Campus is her canvas
Wright, Galax Gazette
Grayson County High School art teacher Jane
Blevins turns students’ pondering questions
into still-life answers by painting a
watercolor series of campus scenes that
reflect college and local high school
Her new series of high school-themed art
prints illustrate graduates wearing gowns on
each local school’s campus.
Blevins has set up a scholarship drive that
uses proceeds from each high school print
sold to raise money to send a child to art
school in Abingdon. Blevins hopes to raise
enough money to sponsor one child each from
Galax, Grayson County and Carroll County.
“I thought ‘what can I do to help?’” Blevins
said. “This fund gives a child the
opportunity to go to art school that might
not have the opportunity.”
Blevins received a bachelor’s degree in
history at Emory & Henry College and a
master’s degree in art education from
Radford University. She is an avid Virginia
Tech fan. Daughters Samantha and Stephanie
earned degrees from Tech.
Taking into account her experience as a
teacher, college student, mother and fan,
Blevins knows what it’s like for high school
students to have plenty of critical
questions and concerns before setting foot
on campus at their dream school.
“This is a time when students are making
decisions about college, so I like to do
visuals of all the discussions and
specifics,” said Blevins, who teaches art to
juniors and seniors at GCHS.
Blevins quizzes students about college
essentials, asking questions such as “What
is the mascot of Emory & Henry?” and
implements the answers into watercolor
Sometimes she gets phone calls or requests
to put certain college campuses into a
Her paintings are a collection of still-lifes
that represent the appearances and spirit of
campuses such as Radford University,
Virginia Tech, East Tennessee State
University, West Virginia University, Emory
& Henry, Wytheville Community College, the
University of Virginia, Wake Forest
University and other regional colleges.
In several college paintings, such as RU’s
“Highland Heritage” or “Tech Spirit” wine
bottles, books and glasses are clustered
together on a table, and each bottle label
is accented with images of college campus
Blevins is such a huge VT fan that she gets
most of her inspiration from the university.
Her basement walls are covered with orange
and maroon Hokie scenes.
In attending almost every football game at
Tech, Blevins walks around campus to get an
understanding of college life and to find
feelings that inspire new ideas. She
photographs any image that could perhaps be
the next painting.
She’s reminded of the excitement of football
games, meeting people at tailgate parties
and the strange emotions she felt after
being on a silent, somber campus just days
after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
“I’m constantly looking as people go on
In "Game Day," a football rests beside a
wine bottle with a decorative label, which
reflects the VT campus. After meeting
football coach Frank Beamer, he autographed
the football on the original painting.
One scene depicts Beamer as a young football
player, dressed in a football uniform and
carrying his helmet. Blevins got her nephew
to pose for the picture.
Several of her paintings include her
daughters and other children posing for
pictures, such as “Tech Girl,” which
represents one of her daughters wearing pig
tails and hiding her face behind a giant
orange and maroon lollipop.
Blevins is passionate in her feel of bright
colors. She recalls her artistic,
rambunctious childhood, when she left behind
paint spills and painted walls for her mom
to clean up.
“I made the biggest messes when I was
Seeing herself as a teacher instead of an
artist, Blevins rarely sold any of her art.
That is, up until three years ago.
Three years ago, Blevins handed an image to
her husband, Sam, a retired state trooper
who died in 2007.
A painted image showed young boys with a
bicycle looking over the railroad trestle.
Sam thought it was so beautiful that he took
it to have prints made.
“I wouldn’t have started selling my art if
it weren’t for him,” said Blevins.
Two years ago, Blevins captured a brief
photographic idea that got her a few minutes
of television fame on WDBJ7.
While at a Virginia Tech football game,
Blevins saw a young girl named Audrey
sporting a maroon and orange cheerleading
outfit and prissily tossing and dancing
around in a ruffled, feathered orange and
Always looking for new ideas for her series
of water-color college paintings, and after
asking for Audrey’s mother for permission,
Blevins snapped a photo.
She walked away and Audrey became lost in
the crowd before Blevins remembered to ask
for the girl’s full name.
After Blevins painted the image of Audrey,
she knew she had only a small chance of
finding the little girl, but decided to give
it a shot.
She called the television station and it
aired Blevins’ concern about wanting to find
Audrey to give her a copy of the painting.
Soon, the phone soon rang. Audrey lived only
a few miles away in Wytheville.
When Blevins showed up at Audrey’s door,
Audrey was decked out in her cheerleading
costume and presented Blevins with flowers.
“The thing I enjoy most is sharing my art
and watching people respond or smile,” she
said, in describing what it means to be an
Blevins revealed some of her memorable
After the Virginia Tech shootings last year,
Blevins painted an image of victims Emily
Hilscher, Matthew La Porte and Ryan Clark
and received a strong reaction from all
Blevins attended Tech’s cadet dinner, where
an honorary diploma, class ring and the
painted image were presented to La Porte's
“To be a part of that, I won’t forget it,”
said Blevins. “It’s seared in my mind
And when Blevins presented the painting to
Hilscher's family, they gripped Blevins in a
tight hug and wept of joyous memories of
“If I see that a painting makes a connection
with people, that’s a good thing.
“I like a reaction, and I hope it holds a
special memory. An image is something
viewers can view each day and connect with.”
As an artist and teacher, Blevins claims
that she has one of the best careers
possible — inspiring students to release
their creativity. She calls her skill a
learning process by which she passes
knowledge on to her students.
“If they’re not challenged, they’re not
going to learn. By the end of the day, they
have something they can take home and feel
“I make sure my students learn something
each day. When they leave I know that I’ve
taught them to my best ability.”
Blevins could have retired three years ago,
but instead remains on the move, always
maintaining a tight, busy schedule.
During the day, she teaches art to high
school students. By night, she instructs an
aerobics class at the Wellness Center in
Galax and works hours on her paintings.
“I stay busy. It keeps me out of trouble.”
Most people don’t realize the time that is
put into one painting. “However, it’s
pleasure time, not work time,” she said.
“It’s a stress reliever, and hopefully I can
feel an accomplishment when it’s over.”
And now Blevins is creating illustrations
for the children’s book “What’s a Hokie,
Mommy?” that will feature some of Blevins’
The book is in partnership with her friend
and retired English teacher Candy Reedy, and
is expected to be completed and printed by
Blevins’ artwork can be purchased at several
local galleries, such as The Framer’s
Daughter, New River Florist, Grayson Florist
and Back Porch Gallery. It is also on
display at Bogeys Restaurant in Galax. For
more information and a complete list of
prints, see janeblevinsart.com or call