Repainting history

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A budding artist aims at

Mainstream media often criticizes social media due to the hazards it is associated with. They seem to be somewhat reluctant to emphasize its advantages. However, contemporary artistes who don’t make the grade and fail to receive the attention of mainstream media, try to find a way to promote themselves in these much criticized social media. It is surprising how social media community seems to embrace the talents of these artists, which is rejected by mainstream media.

Sithum Sudara Ranjithpriya, an artist adept at using paint to create live images on canvas, is one fine example on how artistic talent has been recognized by social media. He underscored that social media is an effective platform to promote an artist’s work free of charge. He admitted that his work received wide recognition soon after he published his work on Facebook support groups for artists and painters.’s quite fascinating to see how Sithum makes use of colors for painting portraits and figures where there’s little room for error. His paintings vary from sceneries to human figures. He gives prominence to historic themes in painting and has mastered his techniques enough to secure the liveliness of a portrait without failing to depict emotions through his work. 

Sithum, who recently turned 20, said that he mastered his painting skills observing his father’s work. His father, Ranmuthugala Ranjithpriya, is also a brilliant artist, who took up batik art as his profession. Ranjithpriya is also a talented cartoonist who contributed cartoon stories to several newspapers. Sithum’s alma mater was Yakkala Anura Maha Vidyalaya. Although his extraordinary talent in painting was recognized when he was very young, he said that he never felt the need to study art or drawing as a subject, because he knew that he couldn’t find a better teacher than his father to teach how to handle the paint brush.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Sithum also learnt the process of creating batik art at a very young age. When Sithum was just 17, his father let him take up the batik art business and make it profession. “Although I started helping my father out of curiosity and interest, today, batik designing is my main source of income,” Sithum said adding that batik designing helps him earn a reasonable income even though the industry is not well-established in the country.

Sithum believes that the batik art industry, if well established, is a great source of foreign revenue. Yet, he iterated that from what he has observed in the few years he has been involved in the batik industry, large scale businessmen in the industry deprive scale batik designers of their opportunities. “Our business doesn’t fail to make us a living. But, I don’t think we receive the due demand for our work,” he stressed.

He enjoys his profession as a batik designer. Yet, he says working with oil paint, water colors and poster colors bring him more joy. “I can’t express how happy I feel when I do a good job with my leisure time. Sometimes, while I draw, I deviate from my initial plan and add more detail and the end result surprises me,” he expressed his satisfaction in completing a drawing successfully. He added that if completely focused on the drawing, it takes him less than a day to finish a painting.

Among his work, illustrations depicting stories of Sigiriya Rock are exceptional. He gives prominence to minute details making the illustration come alive. When asked what helped him to envision these scenarios, Sithum said that he has done extensive research on the rock fortress. “I have loved Sigiriya, its frescos and the stories about it since I was a kid. Sigiriya fascinates me and this is the same reason I wanted to learn more about it.”

Sithum spent more than a month at the Sigiriya site because the information he gleaned from Mahavamsa and other written sources didn’t satiate his curiosity.

Sithum is more disposed to illustrating historic themes. “My next project is to gather information about Yapahuwa,” he said adding that the positive feedback received for his Sigiriya illustrations motivated him to do further research. He reiterated that his father is his guru who supported him in climbing the ladder.

Speaking further about the support he receives online, he mentioned local Facebook support groups like Art Gallery and Siththarunge Paradeesaya, especially created to support young painters. “Support and feedback received through these groups always encourage me,” he reflected while pointing out that these groups offer a platform where the strengths and weaknesses of products are discussed as well as criticized.

“I believe that these Facebook groups will be further strengthened and become more effective if the veterans in the field too can join. It will be for the benefit of all in the field,” he opined.  He added that he hasn’t noticed experienced professional artists sharing their knowledge much via online groups. “It’s not that there aren’t veterans who are willing to share knowledge. There are people who encourage us. But I believe this is not enough. Online support groups can be further organized and enhanced with the help of the veterans,” he said.

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