong sense of self, Champion is certain that the future is bright for the young artist. 

“Artistically, she’s the captain of her own ship,” Champion said. “I mean, I might be able to say ‘Hey, you could try this,’ but Glo really has her own artistic vision of where she wants to go with things and I love that. She will say these things that are [so bold]. She does not suffer fools and she will just say ‘This is what I think and this is it,’ but she doesn’t say it in a confrontational, aggressive, ‘let’s fight,’ way. It’s always observational. She’s just gotten so much braver as she’s gotten older. She’s so much bolder than she used to be and I love that. She’s not even done, she doesn’t even know where she’s going, she’s still got so much [ahead].”

She’s not even done, she doesn’t even know where she’s going, she’s still got so much [ahead].

— art teacher Eric Champion

Looking forward, Montellano hopes to attend the University of North Texas and become an art teacher herself. Although she is pretty certain of her career choice, she continues to plan and occupy herself with other projects on the side. 

“I’m going into college to study visual art studies,” Montellano said. “Basically, [I want to] become a high school teacher for art. At first, I thought about getting a Ph.D., but that’s 10 years [of school] so I’m settling with [teaching] high school. I’ve [also] started working on my tattoo portfolio, cause that’s my plan B in case college doesn’t work out.”

Life is beginning to shift for Montellano as she steps out of her comfort zone and focuses on making art that is an accurate depiction of who she is. Still, regardless of the recognition and praise from those around, she prioritizes humility. She is set on making sure that whether or not she makes it in the art world, she stays true to her craft. 

“[I don’t] want to lose the real reason why I like art,” Montellano said. “[I don’t want] to get caught up in [everything] and [develop] a big ego about [my art]. That’s my worst fear. [I don’t want to] lose the value of what I’m doing.”