Artist Q & A with Heather Gearhart

Introducing one of the talented artists behind the paint brush, Heather Gearhart. Heather has painted many birds that are special to the Roanoke and New River Valley, and beyond. Her artwork brings together creativity and flair that is enjoyed by all.


Q. How did you get involved in the Gobble de Art program?


A. I interviewed for it with Diane and Marissa and I was really excited about the project. I have a full-time job in healthcare, so art is a hobby for me. It helps to keep my stress level down and is something that I do for fun on the side. Doing it for Virginia Tech is amazing and is something I love to do. I was really excited for it.


Q. What are some of the birds that you are working on right now?


A. I am finishing up one now for a private home client. It’s a fitness related bird for a gentleman to give to his wife for her birthday. His wife is very fit and teaches fitness classes, so it has a fitness theme built around it. It has fitness pants, athletic gear and athletic shoes—which I have been wanting to do for a long time, so it’s a lot of fun. I’ve really been able to use my imagination, it’s been great to work on.  


Q. What has been your favorite bird to paint?


A. I think when I’m working on one it’s always my favorite at the time. I try to get the background story on each bird from the client and I sort of talk to the birds. This sounds insane, but I talk to the birds as I’m working on them and I name them. The one that has been the most meaningful to me was two or three birds ago. I happened to start working on one that was dedicated to a friend of the client that had passed away from cancer. It just so happened at the same time my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Working on that bird helped me work through that journey with my sister and it was very meaningful to me.


Q. Do you create other kinds of art?


A. Yes, I work on canvas with acrylic and oil paint.


Q. What is the hardest part about painting a Hokie bird?

A. Probably working on a three-dimensional surface. I don’t know that it’s hard, but it’s challenging. Taking another person’s vision and working with the client to make sure you match your vision with theirs is difficult. Meeting the client’s expectations from afar is also a challenge and I want to live up to their expectations each time.


Q. What kind of Hokie bird would you like to see one day?


A. I would love to paint something hippy-dippy. A bird with flowers and psychedelic colors – I would love to do that someday!


Q. Do you have anything you would like to add?

A. I absolutely love doing this. It’s such a rewarding experience and I hope to do it for years and years to come.

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