A world of colour

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They are just lines of black that are joined together. Many long and short black strokes come together to create a picture. Then comes the colour in all forms of lines, stripes, circles, squares and triangles, and the painting is finally complete.

These are the line drawings and paintings that artist Chandana Ranaweera has put together to create unique and unusual forms of art with in-depth meaning, that only a few people can understand. Ranaweera is one of the few artists who create pieces of art in the form of line drawings and paintings at the same time.

Mixing a variety of colours with lines of yellow, blue, red, pink, orange, black, brown, green, and purple is all he needs to create the picture that is in his mind. Pen, ink and a little imagination; and the result is line drawings and paintings on a variety of subjects. 

He has his own perception as a mature artist with a clear vision and doesn’t stop until he has put down what he has in his mind, in the form of a painting or line drawing. He draws inspiration from various aspects of life. Nature, human figure, natural landscapes, simple activities in village life, mythology, and culture inspires him to draw but among these inspirations religion plays a major role, evident by the amount Buddhism and Hinduism-related line paintings Ranaweera has done.

“My paintings are based on people’s lives, Buddhism, Hinduism, music, and mythology. My head is always full of thoughts on Buddhism and Hinduism. So, most of my paintings are based on those thoughts,” Ranaweera told Ceylon Today.          

Ranaweera started drawing when he was in first grade in school. By the time he reached Grade 10 he had developed his artistic skills to the extent where he was drawing on a professional level. He comes from a family of artists. His father was the Principal and Art Teacher at the Alawwa Galgamuwa Vidyalaya and his mother was a teacher at the Kamitu Kanishta Vidyalaya now known as the Rathanalankara Maha Vidylaya. Ranaweera also taught Art in the same school for 13 years.

His brother Kusum Srilal Ranaweera teaches Art at the Mayurapada Maha Vidyalaya Narammala and his second brother the late Sidath Nanda Ranaweera was also an artist. His main training came from S.M. Jayatilleka who is an arts teacher at Maliyadeva Vidyalaya. Then he was trained by the Head of Sri Lanka Tourist Board, artist G. Malaviarachchi. He then enrolled himself in an art class under the guidance of artist Sumana Dissanayake and studied art for three months.

“I use an A4 photocopy paper, cut it in two and draw a sketch with a black gel pen. Then I use Platignum colour pens, colour pencils and gel colour pens to colour the picture. I use bright colours for my paintings. Once the picture is complete I use squares, rounds and triangles among shapes to decorate the background of my painting,” Ranaweera explained.

Over the years Ranaweera has evolved his own personal style without the need to copy or imitate other painters. For this artist of unusual calibre, it was the attraction of ballpoint pens in a variety of colours and the strong influence of a rural atmosphere to which he was born, that inspired him to initially start painting. “I first started drawing with black ballpoint pens. Then I started adding colour to the black ballpoint pen drawings by using coloured ballpoint pens. Thereafter, I shifted to painting in water colours,” Ranaweera said. After many years of experimenting Ranaweera’s paintings today stand out due to the artistic and unique methods he uses to paint.

He has held nine exhibitions up to date and has over the years got a good response for his paintings and line drawings, some of which he has sold to those interested in the arts.

By Risidra Mendis