HomeArticlesThe Vagabond Artist - Sisil Fernando

    The Vagabond Artist – Sisil Fernando

    Sisil Fernando is a Sri Lankan painter who is experimenting with new dimensions in the art of painting. He has completed his honours degree in visual art at the Colombo University of Fine Arts and is currently in the United Kingdom to complete his Master’s in Graphic Communication.

    Sisil’s paintings are a combination of the real world and the imaginary world. He is always trying to create a new reality out of existing realities. When painting, he is more inclined towards urban sketching. He often tries to paint urban buildings, vehicles, streetlights and people while travelling in unfamiliar streets. This is why he is known as the Vagabond Artist in Sri Lanka.

    How did you start your journey in the art?

    I have been interested in drawing since my childhood. I got that inspiration from my father. My father also had a habit of painting at home whenever he had free time. I used to draw with my father when I was little. Even during school, I practised painting as an aesthetic subject. After high school, I was able to get selected for the University of the Visual and Performing Arts. There, I completed my Visual Art Special Degree.

    You were first well-known for your work as a newspaper cartoonist and art director?

    Yes, I started drawing newspaper cartoons when I was in university. That was around 2008. I love political comedy cartoons. First, I got the opportunity to work as a freelance cartoonist for the Hirudina newspaper. After that, I got to work as a cartoonist on websites called, Sri Lanka News Wave and newspapers called Silumina and Ravaya. Meanwhile, I was able to win the 2019 Sri Lanka Cartoonist of the Year award.

    Advertising became my permanent job. I worked as an art director at TBWA, Saatchi & Saatchi, and JWT. But I always wanted to be an artist. So I started working on it alone.

    As a painter, which style of painting do you prefer?

    I prefer urban sketches. During my time in Sri Lanka, I travelled from place to place and started painting. It is very satisfying. I love to paint colonial-type buildings and street paintings. After coming to the UK, I felt the same feeling of happiness when a starving person gets delicious food. Because you can see a lot of colonial-type buildings and streets here. I like to paint people’s everyday lives, and I incorporate the colours and feelings I see in those lives into my paintings. They are like evidence left for the future about the present world.

    How do you go about creating your paintings? What tools and methods do you use? 

    When I sketch, I use a pen that I made out of wood. It’s a tool similar to a dip pen. To Sri Lanka, it was something rare. Many people were happy with such a method when I worked in the UK. I also use abandoned beverage cans to create pens in addition to wood. My painting technique is illustrator-inspired. I first sketch the outline in ink, and then I fill it in with watercolour.

    Are you hoping to make a name for yourself in the UK as an artist?

    Obviously,  As an artist, I’m trying to grow.  By taking part in cultural events here and linking art with the local culture, I’m trying to make a difference with art. It might be an art gallery or a business that has to do with art. I used to put pictures in an art gallery called Yellow. But now it is closed. Many people who came there appreciated my paintings because the technique I use is different. Some people bought my paintings.

    Additionally, after coming to the UK, I joined several events as a caricature artist and face painting artist. In that way, I have worked in London, Bristol, and Cardiff. I accept every opportunity and challenge in an optimistic way. This is really difficult. But I like to be stubborn about my dreams.

    What are your new plans for that dream?

    As I mentioned earlier, I made a travel video on YouTube called KOTO travelart in Sri Lanka. Its content was painting while travelling. I am now planning to add the Travel Art Experience in the UK to it. So far, I have finished working on two videos. Apart from that, I also hope to participate in events as an artist. Looking for new opportunities. Everything is a challenge when working in an unknown country with an unknown culture. I will not stop this journey until I achieve my goal.

    Join our WhatsApp Group to get the latest News Updates right into your device.

    What do you think?