Christmas card image captures essence of rural school life in Co Down

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A Christmas card, based on a painting created by a Co Down school boy, is wowing hundreds of people who have received the festive wishes contained therein over the past couple of weeks.

The student in-question is John Killen, a Year 9 pupil at Ballynahinch’s St Colman’s High School and Sixth Form College.

The painting features a Hereford animal with a Christmas holly wreath around its neck. Also included is the school logo.

“The painting took two days to complete,” John explained.

“I found the photo of the animal that I wanted on the internet. It took one day to sketch out the painting in pencil. The second day was taken up with adding the water colour paints.

“I made the eye of the animal the very centre of the painting. It took a lot of time to get that part of the painting exactly as I wanted it.”

John hails from Ballynahinch. The family farm is home to beef cattle, sheep and turkeys, which are kept specifically for the Christmas market.

The Killens are no strangers to success in the commercial cattle classes held at Balmoral and many of the local shows held across Northern Ireland during the summer months.

John created his painting as part of a competition held across all age groups at the school to come up with an image that would feature on the annual St Colman’s Christmas card. This year a total of 250 students submitted entries.

The judging was undertaken by School Principal Mark Morgan and a number of his teaching colleagues. John’s prize comprised an artist’s case, a selection of paint brushes and, of course, the honour of having his work featured on St Colman’s official Christmas card for 2018.

A total of 500 cards have now been signed and sent out to parents of children at St Colman’s, school governors and friends of the school.

“The response back from people receiving the cards has been very positive,” confirmed Mark Morgan.

“We are a rural school and the painting created by John was very fitting for our Christmas card this year. Well done to him.”

John has told Farming Life that he will certainly continue-on with art for GCSE. But deep down inside, he wants to be a farmer.