June 2008 - Vol. 20

Bella Italia 
landscape sketches from central Italy

by Mandy McFadden

I teach part time as an art Lecturer in a further education college in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a active member of Charis, a member community of the Sword of the Spirit, a wife and mother of three children, I have a very busy life. It has been difficult with all of my work, family, and community commitments to prioritise time to pursue my own creative work. Although my paid employment is in a creative enviroment, I have long felt the desire to become the 'pupil' rather than the teacher and to actively develop my own creative work again. Jamie Treadwell has been a great inspiration and encouragement in finding ways to do this as an outreach leader of Kairos and member of the Servants of the Word, a missionary brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. So it was with great anticipation that I joined his creative retreat with seven other artists in Italy this May. 

It was challenging and rewarding to have whole days to spend drawing and painting. I have a renewed sympathy with my own pupils, the first pencil mark is the hardest and it takes discipline to work through the mistakes. Evenings were spent around the dinner table discussing what we had achieved and encouraging each other to greater things. It was refreshing to spend time with people who are really enthusiastic about using their creativity for others rather than just for personal satisfaction. I have certainly come home challenged to find ways of developing my skills and enriching our community life through them.

An Artist's Sketchbook

The Italian landscape with its rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, and lovely villages, 
offer the landscape artist an endless array of subjects to paint and draw

we started the day together with prayer and 
a meditation from scripture and ended each evening with an outdoor Italian meal, lively discussion, and a review of the day's  work by each artist




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