As Virginia Tech alumni, I was totally delighted to be part of the Gobble de Art project sponsored by The Blacksburg Partnership!

In mid-summer 2005, I was nominated to paint the prototype model of the fiberglass Hokie Bird statues that will be gracing the streets of Blacksburg, Virginia, in Summer 2006.  My model, which was a little more than two feet tall, was a custom creation by a talented fiberglass statue company.  It is a much smaller version, as the 75 other statues are five feet tall.

I was invited to attend The Blacksburg Partnership board meeting and luncheon held in Blacksburg in September 2005, where I picked up the battleship-gray primed Hokie Bird statue.  For the next few weeks, the Gobbler was my baby!

Artist and VT Grad, Sarah Meadows

Long before I even had the statue in my custody, I had to conceive a plan for the design.  The challenge was the fact that I was used to being primarily a two-dimensional painter.  As I drew up the plans, I reminded myself, "This is simply a painting on a bird-shaped canvas!"

So after hours and days of conceptual sketches, I finalized my plans for the design.  I drew front and back versions.

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For my design, I chose to feature landmarks and buildings around the Virginia Tech campus as well as scenes from downtown Blacksburg.  The slogan for the Gobble de Art project is "The Gobblers are Coming...", so I incorporated that, as well as the Gobble de Art logo, into my design.  A path meanders through the painted scenes (over all surfaces/sides of the statue), and if you look closely, you'll see the Gobbler's tracks, as he is STROLLIN' AROUND HOKIE TOWN (my painting's title, incidentally)!
I began by lightly sanding the statue with 400 grit sandpaper, and "degreased" him with isopropyl alcohol.  Then I added a double coat of acrylic gesso.

On top of the gesso, I applied a triple coat of cream-colored liquid acrylic, which I planned on using as a background "peeking" out every once in awhile.  The cream made for a warmer background color than the stark white gesso.

The cream undercoat, with white gessoed base still visible.

I painted the base maroon.

I couldn't wait to put the "good stuff" on the bird.  With my design sketches always within an arm's reach and a rainbow of acrylic paints (and teeny tiny brushes), I got to work!

Here I sit, working on the Gobble de Art logo. 
Please note my bent they become key players in the following days...

I'll bet you are wondering what I meant by my above caption.  Well, the day after that picture was taken, I had a knee dislocation while at my day job!  So.... the rest of the project was spent in spurts; when I felt like it, when I was full of pain medication, and in TWO leg braces (one stiff, the other one flexible).  Painting became an arduous task, yet I did find it to be tremendous therapy for me!  Since I had to take time off from my day job, this time of recuperation was entirely devoted to Gobble de Art.
The afternoon I came home all braced and immobilized from the emergency room, I received a phone call from Greg Esposito, a reporter with The Roanoke Times newspaper.  He was doing a feature article on the Gobble de Art project, and wanted to send someone out to photograph me working on the statue.

The next day, Pamela Chen came out to take some shots of me working.  I was really disappointed that at that particular time, I wasn't very far along with the painting.  But it didn't take long for me to get caught up!

The newspaper article came out the following week, and covered nearly the entire front page of the Virginia section.  Greg and Pamela did a great job.

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Two weeks later, the bird was complete.  Diane Akers, Executive Director for The Blacksburg Partnership, came by and picked up the Gobbler statue.  I had to tell my "baby" goodbye, but knew he was in excellent hands and was on his way to meeting all sorts of new people and going new places!  Now that statue really is Strollin' Around Hokie Town!


These pictures were taken at various times during the project's completion.

Whether you are an artist or a local business or individual, you can get involved with Gobble de Art.  For more information on statue sponsorship, ownership, or the call to artists, please visit The Blacksburg Foundation's official Gobble de Art website, their link will open a separate window.)


Special thanks to Diane Akers, Janet Johnson, Derek Myers, Greg Esposito, Pamela Chen, The Blacksburg Partnership Board members, and especially my family for allowing me to turn the dining room into an art studio for this project! 
Thank you, God, for giving me the strength and ability to complete this project during a difficult time.



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