Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Painting under progress - Niagara Falls in charcoal

I have been working on a charcoal painting of NIAGARA FALLS since a long time and it is nearing completion. The paper used for this work is FAVINI paper and is sized 16" X 16". This painting has been a great learning experience for me and I am eagerly waiting to complete it and frame it. As the year 2014 comes to an end this is probably one of my first resolutions of the year ie to focus and complete a pending project.

Niagara Falls
Work in Progress
Charcoal painting on Favini Paper

When I am working on my charcoal paintings, it normally takes much longer time to complete than my works in other mediums. Moreover it is one of my favourite mediums.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Soft pastel painting of a Landscape at Karnala Bird Sanctuary

Some time back I created a quick charcoal study of Karnala Bird Sancturary landscape using willow charcoal. Referring to the same photograph I decided to do a soft pastel painting. The light piercing through the bushes and the shadow of the trees cast on the road tempted me to do it in colours.

I have used Fabriano Tiziano black paper which comes in a pad of 24 sheets. Flipkart sells these so it can be purchased online.My Fabriano pad has sheets sized 12" X 16". Presently for a few works I will be using half the sheet, hence the landscape below is sized approx 12" X 8".

After the first layer of blocking in the colours I used Winsor and Newton fixative spray on the painting. However I avoid spraying in the end. Lifting the painting, I lightly tap it on the floor or base to dust off the loose pastel particles and it is ready for framing.

Soft pastel painting of Karnala Landscape by Manju Panchal

Casting shadows
Soft Pastel painting on Fabriano Tizano paper
Size 8" X 12"

I have started with another soft pastel painting from one of my Matheran photographs. Will be posting the image once it is complete. My artworks can also be viewed on my facebook page ie

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Editing photographs of paintings using Adobe photoshop

Adobe Photoshop for editing paintings

I started my painting BLOG somewhere in January, inspired by all the other artists of the world who have been so active. Some of them paint and blog almost everyday. It has been a great learning experience for me as well. As I move forward taking one step at a time, I realise there is so much more to be done and the art journey goes on.

I recently started My facebook page ie . Therefore had to repost my new as well as old works on the site. Adobe Photoshop was on mind for long but I was just avoiding to use it but once I got into using it I have realised that it is not really that difficult or time consuming. Its just a matter of time and one gets used to it.

Posted below are my wet on wet water colour painitngs done some months back on Indian hand made paper. Both are small works and are done using reference photographs given by my friend who visited LADAKH. I want to do more of water colour paintings too but as of now am into doing soft pastel landscapes. Hence do not want to break the rhythm. 

Two water colour paintings of Ladakh Landscape
on Indian hand made paper
©Manju Panchal

My paintings can be seen on my facebook page 
and if you like my work then you can share my facebook page with friends.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Exposed roots of a tree - in charcoal and white pastel

I was to start a soft pastel painting of a landscape but at times due to personal commitments it is not always possible to devote sufficient time to art. But since I am a lot addicted to painting/sketching everyday, the next best option that I find very relaxing is doing a small study work. It takes roughly an hour or so and the feeling of having done some art work is absolutely great.

Today being one such day, I decided to do a tree study on beige coloured Canson mi tentes paper using charcoal pencil and white GENERAL soft pastel pencil. The beige colour of the paper acts as the midtone. Willow charcoal too has been used at places in the initial layers.

Charcoal and white soft pastel sketching of exposed roots of a tree by Manju Panchal

Small study work done in an hour
Exposed roots of a tree sketched on Canson Mi Tentes paper
©Manju Panchal

Edited photographs to be used as references for next few soft pastel paintings

The first step to creating a painting is selection of the next subject. The selection gets more complicated when there is a huge collection of photographs at your disposal. Hence I normally sit at night some day when I am not tired and then I go through my folder of different photographs. As a general rule I select four to five at a time and then get on to edit them.

Once editing is done as per the composition and light/contrast ratio that I want I save the images on my i pad for future use. Many a times it so happens that do not really use all the edited versions of my photographs. If I find something more meaningful and interesting then I suddenly change my mind. Its all upon the mood.

Most of these photographs as below are taken during our holiday trip to Matheran, a beautiful hill station.
One of them is from Karnala Bird Sanctuary.

Photographs to be used as reference for creating soft pastel paintings by Manju Panchal

Few edited photographs for future use as reference to
create soft pastel paintings.

When I use my own photos as reference it helps a lot as I have been to these places and I can relate to them. I know exactly the atmosphere as it was on that particular day and it helps to manage the colours well even if they have not been captured well by the camera. Its what I have seen that I want to paint. Nature is one of the most inspiring factors in my present art creations.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Trying out willow charcoal on Canson Ca grain paper

Time to experiment with new paper. I enjoyed doing last two works on Fabriano paper, but since I am a big fan of Canson Ca grain paper I decided to check out the willow charcoal work on Canson paper too. I love to try all different papers so that in future when I am planning to create a big piece of art work then I will be able to make a choice which will be based on my experiments or rather study works now.

The photograph which I selected belongs to COORG ( Madkeri ) and my initial plan was to use this photo for a pastel work. But looking at the composition with the dark contrast of the foliage in the backgdraound and foreground I decided to create a charcoal work using it as a reference.

 For initial block in of values I used willow charcoal. Later to create the very dark values I used a variety of black soft pastels. The foliage and branches were created using charcoal pencils of different brands as shown below. Use of pastels was not in the plan but I was not satisfied by the pencils alone to create the depth, hence brought in the pastels in this work. 

Black charcoal soft pastel and charcoal pencils used for creating charcoal sketching of landscape by Manju Panchal

A. PRIMO charcoal pencil
B. Artist Charcoal Pencil
C. Camel charcoal pencil
Right above the pencils are three small pieces of broken soft pastels in black colour.

Charcoal painting of Coorg Landscape created using willow charcoal and charcoal pencils. By Manju Panchal

Charcoal painting of Coorg Landscape
A Study work on Canson Ca grain paper
© Manju Panchal

I spent a little more than an hour on this work and in conclusion I like this paper and would definitely want to use it for bigger works. However would try the other side of the paper which has a fine texture as compared to the one that I have used.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Added new still life paintings on my kitchen wall ( oil and acrylic paintings )

I have my still life paintings collection put up on one of the walls of my kitchen for the last ten years. Recently decided to change a few of them, replacing them with my oil paintings. Earlier works were all done using Camel Acrylic paints.

The three new paintings that I have now added are the Orange, the Capsicum and the Beetroot.( All sized 6" X 6" ). Rest continue to remain the same.

Collection of small still life paintings in acrylic and oil paints. By Manju Panchal

Arrangement of still life paintings on my kitchen wall.
© Manju Panchal

Small sized paintings can be put together on the wall in many different ways. Groups of two and three also go fine on certain walls. Presently I am engaged in doing Landscapes and want to continue doing so. In addition I am planning for an EXHIBITION of my recent works in the month of May 2014, so will have to decide on the CONCEPT, THEME etc. Will post details about it soon.

You can also view my works on my facebook page

Friday, 19 December 2014

Rainy season, Foggy landscape in Matheran

"Even when you paint, you never stop drawing." Igor Babailov

A foggy day in Matheran, during the rainy season, water flowing down the slope in the muddy pathway. Using a reference photograph, once again created a Willow Charcoal landscape on Fabriano paper.

Charcoal drawing of a scene from Matheran

Foggy day in Matheran
Charcoal sketching on Fabriano Academia paper

Apart from Willow charcoal, I have used PRIMO charcoal pencil by GENERAL, and Camel charcoal pencil. The pencil was used in the end to do a little details like rocks, foliage etc. Since I had decided not to spend more than one hour on this work, I restricted myself on doing further details.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Another one hour charcoal sketch on Fabriano Academia paper

The last two charcoal sketches I made using willow charcoal were on cartridge sheet. This time I decided to use a sheet from Fabriano Academia pad. The fabriano paper has a texture on it and it gives a different look to the artwork.
Regarding the subject, I randomly selected a phtograph with mountains, rocks, slopes with grasses etc. ( Matheran ) Limiting my time to one hour ( size 5" X 7" ) I went ahead using willow charcoal and in addition all existing charcoal pencils in my collection, to create this work. It is a study work and therefore I did not concentrate too much on details. Just wanted to check out which pencil goes best with willow charcoal work. Sketching mountains and rocks is a lot different from doing trees and foliage. The movement of pencil and scribbling etc , its a different learning experience altogether.

Charcoal sketching of Matheran Landscape using willow charcoal. By Manju Panchal

Charcoal sketching ( A study work )
Created on Fabriano Academia paper
© Manju Panchal

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Getting the feel of Willow Charcoal

I am beginning to like willow charcoal. It is smooth on the paper and helps making quick sketches. However since I have not used it earlier in my charcoal paintings, I feel the need to create few quick sketches to get the feel of it. Then later I will decide , may be,  to use it ion the initial layer to block in the general values before beginning with the details.

This is my second landscape sketch ( Karnala Bird Sanctuary ) that I created using willow charcoal and Camel charcoal pencil. I had decided to time myself as I did not want to spend more than one hour on this. I only wanted to create a simple sketch without too many details BUT it gets difficult to stop once you start and I finally gave it up after having reached this far.

Charcoal sketching made using willow charcoal, By Manju Panchal

Charcoal study sketch using Willow charcoal
Created on white cartridge paper.
© Manju Panchal

Willow charcoal can get very messy and I realised that all my erasers had turned black in my charcaol painting kit. So I decided this morning to shift the willow charcoal to another small cardboard box, with a tissue paper placed underneath.

Willow Charcoal

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Cleaning up - My Soft Pastel Palette

My present Soft Pastel palette consists of broken pieces of pastels of different brands placed together as per their colours and values. This arrangement helps me choose the right colour more easily rather than search in individual boxes of different brands. However over a period of time depending on use, it gathers a lot of pastel dust and the outer layer is very muddy which does not help in colour recognition in a precise manner.So the pastels need to be cleaned up.

I have been reading a lot on net regarding the different methods used by artists for cleaning up dusty pastels, so I applied one of them and it worked perfectly well for me.I took little rice in a bowl and dropped the broken pastels in them, shuffled it thoroughly and then removed it. The external surface of each individual pastel did get cleaned up. So I plan to follow this method even in future. 

Cleaning up broken pastels by shuffling them in a rice bowl. ( Manju Panchal )

Cleaning off the dust from broken pastels
by shuffling them in a bowl of rice.

Cleaned up Soft Pastel Palette by Manju Panchal

Pastel Palette with all cleaned up pastels 

The broken pieces belong to MUNGYO, GALLERY and KOH-I-NOOR

Matheran - a tree in soft pastels

This particular tree with lot of greenery in the background was a bit of a challenge and I almost gave it up midway but having put in efforts it is not easy to abandon too. Hence keeping it aside for a day, I restarted the same painting next morning with fresh mind and with the intention of completing it. 

It happens that in the process of doing a painting we realise that certain things could have been differently with respect to adding colours or shadows etc. This very realisation is the learning lesson that gets carried forward to the next painting where we implement the knowledge to avoid the mistakes made in the past.

Soft pastel painting of a tree in Matheran by Manju Panchal

Solitary tree
Soft pastel painting on Canson paper

This soft pastel painting is from a reference photograph taken at Matheran, a beautiful hill station close to Mumbai. We were there last December for a short holiday.

My paintings now can also be viewed on my facebook page
If you happen to like them you can share the page with your friends too.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Charcoal and Pastel painting of a bird on Canson paper

I had this beautiful photograph of a bird sitting outside our HOMESTAY in Coorg , with a confident pose and attitude. Being a bright sunlit day the shadow of the bird on the tiled ground surface had sharp edges and on the whole the picture made for a good composition. Not finding enough time to do it in colours, I decided to render it in charcoal and white pastel pencil.

I have used Camel soft charcoal pencil and General's white pastel pencil to create this painting on Canson mi Tentes paper.

Charcoal and soft pastel painting on Canson Paper
© Manju Panchal

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Painting trees in soft pastels

The soft pastel Landscape painting below is from a photograph taken near the banks of river Kaveri, in the district of Kodagu, Karnataka. We visited this dense green forest area while we were holidaying in Coorg.

The photograph was clicked at around eleven in the morning and part of the landscape is in shadows. The sunlight piercing through the trunks falling on the edges of trunks and foliage around made for an interestng subject to paint. I have few more such photographs lined up for painting. In the meantime i have already started with my plein air charcoal sketching of Landscape and will post a few images soon.

Soft Pastel painting of a Landscape near Banks of Kaveri river, near Coorg. By Manju Panchal

Trees around
Soft pastel painting on Fabriano paper

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Yet another Chitkul Landscape in soft pastels

When I am using my Himachal photograph as a reference I know for sure that I am getting the experience of doing rocks and boulders. Its a different terrain altogether. The roads are winding, and suddenly you come across a big boulder at the periphery as seen below. The plants, the vegetation growing around , all add to the beauty of the atmosphere. This particular landscape is from CHITKUL, a small beautiful town in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. ( Near the Indo -Tibet border ).

 In this particular landscape photograph there was a huge tree in the background but I avoided doing it in order to have a better composition. It was the month of June, the weather was chilly and I remember stopping after every few minutes to soak in the beauty of nature and to click photographs. No matter which side you looked and at what angle, there was something breathtaking which you did not want to miss out. I have many more photographs in my collection, and it becomes a difficult decision to select the next subject as many of them are pretty complicated with rocks, trees, water flowing etc etc. But I plan to do them all one at a time. 

Soft pastel painting of a Landscape at Chitkul by Manju Panchal

Boulder at the edge
Soft pastel painting on Fabriano paper

Friday, 5 December 2014

Using Willow charcoal for creating a landscape sketch

Purchased willow charcoal, ( Made in China ) quite some time back. Never really got to try it. Have been doing a lot of soft pastel landscapes recently. Therefore to avoid reaching saturation level decided to do one of my next subjects in willow charcoal and Camel charcoal pencil. Its more of a study work, something like a rough sketch to get an idea about the composition and values. I did not spend more than forty minutes on this one.

This landscape scene is a small part of a big photograph taken at KARNALA Bird Sanctuary. I normally edit and while editing, crop the photograph and take only the part which I find interesting. The sunlight created some beautiful shadows on the road and I would love to do this painting in soft pastels soon.

Charcoal painting of Karnala Bird Sanctuary landscape by Manju Panchal

The Shadow
Charcoal sketching on cartridge paper

Using willow charcoal is a new experience for me and it will take a little time to get used to it but I quite enjoyed using it as it helps to do a quick study work. It looks pretty dark when applied on paper but the moment we smudge it with fingers it gets absolutely light. Hence I used Camel charcoal pencil to create the darker lines and shadings.
willow charcoal
Willow Charcoal set

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

India Art Festval - Nehru Centre 2014

Attended the India Art festival on 28th and 30th of November at Nehru Centre, Worli. Got to meet artists from all parts of India and had a great time admiring the different works. Very inspiring and motivating.

Also got to meet personally an artist from Karjat, Mr Parag Borse whose works were exhibited on the ground floor, AC Hall. Truly amazing works rendered in soft pastels, charcoals and oils. It was a pleasure to meet him and talk to him. His exhibition was titled "VIBRANCY" and the works reflected exactly that.

Oil Painitng by Parag Borse

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Painting a tree in soft pastels

Using a random photograph from my "saved images" collection, created a soft pastel painting with the tree in focus.Each tree has its unique features, be it bark, exposed roots or branches and leaves.

I have used MUNGYO and KOH-I-NOOR soft pastels for creating this painting. In order to create fine lines to represent branches of trees, I use my charcoal pencils. In my collection of charcoal pencils, I have General, Conte A Paris and Camel.

Soft pastel painting of a tree from a reference photograph by Manju Panchal

The lone tree
Soft Pastel painting on Fabriano paper

An interesting quote

"Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought"

Monday, 1 December 2014

The road leading to Spiti Valley - A soft pastel painting

The painting below is a reminder of the narrow roads that we took to reach beautiful heavenly places in SPITI valley. ( Himachal Pradesh ). Places like Nako, Tabo and Kaza which many people are still unaware of. Its a harsh terrain and after every few kilometres one comes across a very different mountain range with unique textures, colours and some unbelievable patterns. The breathtaking view at every turn of the road kept us in suspense and it was a pleasure to capture the moments in Camera. It was a quiet journey as not many tourists go beyond Kinnaur district.You do not get to see too many vehicles on the road too.

Its time to do a few landscapes with mountains and rocks. I loved creating this soft pastel painting. Did not want to miss out the details as can be seen on the road. The rides were bumpy and not very comfortable as the roads from Kinnaur onwards are not in a good shape.

Soft pastel painting of road leading to Spiti Valley by Manju Panchal
Moving on
Soft Pastel Painting on Fabriano paper