Let the warm breezes of the Indian Ocean caress you as the scent of exotic spices fill the air; leave behind your misconceptions along with dark, damp winter days and allow yourself to be enveloped by the mysterious, exotic beauty of this lush emerald island gem...
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!