Meagan Brooker refreshes her positivity and creativity in European painting tour

High school visual arts teacher Meagan Brooker enters her 16th year at Wesleyan with a renewed perspective on creativity, exploration, and the visual arts process, thanks to the Wesleyan Summer Sabbatical Grant. During June, Brooker spent 14 days touring and studying plein air painting, or painting on site, in Italy, France, and Spain. 
“The sabbatical gave me such a unique opportunity to immerse myself in other cultures while prioritizing a field of personal interest,” explains Brooker. “I enjoyed learning from three different painters who gave me constructive feedback and widened my view of how to approach a subject in unique ways.” 
Brooker first arrived in Florence, Italy and took a two-day class focused on landscapes. During the classes she painted from a small villa outside of the city. Also in Florence, Brooker learned to prepare home-made pasta with the freshest ingredients from the local market.  
From Florence, Brooker travelled to Cinque Terre and took an outdoor watercolor class focused on capturing the authentic charm of the stunning and colorful views. She also enjoyed immersing herself in photography here thanks to the idyllic views around every corner. 
After two days in Cinque Terre, Brooker explored Provence, France first via food tour and then through an 18-hour experiential painting course. On the food tour, Brooker sampled a variety of artisan products including olive oil, tapenade, truffle, and calisson, a traditional French candy. The painting course first brought Brooker to the Luberon village of Saignon where she painted the infamous lavender fields. Then, she visited and painted the famous yellow and red cliffs of Roussillon. 
From Provence, Brooker flew to Barcelona, Spain. Brooker’s jam-packed day in Barcelona included a bike tour focused on architect Antoni Gaudi and how his faith impacted his work. The tour culminated with a visit to La Sagrada Familia, a visit that Brooker describes as “the most spiritual experience I have ever had. It’s stunning.” 
Throughout the trip, Brooker logged her experience in her sketch book.  
“I filled a sketchbook with lesson ideas, helpful advice, and small moments that may turn out to be quite impactful in how I see the world, art, and culture. I feel renewed in perspective and approach to art, which I hope in turn to impart to my students,” Brooker shares. 
“Ultimately, I am excited to bring the renewed positivity and hope that I have found in this experience that will help my students to understand that: 
  • everyone is unique, and that is God’s beautiful design,
  • perfection is not as important as process and exploration,
  • and it’s important to spend time doing what you love!” 
The Wesleyan Summer Sabbatical Grant encourages faculty to pursue a lifetime of learning. Grant recipients may apply their funds to study, volunteer work, Christian missions, research, or other scholarly activities. Lower school teacher Laura Jensen also earned a 2022 Wesleyan Summer Sabbatical Grant, and by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, she challenged herself and learned more about God’s provision. Read more about Jensen’s story here. High school math teacher Ashley Stainback also earned a 2022 Wesleyan Summer Sabbatical Grant. Her love for math was strengthened on her European tour. Read more here.