Gobble de Art Blog

Articles tagged as Artist Spotlight (view all)

Artist Q & A with Heather Gearhart

06 March, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

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.

Artist Q and A with Gwynn Hamilton

23 March, 2018 0 comments Leave a comment

Gwynn Hamilton is a seasoned Gobble de Art artist that has been with the program since the beggining. When she's not busy painting Hokie Birds, you can find her and her husband at the local Blacksburg Farmer's Market, or helping around the farm.

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

A. I worked with the Downtown Merchants and through that, I was involved with The Blacksburg Partnership. I have seen the cows and lobster that other communities have, so I was excited to see what a program like that would be like within our own community. I submitted a design and signed up. I painted birds within the initial flock, so I have been a bird painter since the very beginning. If I am trying to make small talk with someone, or if I am playing a party game, my little-known fact is that I paint Hokie Birds.

Q. What is the most challenging aspect?

A. I like the design process and the challenge of trying to implement the clients vision on an nontraditional surface. That is the most challenging part of painting the Hokie Birds— the bumpy nature of the surface. The most difficult bird that I ever painted was from a Northern Virginia affiliate of Virginia Tech. The client was hoping for a lot of architectural rendering on arms and chest of the Hokie Bird. I found that you must find some middle ground of impressionism because you’re not going to get it exact.

Q. What was your favorite bird to work on?

A. I was most pleased with the one I finished, the Theodore Roosevelt Hokie. I didn’t have to do architectural rendering and I could make it look like a bird but with famous features. I got to do research on Theodore Roosevelt, which was fun because I used to work at Frederic Remington Art Museum in New York. Frederic Remington painted Theodore Roosevelt, so I got to pull that information from my experience and use it again.

Q. When you’re not painting Hokie Birds, what kind of art do you like to do?

A. I love oil painting, but I have simplified my life and try to do water colors because the cleanup is easier. I like to do Georgia O’ Keeffe style paintings. I’ll take something small in nature and blow it up really big. I enjoy painting nuts, walnut pods and seed pods.

Q & A with Artist Carole Davis

05 December, 2017 0 comments Leave a comment

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

A. Initially I was a part of a committee to approve the designs of the Hokie Birds. We had to go through the idea process and figure out how it was going to work. We had strict guidelines set by The Blacksburg Partnership and Virginia Tech Licensing and our job was to decide what was appropriate. It was a quite a fun process with the dinners and the auctions. I found out that one of the committee members had already painted a bird or two, and I said, “Gosh I want to paint one too but I thought we weren’t allowed.” So I got vocal. I made a statement—I expressed a desire.

Q. What is your favorite part about working on a bird?

A. The design process and the creativity involved. Especially if I’m working with a client. For instance, I did a project for the fire department in Blacksburg. They wanted a commemorative bird, I painted a fireman bird and it had a certain process. It is a part of decoration if you will and it is used for a certain purpose. Working for 4-H at Smith Mountain Lake was a lot of fun. Especially the school bus safety bird. I had to work out the design to tell a story, to be representative of an idea. The bird sent a message and was able to teach children through pictures. I mentioned the fireman Hokie Bird. The challenge I had with that was making the bird cute enough so it wouldn’t scare young children so that they could use it to teach. When you’re targeting children you need to make the eyes big and bright and colorful. I’ve enjoyed the painting but I really enjoy the design. I’ve enjoyed seeing the joy that others have when they see the Hokie Birds.

Q. What is the most difficult aspect?

A. To be honest, it is the painting process itself. Some of it goes quickly and you think that you’re making good progress. The precision and detail that I like to put into the bird is very time consuming so that’s the most difficult part. The precision that I enjoy putting into my bird creates a slow down and with that comes impatience and that can become difficult. I mount my bird on a little rolling stand, it has rollers on the bottom so I can move it to better lighting. The birds are big and cumbersome so if I didn’t have that it would be difficult. I’ve created ways to make it physically easy for me, but at times, I get bogged down with detail. Sometimes you find that the paint didn’t turn out as well, so with the help of sandpaper you can correct things. It is a labor of love. It is a self imposed problem. I want my presentation to be as good as I can make it. It is a carry over with what I do with my own art.

Q. What other kinds of art do you do?

A. I was an art major in college, I started at Mary Washington- it was called college then, Mary Washington College. I’ve been an active artist with water media and water colors.

Q. Is there anything that you would like to add?

A. I’ve enjoyed each Hokie Bird for different reasons, I’ve enjoyed meeting the people who have wanted to create the Hokie Birds. It has been an experience to be able to work with new people and make sure they get what they want and deserve. It brings joy to a lot of people beyond those that commission the Hokie Birds. The end result brings smiles and joy and fun even if the process isn’t always fun.

Artist Spotlight: Candace Monaghan

10 July, 2017 0 comments Leave a comment

We know the Hokie Birds as the whimsical statues seen around Blacksburg, but from an artist’s perspective, the statues mean much more— just ask Candace Monaghan, Gobble De Art artist. She’s known as the “Hokie Bird Painter,” back in her hometown of Buchanan, Virginia.  Candace Monaghan has a very special part in the Gobble De Art program.

Candace has been a member of the flock family since the early stages of the art project, back in 2006. She brings her eye for design and bubbly personality into play when creating the beloved Hokie Birds. Candace sat down with us to share what it is really like to have “5-Foot Hokie Bird Painter” listed on her resume.

“The process is very client-driven. I work with a client to sketch out a unique Hokie Bird design. We go back and forth to get the design just right. Then we go through the process of getting the design approved by licensing,” says Candace.

Creating a bird is intricate and time consuming. The completion of a single hand-crafted bird takes about 6 months or more. The birds must be sanded, wiped down with an alcohol solution, and primed before Candace can even begin the painting step.

“It takes me a minimum of 20 hours to paint the bird. The longest that I have ever worked to paint a bird is 70 hours,” says Candace, “The time varies from bird to bird.”

The best part about Candace’s job, is getting to see her designs brighten up the lives of others. She enjoys making designs with meaning.

“My favorite bird took 70 hours to paint. The bird had an American flag with Lane Stadium painted on the back of the tail. The Hokie Bird was commissioned by a father who dedicated the design to his son who was in the military.” Says Candace.

Hokie Bird painting isn’t the only thing she can do. Candace enjoys graphic design, photographing  nature and creating fine arts. She even has her own design business. You can see more of Candace’s work here:  http://candacemonaghandesign.com/

You can get your own hand painted Hokie Bird! We have a great selection 2-foot Hokie Birds, that are all painted by local artists, just like Candace. To see our wide selection of 2-foot Hokie Birds, click the link to our store: https://www.gobbledeart.org/collections/all?page=2. If you are interested in getting your own 5-Foot Hokie Bird commissioned, visit us at: https://www.gobbledeart.org/products/create-your-own.