Sunday, 31 July 2016

Experimenting and exploring - Willow charcoal techniques.

"Choose only one master - Nature." - Rembrandt"

Willow charcoal has been one of the recent additions in my set of "Charcoal tools". I am still in the process of getting to know it better. By repetitive use I will know how and where it works best and fits in my "Charcoal sketching techniques". I have used it lately for my "Quick study works"of forest landscapes and I realised that once broken into small pieces, it can be used like mini soft pastels.

A small piece of willow charcoal when rubbed on the paper surface to create different strokes creates a beautiful texture. It can be blended with finger with different levels of pressure to create the light and dark values.

Given below are three different small study works that I created on ordinary cartridge paper in order to get a better understanding of the tree anatomy, landscape composition and willow charcoal.

Study work of landscape created using willow charcoal. By Manju Panchal

Study work of landscape created using willow charcoal. By Manju Panchal

Study work of landscape created using willow charcoal. By Manju Panchal

Study works of landscapes 
Created using willow charcoal
Size 4" X 5"

I had planned to spend not more than twenty minutes on each of these sketches, however as I was also involved into experimenting and exploring, I spent a little more time on each of them. A new tool, a new technique, it all adds to the excitement and I am now waiting to create a Charcoal sketching where in I can have a "Fusion of willow charcoal and charcoal pencils".

Willow charcoal used for creating study sketches by Manju Panchal

Willow charcoal.

When I first worked with willow charcoal, ( Dec 2014 ) I was not too sure if I will be using it in the long term. It would smudge a lot and create shades of grey, was difficult to control on paper. So it made me feel a little uneasy. It happens all the time. New tool, new pencil, it takes a little time to get used to it. Hence I have decided to go ahead and create a few more sketches which I will be posting very soon. 

Thanks for browsing. 

Friday, 29 July 2016

Step by step - charcoal study sketch of a tree trunk

" Creativity is intelligence having fun." Albert Einstein

Creating a simple value sketch in a short duration of fifteen to twenty minutes helps me to simplify
the painting process. My charcoal sketching workshop is coming up in the next week so I decided to spend some moments with the charcoal medium.

I am posting below two different quick tree trunk sketches that I created using willow charcoal and a normal charcoal pencil. These sketches need to be sprayed with a fixative to avoid the sketching from smudging OR as an alternate solution one can keep it protected under butter paper.

Step by step charcoal study sketch of a tree trunk by Manju Panchal

Step 1. Applied willow charcoal and smudged it using finger.
Step 2. Created an outline of the tree trunk.
Step 3. Added the darkest values and the highlights lifted using eraser.
Step 4. Added midvalues using willow charcoal and charcoal pencil. A few
details using eraser and pencil.

Step by step charcoal study sketch of a tree trunk by Manju Panchal

Step by step charcoal study sketch
created on Favini paper
Size 4"X 5"

Creating a small sketch helps me understand the steps leading to the final execution of the artwork.
Therefore when I start the sketching on a bigger scale, I don't have to think a lot about the value variations as I have already worked on it earlier itself. Both the tree trunks were captured on my mobile while I was in Lonavala recently.

CLICK HERE to see one of my step by step charcaol sketching that I posted earlier in Jan 2016.
I have lately started using "Willow Charcoal" a lot for my quick sketches as it covers up the paper fast and is easy to blend and control. The only drawback is that it smudges a whole lot. Therefore I avoid using it on my final art work except at places where I need to create foliage etc. I will learn more about it as I continue to use it and explore some other possibilities. The paper I have used for the above sketching is an acid free paper from Italy, Favini.

Monday, 25 July 2016

New Sketch book - Water colour study work

" Color is my day long obsession, joy and torment." Claude Monet

Recently I started my fifth sketch book sized 4" X 5", made of cartridge sheets. I have posted in detail about this book earlier too. CLICK HERE to know more about it. I have fallen in love with these books because they help me learn and evolve. Each painting that I create in these small sketch books is a small study in itself. Study sketch/Thumbnail sketch plays a very significant role in my painting process. It is a preliminary step which helps me connect with the subject that I am painting.

Once the study sketch gets done, I evaluate the possibilities of it's getting converted into a bigger piece of art OR if there are a few errors then I go ahead and rectify them by creating another study work by making the relevant changes. Moreover I have realised that study sketches that I have been creating the past using soft pastel medium gets difficult to store. Therefore I decided to dedicate my present sketch book only to landscapes created using water colour medium. If the work looks satisfactory then I can recreate it using any medium, be it charcoals or soft pastels.

Sketch book with cartridge sheets sized 4" X 5" for study works by Manju Panchal

Fifth Sketch book devoted to water colour
study works of landscapes.

Given below are two water colour paintings created in the sketch book. I also make small notes if necessary with respect to my technique or colours used etc and always write the date for my future reference.

A water colour study work in a small sketch book by Manju Panchal

A water colour study work in a small sketch book by Manju Panchal

Two study works in water colour medium.

I am a lot involved in soft pastel as well as charcoal medium. However I love the water colour medium too. Hence creating small water colour sketches ( Fifteen to twenty minutes ) helps me to keep in touch with my water colour painting skills. The paints used in the above paintings are by Camlin.

Two of my favourite water colour paintings that I created after referring to the study works that I created in one such sketch book. ( Himachal Pradesh )

Two water colour works done in the past
on hand made water colour paper.

Sometimes when I am looking for inspiration, I sit down browsing through my sketch books.
Looking at some interesting works in the past motivates me a lot. These sketch books are like most artists say "A Visual diary". I keep them safe at a convenient place and during the "Art workshops" that I conduct on a regular basis, students enjoy going through them. 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Morning at the creek - A soft pastel painting

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

The scene below is from Lokhandwala creek (The Marshy Wetlands ), which is in close proximity to my residence. It is a very quiet area and is frequented by lots of different bird species in the early morning hours. 

Some time in the month of June I had visited this place along with another artist friend with the aim of doing Plein air sketching"(Sketching on location).The weather was hot and humid and I was not comfortable sketching outdoors, but I managed to complete a few of them. 

Using one of the sketches and referring to the photograph of the scene, I created this pastel painting as below on Canson Mi Teintes paper. I selected this particular scene as my "subject" since it gave me the opportunity to paint water and the reflections. Furthermore I got to work on the trees and bushes at the distance.

Soft pastel painting of a scene from Lokhandwala wetlands by Manju Panchal

Morning at the creek
Soft pastel painting on Canson Mi Teintes paper
Size 5" X 7"

After painting seascapes and waterfalls, it was a pleasant change to paint a creek scene as above. I have created plenty of thumbnail sketches in the past few days and will be painting a few more landscapes using the soft pastel medium.

Monday, 18 July 2016

A seashore at Bamboo island ( Thailand )

"Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction." 
By E. O. Wilson

The white sandy pristine beaches of Bamboo island ( Thailand ) are a very inspiring subject to me.
I visited this beautiful place quite recently during out Phi Phi Leh tour. I want to paint a whole series on these calm and serene beaches. The soft pastel painting below is created on an orange coloured Canson Mi Teintes paper. I selected this particular photograph for its sky, the tall trees on the right and the colours of the sea.

I edited the photograph using the Aviary App as I wanted the composition to be right. One third land and two third sky. While photographing a scene that appeals to me, I take care of the composition but many a times it is not possible as there is not enough time to focus and adjust the various parameters. Hence the next best option is to click and later edit it. The beach was overcrowded but I decided to go ahead with my art without the figures. Will add them in my later works.

Every subject that I select to paint has something new to offer, a different sky, a different perspective, the colours, the atmosphere.This brings about a little change in my normal routine technique and at
times I am forced to do things beyond my comfort zone. I find it exciting. I have also shortlisted a
few works with rocks at the seashore which I will be doing soon.

A soft pastel painting of a seashore on Canson Mi Teintes paper, By Manju Panchal

The Calm waters
Soft pastel painting on Canson Mi Teintes paper.
Size 5" X 7"

Pastels are a great medium to work with and I am truly enjoying working with them. Presently
I am a lot into Canson Mi Teintes paper but some day I would love to try the sanded papers 
which can taken in more than two layers. Some very popular ones are UART and Wallis sanded
papers. To know more about different pastel products one can visit Dakota Pastels which deals mainly with pastel products. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Sunset at Colva beach - A soft pastel painting

The soft pastel painting below is a scene from Colva beach, Goa. I have created this painting with
reference to a photograph taken by me about four years back. It was monsoon season and one evening during sunset we witnessed this dramatic sky with beautiful cloud arrangement in the sky.
The sun rays scattered in the sky and lit up the edges of the dark clouds. It was an amazing sight.

This painting has always been in my "To Do" list as it had this element of "Clouds" in it. I have
been painting landscapes since long but have not painted the sky as my main subject. This painting
has been a new and interesting experience for me.

I have used a black coloured Canson Mi Teintes paper and Koh-I-Noor soft pastels ( Few are 
from Camlin and Mungyo brand ) for this art work. Whenever I start with a new unknown "Subject", I prefer creating a small painting. It gets done fast and all the suspense regarding the outcome is revealed soon. 

A soft pastel painting of sunset at Colva beach, Goa. By Manju Panchal

Sunset at Colva beach.
Soft pastel painting on Canson Mi Teintes paper.
Size 5" X 7"

I am posting an image of the pastels that I used for my above painting. Instead of using my full pastel palette I decided to pick only those few which I felt would be required for the above art work. Limited Palette is always a convenient option and it helps avoid a lot of confusion.

Limited pastels used for creating the Colva beach painting by Manju Panchal

Limited Pastel palette.

An interesting quote
" Art is the only way to run away without leaving home." Twyla Tharp

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Sketching a Mountainscape using white pastel pencil

The black Strathmore Artagain 400 series paper is fun to work with. I have not tried the pastel chalks on it, however the white pastel pencil works really fine on its smooth surface. After my last work that I created recently, I was inspired to do another one on the same subject.

Therefore I went ahead with my next creation of yet another of my "Mountainscape" in this series using the white pastel pencils. The source of light in the sketching below is from the right and hence accordingly I had to work out my highlights and shadows. 

White pastel art work on a black paper is a great way of doing a "Value study".

White pastel pencil sketching on black paper by Manju Panchal

The Peak
White pastel pencil sketching on black paper
Size 4.5"X 5.5"

"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary." Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

White pastel pencil sketching on Strathmore paper

A beautiful, inspiring Quote...
"Learning never exhausts the mind." Leonardo Da Vinci

Sometime back I posted my white pastel sketching of a Mountainscape which I created on
Strathmore 400 series black paper. I enjoyed creating the sketch and had it in mind to create
a few more in the same series because I felt that this is a simple sketching process which is not 
very time consuming and in return helps to understand the unique aspects of each mountain range with respect to scale, form, value and detail. 

For the sketching below I have once again used the snow mountains as a reference. The source of light is from the left which helps in deciding on the light and the dark values. The black colour of the paper acts as the darkest value. 

White pastel pencil sketching on black paper by Manju Panchal

The slopes
White pastel pencil sketching on black paper
Size 4.5"X 5.5"

I have used three different pastel pencils to complete this work namely Conte, General and Cretacolour. In the initial stage I use only Conte as it is lighter and much smoother in
comparison to General and Cretacolour.

white pastel pencils Conte, Cretacolour and General's.

Conte, Cretacolour and General white pastel pencil

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Demo works created during an art workshop - Charcoal medium

From time to time I conduct Art workshops  wherein I get to interact with people like me who
are passionate about art. During this workshop I share and demonstrate my techniques which
I follow to create my kind of art.

The image below is a collage of three charcoal sketching's that I demonstrated during a recent two days charcoal workshop. 

1. A scene from Kalpa ( Himachal Pradesh )
2. Sea waves hitting the shore. ( Langkawi island )
3. A scene inspired from Himachal Pradesh.

Charcoal sketchings created during an art workshop by Manju Panchal

Charcoal sketchings created during a workshop
on Canson and cartridge paper.

The participants get to use different kinds of charcoal pencils, willow charcoal, erasing tools,
sketching surfaces ( Canson, Strathmore, Fabriano Academia etc ) which gives them exposure 
to different options of stationery available to them.

However the materials that I use are my personal preferences and I advise everyone to experiment
on their own to know what paper or pencil suits their work. 

Art workshops are fun and I always look forward to it. It inspires and motivates me. I in turn
motivate the participants to work towards their art, to create original works and pursue their 

"Perseverance is the hard work you do after getting tired of the hard work you already did."
Newt Gingrich