Erandathie has a heart for Art

By Darshani Abeyrathna

You should not waste your time thinking about what you do not have, especially during the pandemic situation. Almost always you can survive without them: you have made it this far. Amidst all struggles you have come this far. Take a bow for all the things that you have done. Everything is going to be okay and will work out just fine. Even if you cannot find the answers for your burning problems right now, just trust that everything is going to unfold for the best. Always keep in mind that life is happening for you, not to you .You will get through this and you will be all okay. Live your life on your own terms .

Erandathie went on to say-

My ultimate purpose is to console people who are suffering, through my art”. Art has been the best way to calm myself during chaotic times like these. Liyapatha my adult coloring book is undoubtedly therapeutic, soothing and stress-relieving.

In an exclusive interview with Colombo Gazette multi-talented Erandathie Damunupola also had the following to say:

Who are you and what do you do?

I am an artist dabbling in many creative fields including drawing, painting , writing poetry , writing and illustrating children’s stories etc . By profession I am a lecturer (in English) at the University of Colombo.  I am also a mother of three who is always looking for ways to inspire children to be more creative.  My husband is the biggest support system in my life .According to my friends I am a suitcase full of little bits of everything.

Why do you do what you do?

For me I would say life is enhanced and enriched by art. This past year we had more time on our hands and I think I dabbled in all forms of creative expression just to while away the time. I had time to explore with new ideas and concepts and that is how this book was born. I started drawing these designs initially as a de-stressing activity, a pastime. I did it while sitting with my kids who were doing their online lessons. When the papers started piling up I thought I should make better use of these beautiful line drawings. And so the idea of printing a colouring book- to help relive other people’s stress -was born.

Tell me a little bit about your book.

Liyapatha is an adult colouring book, with 30, A4 size pages for colouring.

All of the designs are hand drawn by me and based on ancient Sinhala motifs. Traditional Sri Lankan designs are grouped as floral designs, geometric designs, and animal designs. I have incorporated all three and Sinhala letter designs as well.

The decorative leaf used in traditional Sri Lankan designs is called the Liyapatha. In the hands of the skilled artist this basic motif will grow into more intricate patterns like Liyawela – a leafy creeper. I have used these beautiful designs with the hope of taking them to a wider audience that had no access to them.  I hope this book will help many people in many different and beneficial ways.

What memorable responses have you had to your book?

I got a lot of positive feedback for Liyapatha. I have used the traditional Sri Lankan designs in this book without distortion. So the book has an educational value for children studying art. It is the first of its kind…a colouring book with Sri Lankan motifs. There was a lot of appreciation from teachers and artists because I have brought these lost designs back into the hands of the younger generation in an age appropriate way. In a way they can interact with and learn from.

What’s your background?

I studied at Methodist College Colombo 3. I have a Masters degree in English literature. In terms of Art I studied life drawing and painting with Mrs.Nadine David. She was a wonderful teacher who encourages me on even today and I will be eternally grateful to my teacher for making me who I am today.It was her guidance which helped me to come this far.

What role does the artist have in society?

An artist has the ability to enrich peoples lives. When the public can relate to your art ,be it a painting, a poem or even an advertisement you are connecting with another through your work and that is what keeps me alive and going.

What has been a seminal experience? 

Studying art under Nadine David has been the seminal experience I have had.She herself was a student of David Pynter. She taught me how to work on a painting with patience and love. How to do your reference and your prep work.   I got to know the whole process of making art like the old masters.

How has your practice changed over time? 

The pandemic made me think of ways in which I could make my art accessible and affordable to people. Galleries had online tours and exhibitions, art was taught on zoom and everybody was glued to their screens. So I did this book to help reduce screen time among the young and the old. I gave coloring books to my own children when they got restless. I wanted the youngsters and the elderly people to engage in a pleasurable and creative activity. Coloring is actually therapeutic and is even recommended for people with anxiety and depression.

What work do you most enjoy doing?

I really love painting flowers and leaves in all their varied colours and forms. This may be because I am a nature lover and most of my paintings are based on natural surroundings.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

My father once gave me a black carbon pen and told me to use it to draw pictures and  send them to the childrens’ page in the newspaper. Back then news papers published only black and white drawings!

What’s your favourite artwork?

I  like a wide variety of art but  Van Gogh’s work especially, for the way he uses bright colour and the texture that he brings out. My biggest dream is to visit Van Gogh’s museum one day when covid 19 says good bye to the world.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

There was this majestic tree on Duplication road which caught my attention as it stood amidst the concrete jungle. Although many branches were chopped off it was fighting for survival amidst the apartment buildings. A few months later I noticed there was no tree, the scorching heat and glare was unbearable as I walked along the pavement. This experience made me think about and observe the urban greens more closely. I was inspired to paint this tree and then put a whole exhibition together in 2019 called Urban Greens.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

I am passionate about teaching art, and teaching English language and literature.

What food, drink, song inspires you?

Music inspires me in many ways I would say .I listen to music as I paint. Even as a child I used to study with the radio on.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

I think loneliness works well for an artist. I love to be alone, undisturbed while I work and paint .

What do you dislike about the art world?

Commercialization. People doing it for the money, copying other works of art and losing their own Individuality and creativity.

What do you dislike about your work?

Nothing to be honest,but there is always room for improvement.

What do you like about your work?

It can make someone happy, add beauty to someone’s home/life.

Should art be funded?

Yes. Then artists are not restricted by limited resources. Good quality art materials are expensive, using substitutes or doing without them affects the quality and finish of the final piece

What role does arts funding have?

It can increase the quality of the work.

What makes you angry? 

Deception I would say.

What research do you do?

I always look at artwork done by modern and contemporary artists around the world.

I look at their techniques.  It is much easier to access these now because all the major galleries have gone online, we have access through social media.

Name something you love, and why?

Apart from drawing and painting I  love reading and creative writing. I also like growing plants and watching a flower bloom in a plant I nurtured.

What is your dream project?

To have my own art studio on top of a hill is one of many dreams I have to pursue, overlooking beautiful surroundings. A place where anyone can come and paint

Favourite or most inspirational place?

The beach is my most inspirational place to be no matter what.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t worry about what other people say, just work towards your own dreams.

What wouldn’t you do without?

Paper, blank white paper!

Where can we buy your colouring book Liyapatha’?

From Vijitha Yapa and MD Gunasena book shops, Artworld  Dehiwala, Who We Are – on line store

You can contact the artist –

or connect through the facebook page Elegant Impressions