Voted ‘world’s smiliest country’ in a recent poll, this sun-drenched, verdant land, steeped in natural beauty, culture and history yet with less of the ‘hassle’ often associated with parts of Asia, delivers to the discerning traveller on all levels. Consistently in the top 10 travellers’ favourite islands and recovering well, with boundless energy and optimism, from the recent civil war and less recent but equally devastating tsunami of 2004, the people will melt your heart with their resilience in the face of adversity and their matchless welcome on your painting/sketching holidays in Sri Lanka.
Although visibly bustling and vibrant in an Asian way, many parts of the country remain extremely unspoilt and tranquil, breathtakingly beautiful and surprisingly accessible. While undisputedly a long flight from Europe, most who make the journey are enchanted from the minute they step off the plane. Exotic with a capital E, Sri Lanka, when known as Ceylon, was a former British colony and as such can feel strangely familiar to a visitor from the UK. The country is very well-used to welcoming tourists and delights in seeing the Brits returning, now as their guests. In general they also appreciate art and have a long history of painting in their culture, much of it intertwined with religion while modern landscape painters sometimes display their canvasses on the beach.
Closing your eyes and imagining this country will probably conjure up images of docile elephants, elaborately decorated with gold and brightly coloured fabrics; swaying palms, crashing surf and warm seas; pretty tea plantations and hot, fiery curries. Sri Lanka is all this, and so much more….. and much of it eminently sketchable. Within this small island lies much variety in terms of scenery and climate as well as cultural and religious diversity. Ancient and modern Buddhist, Hindu and even Christian monuments can be found, along with world-class national parks which are home to populations of wild elephant, leopards, crocodiles and various monkeys along with a striking number of birds. While we are unlikely to find an opportunity to sketch these desirable yet elusive subjects, the knowledge of their presence helps complete the vivid pictorial atmosphere and we will not be short of inspiration during our time here.
From the hot, sultry south where mile after mile of deserted, coconut-fringed, golden sands demand to be strolled upon to the cooler, misty green highlands complete with tumbling waterfalls; from colourful fishing boats to fascinating temples, the only dilemma is how to squeeze it all into one visit. Be warned… Sri Lanka’s charms are addictive and your first visit may well not be your last!
- Next Trip(s): January 2020, November 2020 (please enquire for exact dates)
- Duration: 10 nights from Colombo
- Principle Medium: Inks
- Price: £1395 (Discount if sharing a double room: £250 per person)
From picture-postcard beaches to impressive waterfalls, tea plantations to virgin jungle. Gardens filled with bright tropical flowers and abundant birdlife; mysterious temples, sweeping mountain vistas and a culture which will surprise and delight you. There is so much diversity in this fascinating country and size can be deceptive; it’s impossible to see it all in one short trip. As we are primarily sketching the landscape and don’t wish to spend all our time inside a vehicle, we’ll take roads less travelled as we explore one small corner of this spectacular island, simply bursting at the seams with living history, warmth and exotic beauty.
Travelling by comfortable, air-conditioned minivan with an expert local driver we will cover a variety of scenery taking in some little-known areas as well as some must-sees. You will truly feel as if you’ve seen parts of rural Sri Lanka that most tourists don’t …and the sketching possibilities are superb.
Sun-drenched beaches of the South and a rocky island temple; cool highland landscapes; Sinharaja rainforest; whale watching in Mirissa and Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall.
Please ask for a more detailed itinerary for this journey.
Day of arrival:
Airport transfer Colombo to Bentota f you are taking the recommended flight from the UK or a flight landing at a similar time (or if already in the country)
- Day 2: In Bentota sketching on the beach and a short boat ride to pretty Temple Island
- Day 3: Day 3: Drive away from the coast towards the hill country and Ratnapura along small rural roads. Sketching at lovely Bopath Ella waterfall
- Day 4: Drive into heart of the tea country with wonderful views
- Day 5: An all-day visit to Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall, reached through cool pine forest, with a possibility to swim. A relaxing day in beautiful surroundings with picnic lunch
- Day 6: Sunrise at ‘Lipton’s Seat’, visit a tea factory then drive towards Sinharaja rainforest reserve
- Day 7: Optional half day escorted walk into the jungle , and exploring the peace, calm and greenery of the area around our comfortable lodge
- Day 8: A relaxing day in Mirissa with its beautiful beach; good swimming as well as sketching!
- Day 9: An early start for optional whale watching. Drive to picturesque fort town of Galle for lunch and afternoon sketching
- Day 10: Head back to Bentota, visit a turtle conservation project. Arrive in the afternoon, where we’ll look over all the work we’ve done and how our sketchbooks have progressed. End the trip with a well-earned beachside drink.
The price for this trip includes:
Airport transfer for those on recommended flights; Colombo pickup for those already in the country. All transport while on tour; all accommodation; all breakfasts and dinners (except days 8 & 10); 3 lunches; Art Pack and expert tuition/guidance with sketching each day.
The price for this trip does NOT include:
International flights; Transport to Bentota if on alternative flights; 2 dinners; 6 lunches; additional snacks; soft and alcoholic drinks; bottled water; entrance fees to tea factory, gem mine, turtle project etc and any tips you might like to leave. (Budget around £5 – £10 per day per person to cover all the above.)
Optional excursions such as whale watching (approx £20) and Sinharaja forest trek/park fee (approx £50) are not compulsory but highly recommended for the more adventurous.
Please note that due to the size of the hotel we use this trip must be booked before the end of July and numbers are strictly limited.
- Next Trip(s): December 2019, November 2020 (please enquire for exact dates)
- Duration: 7 nights from Colombo
- Principle medium: Watercolours
- Price: £1120 (Discount if travelling together and sharing a room: £240; or £340 if a non-painting partner)
Feel all your cares melt away as the warmth of the tropical sun and the timeless calm of rural Sri Lanka wash over you on this supremely relaxing Sketching Break.
Staying in a fabulous small, boutique hotel on a quiet, green lane surrounded by trees, fields, flowers, birds and butterflies you will feel so cosseted and comfortable you won’t want to go anywhere. There’s even a pool! Yet this tiny corner of Paradise hides many scenic gems. On this holiday we don’t have to travel far to find a multitude of sketching possibilities, some virtually on our doorstep. Each day will bring something different, surprising and beautiful, yet with so little effort on your part you can concentrate entirely on your sketching as we become intimately acquainted with our immediate surroundings.
Ideal for those who want to get settled in one place, yet still see – and paint – the best of the area, with as much or as little instruction and guidance as you need. As usual I will set special ‘tasks’ to challenge your sketching and on this holiday there will be plenty of opportunity to produce some more ‘finished’ paintings as well.
Relaxing in comfort under the tropical sun; coastal train ride to UNESCO-listed Galle; picture-perfect beaches; Beruwela lighthouse and the slow pace of rural Sri Lanka
A more detailed day by day itinerary is available, just ask.
- Day 1: Transfer from airport to your hotel near Bentota, approximately 3 hours away.
- Day 2: Breaking ourselves in gently, we’ll start our sketchbooks off on the nearby beach and enjoy a delicious fish lunch.
- Day 3: Quiet rural lanes, boats on the riverbank and a temple lake filled with waterlillies.
- Day 4: Stunning, deserted Kosgoda beaches and a turtle conservation project
- Day 5: (Optional) entertaining train ride to Galle for sketching and sightseeing. Alternatively a chance to explore the Bentota river
- Day 6: Short boat ride to Beruwela lighthouse for spectacular views
- Day 7: Pretty ‘Temple Island’ and time to prefect our beach-painting skills. Final evening appraisal and farewell drink.
- Day 8: Transfer back to Colombo for your flight or onward travel arrangements.
The price for this holiday includes:
Transport from airport/Colombo to Bentota hotel and back; transport (by car, train and boat)for included excursions as per itinerary; all accommodation and meals except 3 lunches and 1 dinner as per itinerary; Art Pack and expert tuition/guidance with organised sketching and painting each day.
The price does NOT include:
International flights and transport from/to other areas of Sri Lanka; 3 lunches and 1 dinner as per itinerary; extra snacks, soft and alcoholic drinks and bottled water; optional excursions (eg Bentota river trip), tuktuk transport to beach or town as and when required outside of itinerary; tips and souvenirs. Budget around £10-£15 per day per person to cover these expenses while in resort (excluding souvenirs ), or a little more if you plan to drink a lot of expensive cocktails and splurge on fancy restaurants.
With the huge amount of subject matter and relatively short space of time, we will want to fill those pages with bright, mouthwatering images. That does not mean that sketching every day is compulsory. Those wishing to simply relax and soak up the atmosphere, hang out on the beach, visit a temple or do a little swimming are always welcome to do so, where location allows.
On days when we are not changing location, you will also have the opportunity to stay around the hotel, sketching or otherwise, perhaps working up earlier drawings into more finished pieces. When we are moving from one place to another, we either aim to arrive at our new destination by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon for sketching and exploring, or we will stop at a good spot en route so that there will be no day without some opportunity to sketch.
The Journeys are structured to give at least a half day’s painting in every main location, On stay-put days and on Breaks, we will take breakfast at around 8.30am, then set off for the day, perhaps armed with a packed lunch, to a nearby sketching spot. You may well feel like resting during the hottest part of the day. Everywhere we sketch in the hot parts of Sri Lanka will have available shade, so it will be possible to simply close your eyes and have a snooze if you feel one coming on!
Most days, you will be given a special “task“ to experiment with, which is designed to stimulate and challenge you as an artist. It might be trying a new medium for you, or looking at the landscape in a new way. You may spend as much or as little time on this as you like, but it may give you inspiration if you are a little overwhelmed by being faced with a truly different type of subject, and it can be your starting point for the day.
We can look at the results together during the evening’s appraisal; you may be surprised!
Usually we will paint until late afternoon, especially if we have had a long siesta, when we return to our hotel to relax, eat and get together for our nightly appraisal. The rest of the evening is yours to do as you choose, but mostly expect this to be wiggling your toes in the sand, listening to the sound of the waves, perhaps clutching a Lion beer. We pick our hotels for their location, peace and tranquility so nightlife is not a feature of the holidays. In coastal Sri Lanka, however, partying does take place and you will probably have the chance to participate, should you wish to.
Without beating around the bush, Sri Lanka is a HOT destination, in every sense of the word. The holidays here are for those who can tolerate a hot and humid climate. The rewards are immeasurable; in fact the sunny weather is reward itself for those who enjoy it. But the honest truth is, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of Sri Lanka.
Landing for the first time in an Asian country can be a full-blown assault on the senses and somewhat bewildering after a long, tiring flight. But for those eager for new experiences and adventures who are culturally open, tolerant and patient, it will without a doubt be intoxicating and life-enriching. Both Sri Lankan trips try to limit the impact of this culture-shock and we seek out safe, tranquil havens for our sketching. In addition, the painting itself need not be overly challenging.
The hotels are generally of a pretty good standard and they take customer service seriously. While we don’t go 5 star, our hotels have been chosen for comfort, cleanliness, location and friendliness as well as authenticity. While it may not be the Ritz, you will not be roughing it.
The ‘hassle’ you may expect to receive in such a destination will be largely absent. Curiosity and friendly approaches will probably not be. Sri Lankan culture is gentle and polite, but as a tourist you represent an irresistible opportunity, and despite the colonial history (or perhaps because of it), modern Westerners are sometimes misinterpreted. Clear, respectful firmness usually nips any misunderstandings in the bud and most locals would be mortified if they thought they had caused offence. Likewise, we should be ready to respect their cultural traditions.
These trips are not suitable for those who can’t walk very far. Most of the sketching spots do not entail much walking but they do involve some, which is unavoidable.
The hotel we use on the Sketching Break is idyllically located on a quiet rural lane a good 10 minutes walk to the main road and beach. Sometimes we may have transport, often not. The way to the beach is glorious, flat and full of birdlife, and hot.
In short, most people adore Sri Lanka and feel extremely comfortable here. If you are of a timid disposition or have never been outside Europe before, you might like to contact me for further advice (as well as the ‘Useful Information’ factsheet). If you are healthy, adaptable and easy-going I will certainly encourage you to come!
You may reserve a place on any trip with payment of a 10% deposit All the trips will run subject to the minimum number of participants being reached 6 weeks prior to departure. In the event of insufficient or excess bookings, you will be offered an alternative holiday or a later departure. If this is not suitable your deposit will be refunded. Anyone wishing to join a scheduled trip departing within 6 weeks may do so, subject to availability.
- Firstly, please use the contact form to send an e-mail to me, and let me know which trip you are interested in. If you are unsure which will suit you best, I will contact you so that we can go through the options.
- When you are ready to make your booking, send me an e-mail. I will confirm exact joining dates, advise on recommended flights (if relevant) and give you payment details so that you can pay your deposit.
- I will confirm your booking and your place on your chosen programme, on receipt of:
The full name, address and phone number of all members of your party
A 10% non-refundable deposit made by direct bank-to-bank transfer, or (cleared) cheque paid into my UK bank account (NOT posted as I may not be in the country)
It would also be helpful to include a short summary of your painting experience to date.
- I will send you essential information about how to join the group if you are not being met at the airport; advice on choosing flights (if applicable) and what you need to bring with you on your holiday, as well as a more detailed daily itinerary and your Useful Information fact-sheet for the country you will be visiting, if you have not already requested these.
- The balance of your payment is due in British pounds, 2 weeks before the commencement of your Sketching Holiday. You may make a bank transfer (recommended), or if you prefer to pay by cheque (in pounds sterling), this must be presented and cleared in my account well before the commencement of the holiday.
Non-UK residents may choose to pay in cash on arrival at the destination but please speak to me about this first.
By making your booking you are agreeing to our ‘Terms and Conditions’, which can be found below.
Phone: 00 44 (0)798 281 2842 (active only when I am in the UK).
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