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A creative soul cannot and must not be tamed, for they take us on some of the most colorful journeys and help us perceive the world through their eyes! Our artist in conversation today is Nilantha Vidanarachchi, a realistic painter who gives life to some of the most magical landscapes and portraits. Speaking with him was truly inspiring as he spoke of his challenges and victories through the years. We are privileged to share his interview with you today!

How long have you been painting?

I started painting from my younger days, and along the way I deviated from it and went on to find a more lucrative business?But I realized through the years that my soul was not satisfied? I was a tour guide for many years and I saw so many beautiful landscapes and historical places in our country and I had an urge to paint all of them for the world to see. And I am glad to say that since 2004, for the last 16 years, I have been following my heart and my passion.

Who are your greatest influencers?

I am inspired and influenced by artists of the renaissance period. Caravaggio and Michealangelo to name a few. They were more realistic artists which is a style I very much appreciate.

Did you have a formal education on art and painting or are self-taught?

No, I have not had any formal education on art. I am a self-taught artist. I love the fact that I can portray reality as it is through my Art.

Do you have a particular style? How did you become so passionate of this style?

As mentioned before, I am a Realistic Artist. I do portraits, live paintings and I try to expose every emotion, facial expression or the colors with every brush stroke as it is. It is a very challenging style which is why I have fallen in love with it. There aren't many Sri Lankan artists who are realistic painters.

What are other passions other than art? How have these passions contributed for you to become the artist you are today?

I watch movies and sports during my free time. Some of the movies are on artists and their life which inspires me because I often realize that my struggles and disappointments are often similar. It is also a great way to learn about how different painting styles evolved. I browse the Internet and learn about Art which helps me improve myself.

Could you walk us through the process? Percentage wise, how much time do you spend preparing for the painting and how much time on the actual painting itself? Is preparation an important part of your process?

To begin with, If the painting required is from a historical period, then I conduct some research to understand the background story, to learn the mode used during the time and see how best I can match the colors and style. This process takes quite a bit of time as I need to prepare myself first. If It is a still life or a live painting, I may take some time to mix the colors and observe the object or the person. But it is often quick work which needs to be done then and there.

Are you engaged in new artistic adventures? How is artistic exploration important to you as an artist and to your process? How do you then decide what to incorporate into your style and what you leave as pure fun?

Well, as I explained before, I spend time on the internet, learning about artists and their paintings from different eras. I then experiment and see what can be combined with my style of painting. I have worked with different modes or mediums, the pencil, acrylic, water colors and oils to name a few. So my adventures are not necessarily to learn new styles but to see how I can improve my current style of painting.

Was there a particular moment where you could tell that your skills had just crossed over into being an exceptionally good painter instead of a pretty good painter? What did you do make that leap?

I don't think I can say I am an exceptional painter. What I can say that I have improved my skills over the years and I am ready to take on challenge. Just yesterday, I did a painting which was wet on wet and I know for a fact that it takes years of practice and skill to do such an art. And I leave it to my audience to decide if I am an exceptional painter. My paintings are on display at prominent institutions in Sri Lanka - Mount Lavinia Hotel is one place but I am in no way going to judge myself.

How do you push yourself? Do you set goals for yourself? And if so, what are the goals? Do you think setting goals is important for an artist in his/her artistic journey? If so why?

Yes, it is important to have goals in life in general. My research is mostly online and I learn of new techniques and the new equipment which is available abroad. I try to source as much as I can from Sri lanka but I think as artists, we can certainly create better art if we have access to new resources. As professionals, it is important to work towards improving our selves every day.

How is your experience working with Aartzy? Do you think it is a useful planform for artists?

Aartzy is a very good platform. In Sri Lanka, Artists have very little exposure. There is no organization and no place for us as Artists. We struggle to take our work to international markets. Most of my work is based on self-research. I believe there needs to be some authority which supports us who are professional artists. Aartzy has been that bridge which takes our work overseas and I am very grateful for Janaka and his team. I have also managed to sell my creations through this platform and I truly hope for a long and fruitful journey together with Aartzy.

Nilantha's entire collection can be seen at

by Manesha Peiris