Friday, 15 December 2017

Step by step, A Landscape Charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

"To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong." Joseph Chilton Pearce

Zero Point
, ( 15,300 ft ) also known as Yume Samdong, is a small mountain village in North Sikkim. It is about 118 kms away from Lachung. Most tourists spend a night at Lachung before proceeding to Zero point in the morning. Zero point offers stunning views of snow clad mountains and soaring coniferous trees.

The charcoal drawing as seen below is inspired by my journey to Zero point. This is one of the scene that I captured in my memory. The mountains, the low lying clouds and the coniferous trees in the foreground, it was nothing short of a paradise. These are the moments in life when you truly are in awe of nature's beauty.

For this drawing, I decided to use "Willow charcoal" as a tool because it helps to create a great texture for the mountain slopes. Apart from willow charcoal, I have also used Camlin charcoal pencil and charcoal powder to create the other elements in the scene.

A charcoal drawing of a scene from Zero Point, North Sikkim. By Manju Panchal

At Zero Point
Charcoal drawing on Cartridge paper
Size 6"X 8" 

I decided to photograph the drawing in stages so that the viewers can see the simple techniques that I have followed in order to complete this artwork.

Step by step charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

Step 1. Created a faint outline and then used willow charcoal
for the background mountains.

Step by step charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

Step 2. Additional strokes using willow charcoal to block in
 the darker values in the foreground.

Step by step charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

Step 3. Lifted out clouds in the distance using kneaded eraser
and used charcoal pencil in the foreground to
to create the coniferous trees and foliage.

In the final steps I added details where ever necessary. In conclusion I have used more of willow charcoal in this artwork and the more I use it the more I discover the advantages of using this tool in combination with the others. Exploring each tool by using it frequently in the artworks, helps to get a better understanding about it. Once you get to know it, you can use it at the right place and create marks that make all the difference. 

VAAYU, the annual festival of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management studies ( NMIMS ) is being held from 13th to the 17th of December, 2017. It was an honor to be invited as a judge for their event in Fine Art Category, titled "La La Land" on the 13th of December. The competition was unique as it was based on music and art combined together. The students were also required to sculpt a candle. It was a very innovative theme and I enjoyed being there and it was a pleasure to judge the participants. 

If you wish to know more about the events being held in NMIMS, you can visit their Facebook page.

Thank you for visiting my blog and browsing through my artworks.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Portrait of a woman from North Sikkim

"I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart." Vincent Van Gogh

Thangu is a beautiful small village in North Sikkim and I had the opportunity to be there while we were on our way to Gurudongmar Lake. Most tourists stop here for breakfast before proceeding ahead. The lady who owned the restaurant had very pretty features and as an artist I felt the desire to ask her permission to photograph her so that I could create her portraits.

She spoke very little, was immersed in her thoughts and I was not sure if she was going to like the idea of photographing her. However to my surprise she happily gave her consent and I went clicking her photographs from different angles so as to get the best composition. It was a sunny morning, so I could capture the light and shadows on the face which makes it interesting to understand the face anatomy while drawing it.

It was such a pleasure to meet her and know her. Travelling to remote places like Thangu introduces us to people, their life and culture and additionally we get the opportunity to see parts of our own country which are so heavenly. I have posted a few photographs of Thangu in an earlier post. 

Charcoal portrait drawing on toned paper by Manju Panchal

Inner peace
Portrait drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper
size 6" X 8"

Of all the mediums I do, which one do I love doing the most?. I am asked this question very frequently by my friends and students. I find it very difficult to answer this because I truly and undoubtedly enjoy working with all the mediums. 

When I start off with charcoal, I get totally immersed in it with passion. It is the same with every medium that I am involved with. In conclusion, I feel one must do what one loves and let the passion flow on paper. Art should not have any limitations. End of the day it should make you happy.

If you wish to see all my paintings in gallery format, you can visit my INSTAGRAM account.
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Making a mark - Using willow charcoal

"If I create from the heart nearly everything works: if from the head almost nothing."
 Marc Chagall

I have a big data bank of photographs and study sketches as a reference but at times when I am looking out to create a particular subject I never seem to have one in your collection. After doing my last foggy landscape I got interested in creating yet another one. So I decided to browse through PIXABAY which has a big collection of photographs and they are free for commercial use.

Today's charcoal drawing is with reference to a foggy landscape photograph taken by Thomas B, Deutschland. I am grateful to him for having shared his works on Pixabay so that artists like me can use them as a study reference. This scene gave me the opportunity to work on the background trees and bushes with lost edges, fog in the distance, reflections in the water and branches drooping low in the foreground. I have used charcoal pencil and willow charcoal to create the dark leaves and branches which pushed the background in the distance creating depth.

A charcoal drawing is all about "Mark making techniques". We all hold the a pencil in a different way, creating strokes and marks that we feel is appropriate for a particular element. For instance, in charcoal drawing as below I have used "Willow charcoal" extensively. I used its tip to create the foliage, whereas for the background I used it sideways. I am creating marks to convey the shape, the rhythm and the energy in the elements in the scene. This is my way of working with the willow charcoal and being self taught, I do not follow any particular rule. Tomorrow I may change my style a bit if I find it better. This the journey of art and I am enjoying every moment of it.

A charcoal drawing of a foggy landscape on cartridge paper. By Manju Panchal

The Haze
Charcoal drawing on Cartridge paper
Size 6" X 8.5"

In my next charcoal drawing, I plan to use the General's Compressed charcoal which helps create a very dark black and is great to create textures while using sideways.

Thank you all visiting my blog and keep browsing for more charcoal works that I will be posting soon.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Fog at the distance - A charcoal drawing

"Without good drawing, the foundation of a painting will collapse." Ken Danby

 Today's post is a charcoal drawing of a landscape with fog in the distance and a fence running along in the foreground. The inspiration for this drawing has come from a photograph by Garry Hayes, a geologist who writes a very informative blog  I go through his blog frequently and enjoy reading the contents.

I have used Camlin pencil, charcoal powder and willow charcoal to create this artwork. Creating the fog using the different tools was an interesting experience. What I enjoy more than the drawing is the exploring and experimenting that enables me to discover new techniques to handle different elements in a landscape. For example in this painting I needed to create the grass and I wanted a little texture in the foreground. So I used the charcoal powder, the willow charcoal and after a little blending created the strokes of grass. It worked well.

Sharing a beautiful poem that I came across on "The Fog" by Carl Sandberg

The fog comes 
On little cat feet

It sits looking 
Over harbour and city
On silent haunches 
and then moves on

Carl Sandberg

A charcoal drawing of a foggy landscape by Manju Panchal

Fog at the distance 
Charcoal drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper 
Size 5” X 7”

My charcoal tool box is a collection of miscellaneous pencils of different brands which I have been purchasing for the last many years. When you enter an art store and come across something new and different you cannot resist buying it. Many a times it has happened that I have gone and purchased a pencil after reading a whole lot of reviews on the net and yet to my disappointment discovered that it is does not work for my kind of technique. Does this discourage me from buying more pencils? Not at all. I do that even today. It is a small investment compared to the happiness that I achieve by experimenting and exploring which in turn helps me to learn a little on a daily basis.

Charcoal tools used for charcoal drawing by Manju Panchal

Frequently used charcoal tools
in my charcoal tool box.

Thank you for browsing through my blog and if you wish to attend my Charcoal drawing workshop, you can register by sending a mail at

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Charcoal drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper

"Drawing is the artist's most direct and spontaneous expression. A species of writing; it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality." Edgar Degas

Beautiful quote by Edgar Degas. If you are into soft pastels, do browse through his works which are very very inspiring.

Charcoal medium continues to be one of my favorite till date. When I initially began working in charcoal, all I used was a charcoal pencil, charcoal powder and a normal eraser. Today I am experimenting and exploring with so many different tools and my technique has evolved.

With my Charcoal workshop coming up at Art Station, Andheri west, I am once again having the opportunity to experiment and explore by creating some new "study works" on different subjects, mainly landscapes. Apart from landscapes, I will be demonstrating a few "Still life drawings" too.

Today's post is a charcoal drawing on Canson Mi Teintes white paper. The scene is from Malshej Ghats, Maharashtra. The place is worth visiting in monsoon as the whole landscape transforms into something unimaginable. I got to see some stunning views of the mountains, dramatic cloudy skies, waterfalls and lush greenery all around.

Charcoal drawing of a landscape from Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Indian artist Manju Panchal

Monsoon at Malshej Ghats
Charcoal drawing on Canson MT paper
Size 5" X 7"

White Canson Mi Teintes paper is a recent introduction to my list of papers for charcoal drawing. I am loving its smooth textured surface which works well for charcoal medium. Moreover it is acid free and without optical brightness additives.

If you wish to know more about the "List of papers" that I use for my charcoal drawings, you can CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting my blog and browsing through my artworks.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Water colour painting on Arches cold pressed paper

"The only time I feel alive is when I'm painting." Vincent Van Gogh

I am sure every artist will agree with the above quote. If you are passionate about painting, you will realize what it is like to paint a little everyday. It brings a lot of joy and end of the day when you look at your work, no matter how small or big, it feels absolutely great. Then you gear up for yet another day of painting and begin your plans as to what to create next?

Pangong Lake, also known as Pangong Tso is situated in the Himalayas, at 14,270 ft above sea level. It is about four to five hours journey from Leh. This stunning lake which keeps changing its colours is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. I am yet to go there but am so fascinated with this heavenly place that when friends send me photographs, I cannot resist painting it. 

My today's painting is with reference to a photograph sent by a student and I am grateful to her for the same. I have used Arches Cold pressed paper and a combination of both Winsor and Newton and Camlin water colour tubes. I am beginning to love this paper as it stays wet for long and that enables me to add colours without the fear of having hard edges. 

A water colour painting of Pangong Lake by Manju Panchal

Water colour painting on Arches CP paper
Size 6.5"X 8.5"

If you have been regularly browsing through my blog you will know that I have still not zeroed in on the right paper for my water colour artworks. I have definitely shortlisted a few good ones and Arches is one of them. Selection of a paper is a very personal choice for every artist. Most papers are good but its just that each one of us find our comfort level in some particular brand.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am presently working on a series of few charcoal landscapes as my one day "Charcoal drawing workshop" is coming up soon at Art Station, Andheri west. Will post them soon. If you are interested in attending you can drop me a mail at

Thank you for browsing through my artworks.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Portrait study work on Canson Mi Teintes paper

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." 

Today I am posting a small quick "Portrait study" of a pretty woman I met at Thangu, where we halted to have breakfast before moving towards Gurudongmar Lake. She was friendly with a pleasant personality. I interacted with her and took her photographs from different angles. Before starting her front face profile I decided to do a quick study of the side face using minimum brush strokes.

For my charcoal and white pencil portraits I have more or less shortlisted two papers. The Strathmore gray toned paper and Canson MT series. For my present work I have used Canson paper. Both these papers are available on

Portrait study of a woman from Thangu, North Sikkim, on Canson Mi Teintes paper

Portrait study of a woman from Thangu, North Sikkim
on Canson Mi Teintes paper
Size 5" X 7"

This portrait study was more about getting to know her features and I have not spent much time getting into the details. I am almost done with another of her portraits and shall be posting it soon.

Presently I am also busy doing some charcoal landscape works in preparation for my upcoming one day Charcoal drawing and sketching workshop on the 17th of December at Art Station, Andheri west.

Thank you for browsing through my artworks.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Travel photography - Thangu, North Sikkim

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." Albert Einstein

Nature inspires me to paint. When I travel, it is not always possible to create study works or quick sketches as we are constantly on the move. Therefore I photograph the scenes which appeal to me, so that I can refer to it later some day and create beautiful memories by painting them in different mediums. I try to get the best composition possible but if not then I edit the photographs just before I begin my artwork. 

Posted below are a few photographs which we clicked while we were at Thangu. Thangu is a small beautiful village which is about two hours drive from Lachen in North Sikkim.It is situated at a n altitude of 13,500 ft above sea level and most tourists halt here for breakfast and to get acclimatized to the change of altitude before proceeding to Gurudongmar Lake.  From here on to Gurudongmar Lake the altitude increases to 17,800 ft in a short span of three hours. The roads are bad but the beauty of the landscape hypnotizes you. I would love to visit North Sikkim yet again.

Photograph taken at Thangu, North Sikkim

At Thangu, North Sikkim
The road further leads to Gurudongmar Lake

Photograph taken at Thangu, North Sikkim by Manju Panchal

The landscape at Thangu, North Sikkim

Photograph taken at Thangu, North Sikkim by Manju Panchal

A cloudy sky at Thangu, North Sikkim

Local women at Thangu, North Sikkim

Local women basking in the sun

My database of photographs from different places is growing and I am having fun painting these beautiful places and people. I have not had the opportunity to paint a landscape from Thangu. However I am almost done with a portrait of the woman as above with the scarf. I photographed her from different angles, had a small chat with her and learnt about her life in general. Time was short and it was pleasure to interact with her.

Have you been to North Sikkim? If yes I would love to hear from you and do leave in your comments. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Trying out "Cloudy sky" in water colour medium

"Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbour." Giotto di Bondone

Some months back a friend of mine visited Maldives for a holiday and sent me a few photographs from her visit. The place is beautiful with stunning beaches and I have already painted one scene earlier. My today's water colour painting is yet another scene from Maldives and I selected this scene in order to get a better understanding of painting clouds, its shapes and shadows.

As I wanted the sky to be the main focus of the painting, I avoided painting too many boats in the foreground, keeping just two boats at the distance on the left. For this painting I have used a very limited palette of colours such as Ultramarine blue, Cerulean blue, Crimson, Indian red and Burnt Sienna.

A water colour painting of a cloudy sky at Maldives on hand made paper

Water colour study of Cloudy sky
on hand made paper.
Size 5"X 7"

When it comes to water colour medium I am still on the experimental stage and am busy doing the "Seascapes" and "Mountainscapes". It is a challenging medium and there is so much more to learn, be it colour mixing or the different techniques like wet in wet, wet on dry etc. I believe in taking it slow, one step at a time. I am keen on doing forests too but have not got started with that subject as yet but plan to do so very soon.

Thank you for visiting my blog and browsing through my artworks.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Working on an unfinished portrait drawing

"I invent nothing. I rediscover." Auguste Rodin

Hand made paper is not my my preferred choice of toned paper for portrait drawing. The two papers that I would love to use today are "Canson Mi Teintes" and "Strathmore toned paper". However the portrait drawing that I am posting today is a work that I started quite some time back on hand made paper and for some reason it was left a little incomplete. Therefore I spent some time working on it and finally completed it.

I do not have much of this hand made paper ( 300gsm ) left with me and after working with Strathmore and Canson paper I realised that the texture and quality of the paper matters a lot when it comes to drawing and sketching. I have also ordered a new Strathmore book of Toned warm tan papers and would be using one of the sheets soon.

Portrait drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper

A portrait study
Charcoal and white pastel pencil drawing on hand made paper
Size 5"X 7"

During my earlier years of drawing I exclusively worked with charcoal on white paper. Its much later that I discovered the beauty of working on toned paper. So these days I try out both the options ie charcoal on white paper as well as toned paper. 

Thank you for visiting my blog and to browse through my works in Gallery format you can visit my INSTAGRAM page.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Patong beach, Phuket

"The flow of water and paint can be uncontrollable and crazy, but it is also freedom, an escape, a therapy, joy, and, oh yes, very sensuous!" Angela Lynch

The above quote says it all. Water colour medium is challenging and the outcome so unpredictable. Yet you cannot help but fall in love with it.

Today's water colour painting is a scene from Patong beach, Phuket. This beach was right across our hotel and at around ten in the morning, the water level had receded a bit, which made the distant rocks and trees clearly visible. I have used a mix of Camlin and Winsor and Newton paints to create this artwork.

An original water colour painting of Patong beach, at Phuket on Fabriano water colour paper. By Manju Panchal

At Patong beach, Phuket
A water colour painting on Fabriano paper
Size 7" X 9"

Painting a beach scene such as above gives me the opportunity to try out many different elements such as the water, the sky, the rocks, the foliage and reflections. 

Thank you for visiting my blog and browsing through my paintings.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Sunset at the beach - A watercolour painting

"Watercolour is probably the most satisfying of all mediums. Although difficult in the beginning, after practice its mysteries will unfold, providing the utmost pleasure for the dedicated." Robert Lovett

Painting a sunset scene has been on my mind since long, therefore I decided to create one on handmade paper. I chose handmade paper since it stays wet for long and I can keep dropping in colours which blend smoothly into the background. If the paper does not have water holding capacity then I it starts drying up quickly and that leads to some unwanted hard edges.

The sky in this particular painting has a mix of warm and cool colours, so I mixed up enough colour in the palette before beginning the painting. In water colour painting, I have realised that I need to have a definite plan in my head regarding the steps that I am going to follow or else the painting gets ruined. For the sea weeds I picked up dry paint from the palette and used my coarse flat brush sideways and to create the tall grass blades I have made use of a rigger brush. It was fun creating this work using Camlin Artists water colour tubes.

A water colour painting of sunset at the beach. By Manju Panchal

Sunset at the beach
Created on handmade paper
Size 5"X 7"

Hand made paper is great, however it is important to know if it is acid free or else over a period of years the paper colour turns a pale yellow. I have some old papers in my collection and since they are not acid free I use them for my study works. The paper that I have used for my above work seems to be acid free and I have purchased it from Himalaya Stationery at Fort.

To know more about my upcoming Art Workshops CLICK HERE and thank you for visiting my BLOG.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Pastel painting on Fabriano Tiziano paper

"Sometimes you got to create what you want to be a part of." Geri Weitzman

The above quote speaks my heart. I stay in a crowded metro city in India and long to be amidst nature. Travelling takes me to places where nature is in its pristine form. Being in nature helps me relate to it better and I feel so connected with the surroundings.

The soft pastel painting as below is a scene that I came across while we were climbing uphill on the mountain slopes at Hee Bermiok in order to get a better view of the snow covered Kanchenjunga mountains. The dense greenery around kept the muddy pathway in shadows. It was a cold and breezy day and the I was attracted to the distant light in the composition. It seemed to add a little warmth in the atmosphere.

A soft pastel painting of a landscape as seen at West Sikkim.A painting by Manju Panchal

Distant light
A soft pastel painting on Fabriano Tiziano paper.
Size 6.5" X 8.5"

For most of my pastel works I use the Mungyo pastels in the beginning to block in the major shapes and later I use the Koh-I-Noor and Gallery pastels. During my final touch up I make use of my recently purchased Sennelier pastels.  

I have selected a black coloured Fabriano Tiziano paper for my present painting. The colours come out very vibrant on a dark coloured paper, however the disadvantage is that it gets difficult to cover up the black at areas where you want subtle shades. Too much smudging dulls the colours. Therefore for my next work I have decided to go with the mid tone paper. CLICK HERE , if you wish to know about the papers I use for my soft pastel paintings.

Thanks for visiting my blog and browsing through my artworks. My blog has crossed 75,000 page views and I am grateful to all the people who have been constantly supporting me in my art journey. It encourages and motivates me to continue painting and to share my ideas, thoughts and techniques with everyone.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Johnathan Harris - An artist from USA

"Colors speak all languages." Joseph Addison

My today's post is about an artist from USA, Johnathan Harris. I recently came across his stunning vibrant artworks in INSTAGRAM as well as FINE ART AMERICA. The landscape paintings by Johnathan Harris are visually stunning, unique and very inspiring. He has his unique original style and I am fascinated by his landscape interpretations. His color palette has a great appeal and you get naturally drawn towards all his works.

In his Artist's statement Johnathan Harris says" Creating artwork is my passion, a refuge from the modern world, a time for me to reflect and express; an absolute necessity for me to feel complete. I try to give the viewer a window into a perception of a reality in which I find solace. I prefer to focus on Southwestern landscapes and European landscapes not only for the naturally beautiful compositions, the colors and endless inspiration but also because of the effect of the seasonal changes and variations due to light in those magical parts of the world."
( COURTESY: Johnathan Harris )

Posted below are some of the artworks by Johnathan Harris which are my personal favorites and to view all his works you can visit his website 

A painting by Johnathan Harris

A landscape painting by Johnathan Harris, an artist from Canada

A landscape painting by Johnathan Harris, an artist from Canada

A landscape painting by Johnathan Harris, an artist from Canada

A landscape painting by Johnathan Harris, an artist from Canada

A landscape painting by Johnathan Harris, an artist from Canada

A landscape painting by Johnathan Harris, an artist from Canada

A landscape painting by Johnathan Harris, an artist from Canada

Through his landscape paintings, Johnathan says, he has tried to capture the sensations and revelations that he experiences when he is in the in the midst of nature. His works are greatly influenced by his love for nature.

I am grateful today for being able to do what I love doing most. ie "Drawing and Painting". I am also grateful to interact with other artists around the world whose works inspire and motivate me to continue my passion. Having a blog is helping me to share the works of artists whose works I admire and I am looking forward to creating more of such posts.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you too have enjoyed the beautiful works by Johnathan Harris.