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Calendar 2020

Narration of Art . . .  

Thousands of years ago, in the Paleolithic age, the ancient man was able to unleash his thoughts on a series of paintings. This amazing exercise caused an evolutionary change in world history. There are many milestones on this long journey. It is a process of time, struggle and discovery. It can be interpreted as one of the greatest expressions in human history. For thousands of years, people of various civilizations have been releasing their own emotions applying diverse art mediums and techniques. Within this journey, water-based paintings have been used by many societies in ancient times. Pharaohs painted their temples and tombs. Greeks painted pottery. Romans painted frescoes on the walls. The end of medieval religious painting saw the dawn of a new era.

The revival of the classical culture of Renaissance in Europe, revolutionized the history of art. During the Renaissance, artists sketched on paper using graphite pencils. Renaissance masters Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael used natural chalks for drawings that became the reason for the growth of pastels. Jan Van Eyck discovered the secret of oil painting. The end of the Renaissance, the Mannerist Art, broke the rules and created an illusion that transcends nature. A beautiful and exaggerated style was created by Baroque and Rococo Art with oil medium. Neo-classicism restored to the art of Greek-Roman grandeur. Romanticism gave victory to imagination and individualism. Realism was the mirror of the life of the working class and the peasantry. In these art trends, Rembrandt, Goya and Courbet used brushes as well as palette knives to create their paintings.

At the end of Neo-classicism, Romanticism, and Realism, art took a new turn. It was a transformational exercise. A group of controversial and independent artists who broke the traditions of the Academy were capturing the inevitable effects of the natural light of nature. They were the Impressionists who created a pictorial language in the material world using their own brush and canvas. There was a powerful art movement that advanced a mild revolt against the Impressionists. They were the Post-impressionists who transcended all the boundaries of art at the time. Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were the pioneers of this amazing artistic trend. Rough colours on flat surfaces and emotional distortions of forms were used in Fauvism and Expressionism.

Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism and Constructivism were the art movements that commented on modern life in the 19th century. Modernist sense began with the works of Cubist artists Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. They invented collage and mixed media. Dada and Surrealism were revolutionary art movements of the 20th century. Abstract Expressionism is a development of abstract art that began in New York in the 1940s and 1950s. Pop art is an art movement based on modern popular culture. It was born of consumerism. Pop artist Andy Warhol explored effects of acrylic, printmaking techniques and created new approaches to the medium.  Postmodernism is a trend that developed from the mid to the late 20th century. Within this historical narrative, humankind has used a variety of mediums ranging from animal blood on  cave-surfaces to modern digital technology for their visual expressions.

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Acrylic on Palette Knife

Acrylic is a type of paint found in the mid 20th century. Acrylic paints give artists an alternative to toxic, expensive, slow-drying oil paints, which are commonly applied to the base with a brush or other equipment. Applying acrylic with a palette knife gives a different result. The term knife is often used in a different way, particularly when describing the medium and surface technology with the painting of an artist's knife. Knives are made of plastic or wood and metal. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, paint knives and palette knives, though similar, are not the same. A palette knife is a long, straight blade or spatula used to mix paint. It is not meant to be used to paint on canvas. Painting knives usually have semi-flexible metal blades and wooden handles. Using a knife gives the painting a different result and texture. 




The Legend of Oil Painting

Oil painting is a medium consisting of pigments suspended in drying oils. Oil colours are made by mixing dry powder pigments with most commonly selected refined linseed oil. The quality and nature of this medium create different fusions of tones or colours and unique textural variations. Traditionally, paint layers are  transferred to the painting surface using brushes. Top-grade oil brushes are made in two types: red-sable weasel and bleached hog-bristles. The use of a painting knife or other version of the artist’s palette knife, is a convenient tool for applying oil colours on canvas. Generally, the canvas is made from linen or cotton fabric. By the end of the 15th century, canvas became the most popular basic material for oil medium. The origin of oil paints was discovered in Buddhist paintings in the Bamiyan Valley of Afghanistan, Central Asia, dating back to the 5th century.




Painting with Acrylic

Acrylic is a fast drying paint that serves as a medium for any type of pigment, and is a very versatile medium used in modern art. Acrylic is highly enhanced with pigment richness and paint quality and can be applied to both the transparent brightness of the dye and the stickiness of the oil paint. Acrylic has the unique quality to bond to many different surfaces and mediums. The artist can change the appearance, texture, flexibility and other characteristics of the acrylic paint surface. Acrylic can be used on a paper, canvas and a wide range of other materials. It is considered to be more approachable and tuned than other mediums and has been successfully adopted by many modern professional artists. Acrylic artist application training can cover a wide range of variations and contributes directly to the aesthetic value of art.




Watercolour is an extremely old painting tradition, also known as aquarelle, which dates back thousands of years. Watercolours are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution. The pigments are ordinarily transparent dry colouring materials. The medium is most commonly mixed with water to create translucent layers of colour on a surface of the paper. The rise of watercolour paintings as a serious artistic endeavour progressed over the years. To create watercolour paintings, many techniques were used by applying a series of monochrome washes one over the other. Watercolour is often combined with gouache or “body colour”, an opaque (non-transparent) water-based paint containing a white element derived from chalk, lead or zinc oxide. The technique of water-based paintings belongs to the history of many cultures. Historians believe that watercolour paintings first appeared in the Paleolithic cave paintings in Europe.

Art by: Ravindra Rathnasiri



Collage - New Medium in Modern Art

The French term collage was coined by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, who used collage techniques in their Cubist paintings. The collage method was effectively used in the works of artists of Dada and Surrealist movements. Collage is a technique of artistic production, made of many materials, but most are made of paper or wood, often featuring cut and pasted photos, painted forms or 3D objects. Continuing from modernist to contemporary art, the invention and innovative approach of collage attracted artists because of its aesthetic value and unique, cohesive process. An artistic technology of a collage is the production, printed or "invented" materials, such as bits of newspaper, fabric, wallpaper etc., on a board or canvas. Collage artists are pushing the boundaries and changing the demands of traditional art, creating new dimensions in the contemporary art world.




Watercolour - Unique Art Tradition

During the Renaissance period, watercolours gained a popularity as an advanced artistic medium. It was particularly common for book illustrations and book-guides to be made using watercolours during the 19th century. From the mid 18th to the mid 19th centuries, the watercolour tradition developed with different types of monochromatic landscapes. Since the 1800s, artists who followed New Romantic Watercolour Style often applied the paint on rough textured papers. Well-known English landscape painter, John Constable developed a unique watercolour style that blends with nature and created beautiful landscapes with a deep personal view of the countryside. William Turner, a London-born artist, was the most talented, successful and controversial landscape painter of the 19th century, who had been active in the academy throughout his life. Most of the time, English artists were credited with establishing watercolour as an independent, mature painting medium.



Pastel - Wide Range of Colours

Pastel is a medium of art that uses a wide range of colours. The name "pastel" comes from Pastelum, a Latin term used in the medieval period. Pastel originated in the 16th century in Northern Italy and became the largest popular medium by the 18th century. Pastel or crayon has a pale soft and delicate shade made of pure powder ground pigments bound with gums or resins. Once coated with colour on paper, they look soft, fresh and bright. Soft pastels are the most commonly used form of pastels. Crayon uses different methods with the uniqueness of the medium. Pastels were primarily used for portraiture and were later widely used by many modern master artists because of the wide range of bright colours available.





Pencil or Graphite Stick

The word is derived from the Latin term peniculus, which means brush. Pencils are made in the traditional form of wood-shaft and graphite sticks. Its lead is a form of carbon, called graphite. A pencil is a dry and preferred medium of many artists.  Pencil drawings are less than chalk, charcoal, pen and ink. However, graphite usage has increased steadily among artists, architects and designers. In the late 18th century, the ancestor of the modern pencil was built in the form of a natural graphite pole attached to a cylinder in a wooden hole. These high quality graphite pencils were widely used by 19th century artists and pencil drawing is widely used in the academic and basic arts. One of the most sensitive users of graphite pencils in the 19th century was the French artist Edgar Degas.




Perfection of Oil Painting

In Europe, the transitional era of oil painting began with the Renaissance in Northern Europe in the 15th century and then eventually became the principal medium of the Modern Art world. The oil painters apply colours to the raw canvas to produce shading, depth and surface variety by using the properties of oil paint. This concept is called alla prima. Including texture, colour mixing, brushstroke and application processes, there are different painting techniques used in oil painting depending on the era and style. Dutch artist Jan Van Eyck was the most credited artist in Northern Europe, who discoverd and learned the practice with oil medium. Jan Van Eyck experimented oil painting techniques for his wood panel works. During the Impressionist period, oil pigments were put into tubes and artists were free to move outdoors.




Chalk Pastel and Oil Pastel

Unlike other mediums, pastels are not mixed before being placed on paper. A visual blend of colours can be achieved by mixing closely with pastel paper. One of the great advantages of pastels over other mediums is the colour contrasts that can be achieved. Two of the most popular types of pastels are chalk and oil. Each one is made of the same pigment. The history of pastels dates back to the Renaissance. This medium is said to have originated in Northern Italy and has become one of the favourites of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. They used chalk for sketching. There were only a few shades of black, white and red at the time. In the 18th century, pastels gained considerable popularity, particularly in England and France. At this time, it was "fashionable" to paint with a combination of pastel and gouache paint.




Mixed Media - Breaking all Boundaries

Mixed media is an experiment with materials. This term is used for works of art made from more than one substance. Mixed media art is a mix of different creative mediums for making works of art that include two or more methods. A number of important developments in modern art have involved various combinations of materials, especially painting and sculpture. An open minded approach to the use of mix media to create art has enabled artists to create masterpieces. The use of mixed media for art emerged during 1910 -1912 with Picasso and Georges Braque using a variety of materials in their cubist collates. Assemblies and collages are two common examples of art using different media, including the use of materials such as fabric, paper, wood and found objects. Mixed media is about breaking the boundaries between different art forms.

Art by: Lakisha Fernando



Digital Painting

Digital painting is a continuously evolving art form in which the artist uses various painting techniques to create images directly on the computer by means of a graphics tablet with stylus and software. A graphics tablet allows the artist to work with precise hand movements simulating a real pen and drawing surface. Digital painting is distinct from computer-generated (CG) arts and digital manipulation of photographs, in the sense that the artist uses painting techniques and various applications to create the images "from scratch", which are original in construction and in content. The main difference between digital and traditional painting is the non-linear process. That is, an artist can often arrange his painting in layers that can be edited independently. Also, the ability to undo and redo the steps and the ability to adjust colour and lighting frees the artist from a linear process.



Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual or performing artifacts, expressing the artist's ideas or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. The mediums of art are combined with different and unique techniques to communicate people’s imaginations. 

Over the last 15 years, Sri Lanka Telecom brought the value, beauty, reflection, pride and immortality of Sri Lankan culture and nature to the public through the annual calendar, in different artistic ways. To continue this great effort, Sri Lanka Telecom proudly brings  “Narration of Art” as the calendar theme for the year 2020 to re-emphasize the value of art and to project historical background and different artistic methods to the future generations.

Resource Person:

Lanka Darshanie De Silva, Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts and Design and Performing Arts Unit,
Department of Fine Arts, Faculty of Humanities, University of Kelaniya.

Artists: Asitha Amarakoon, Chathuranga Gamage, Gayathri Adikari, Lakisha Fernando, Manohari Hewage,
Mewan Fonseka, Pulasthi Ediriweera, Ravindra Rathnasiri, Sandamali Kamalchandra

Designed & Published by: Corporate Branding Division, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC.