Sunday 28 June 2015

Kilim Geoforest - rocks under the water

I had this photograph on my ipad for months and it was in my "TO DO" lists but somehow
this work never got started until last week. After having done the charcoal sketching of
rocks under the water from my Lonavala photograph I finally decided to get started with
this one too.

This close up photograph was taken while we were at the beautiful beach at Kilim Geoforest in Langkawi, Malaysia.The ripples and reflections were a challenge and I am still not very
satisfied but while doing and redoing to get the final result I learnt a lot. One rock on the upper
left was partly above the water and rest of the rocks were submerged and it was important to
observe the directions of ripples as the water movement took place. Also there was lot of
perspective in the diagram to be taken care of. I did this charcoal sketching over a period
of six days and went slow and held my patience.

original charcoal sketching of rocks under the water by Manju Panchal

The submerged rocks
Charcoal sketching on Fabriano paper
Size 5.5" x 7"

Apart from paintings and sketchings I also take out time to design Nameplates for the wall.
You can view my innovative ethnic nameplates on my other BLOG.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Creating a forest using willow charcoal and few other pencils

A demo work done during a recent Charcoal painting workshop referring to a photograph by
Vidya Alange Bhandary who writes a beautiful BLOG based on her travel experiences.

I came across Vidya's  site when I was looking for travelogues to Himachal. Vidya has posted
some great photographs on her blog. I have taken her permission to use her photographs for
my reference painting. This particular painting is from Coorg and I immediately felt the
connection as I have been to this beautiful place.

Original charcoal painting of a forest from Coorg by Manju Panchal

Through the forest.
Charcoal sketching on Fabriano Academia paper
Size 5.5" x 7"

Beautiful quote

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

Blogging is in a way like a diary of one's artworks. The day to day painting and learning experiences all get recorded through the postings. If it were not for the blog that I started, I would have perhaps been doing my art but at my own pace and not with great amount of focus. 

Friday 26 June 2015

About Joseph Zbukvic - master water colourist

Learning never ends. Every step that I take in my art journey, it adds to my knowledge and it surprises me. There is so much more to learn, understand and enjoy.

While surfing the net some time back I came across the works of Joseph Zbukvic, ( Master water colourist from Melbourne ) and immediately fell in love with them. Each of his water colour painting speaks a volume. Joseph Zbukvic has the ability to transform any subject into visual poetic language.

Posted below are his works. Courtesy

Some water colour paintings by
Joseph Zbukvic

Joseph Zbukvic says, " Painting precise locations is irrelevant; simply capture the character"

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary - a landscape in charcoal

"You never outgrow drawing. It's so fundamental to everything." Debra Groessner.

A winter scene from Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary OR Keoladeo National Park. ( Spread over an area of 29 square kilometres ).We visited this beautiful place in the winters of 2005. It was cold and mornings would generally be foggy. This scene was shot while we were in the boat cruising through the still waters. We had a guide with us who was well versed with all the bird species in the area. In 1985 the park was declared a Heritage site.

I have once again used willow charcoal and mostly camel soft charcoal pencil to create this morning landscape in Charcoal medium.

original charcoal sketching of landscape from Bharatpur bird sanctuary by Manju Panchal

Morning in Bharatpur
Charcoal sketching on Fabriano Academia paper
Size 6" x 10"

The place was so amazingly beautiful and I may soon do a soft pastel painting of the same scene.

Apart from drawing and painting I also occasionally design ethnic products like NAMEPLATES
which can be viewed at my other blog If you have any purchase related inquiry you can mail me at
 OR call me at 9820683983 ( Mumbai )

Papers I use for soft pastel paintings - Canson Mi Teintes and Fabriano Tiziano

When I initially started my soft pastel art I had just one choice of Fabriano Elle Erre paper which has parallel lines running across on its textured side. I was pretty happy then as I had not known any other papers by then and I went on to create lot of works on it.

Much later I came across Canson Mi Teintes paper and I was glad that it is available in India. Presently I buy my Canson papers from ART LOUNGE which is situated close to Churchgate station ( MUMBAI ). This paper comes in many different colours, from pastel shades to very dark ones. Canson paper was so much better than Elle erre paper that I decided to continue with just this paper.

Canson Mi Teintes has two sides and both of them can be used depending on what suits one's work. One side has smooth textured surface and the other side has a rough or honeycombed texture on it. Depending on what is the subject and the requirement one can use either of the sides. Though for most of my works I prefer the smooth surface.

Canson mi tentes, twilight paper, rough textured side

Canson Mi Teintes paper
Rough textured side of the paper

Canson mi tentes, twilight paper, smooth textured side

Canson Mi Teintes
Smooth side of the paper

Sometime last year I read the reviews about Fabriano Tiziano paper and FLIPKART happened to be selling it. So I ordered 2 pads of 14" x 16" paper. ( black colour ). After having used it I did not regret spending on it as it turned out pretty good. Just as Canson has two different textures on its two sides, Fabriano too has a rough and a smooth side. I prefer to use the smooth side for my landscapes.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Using willow charcoal to create foliage

The scenes below are from Langkawi, Malaysia. We were at this beach Pantal Pasir Hitam, also called the Black Sand Beach, located about two kms to the west of Tanjung Rhu beach. This is a very peaceful stretch of beach stained with black sand. The colour is owing to mineral contents in the sand such as iron oxide.

Both the photographs which I took while at the beach, are my favourites. As an artist when I take a photograph it is always with the intention of painting the scene some day. Some scene just strikes a chord and the composition seems just perfect.

While on a holiday at times we are just rushing from one place to another and it is not always possible to create a study sketch on the spot. Hence the next best thing to do is use the photograph.

I chose these two photographs mainly because of the contrast, the light and the dark. It gave me an opportunity to use the willow charcoal to create the dark foliage against the light background

charcoal painting of a seascape from Langkawi by Manju Panchal

Hitting the shore
Charcoal painting
Size 6" x 8"

charcoal painting of a seascape from Langkawi by Manju Panchal

Charcoal painting
Size 5" x 7"

Quote : " Learning never exhausts the mind." by Leonardo da Vinci

Very inspiring quote and I continue to learn by my day to day art endeavours and experiments. 

Friday 19 June 2015

Painting a scene from Karnala in charcoal

Quick study work in Charcoal

A scene from Karnala Bird Sanctuary, a green hideaway close to Panvel. The scene as painted below in charcoal has been done using one of my photographs as reference. With aerial roots on the left, the scene appealed a lot to me and I felt the composition was quite good. 

I have made good use of willow charcoal in this artwork especially to create the foliage effect. When I am trying out something new using a new tool or technique I do it with a small size. It makes me feel comfortable. If it works good for me then I go ahead with a larger piece of work. In this particular work I have not spent any time creating each and individual leaf or fine details. I only wanted to capture the feel of the place, with trees, hanging roots and the dense foliage.

Charcoal sketching of a landscape scene from Karnala Bird Sanctuary by Manju Panchal

Aerial roots
Charcoal sketching on Canson ca grain paper
Size 4" x 5"

Charcoal tools used for sketching by Manju Panchal

The tools used in creating the above charcoal sketching.
 1. Camel very soft charcoal pencil
2. Staedtler charcoal pencil EE
3. Willow charcoal ( some chinese brand )
4. Kneaded putty or eraser

I have quite a variety of charcoal pencils but many a times for a particular landscape the requirement is for creating grass or foliage etc and that makes me decide which pencil to use. Each pencil is different in its own way. Some are smooth, others are a bit coarse and rough on the paper. The texture of the paper too makes me take a decision. 

I have introduced willow charcoal very recently in my artworks and I am enjoying it. It will take a little time to get used to it and to know its advantages as an additional tool. Once done I will post a write up about it.

Thursday 18 June 2015

DIY - Create your own travel sketch book.

Somewhere last year when I was looking around for a small sketch book in order to create small art works or study sketches, I did not find what would suit my purpose. Either it was highly priced or it did not have the papers that I was looking for. So I decided to create my own SKETCH BOOK.

I have posted earlier about the same. I had this hand made paper with me on which I was frequently doing small water colour works. So I cut forty small rectangles sized 3.5" x 5" and then took it to the stationery shop and got it spirally bound. This solved my purpose and moreover I got the paper which was appropriate for my works.

I am also planning to create a similar book for my pencil and charcoal sketches but then I will need to place butter paper in between the sheets to avoid smudging.

DIY create travel sketch book, by Manju Panchal

( Do it yourself )
Sketch book created using hand made paper

There are about six pages still to go so I decided to use them for my Himachal series,
study sketches. This way I also get to experiment with my mediums as I have done in the
 image below where I have used both water colour and soft pastels to just paint for fun.

Study sketch from a scene in Himachal by Manju Panchal

Small study work for my future painting
water colour and soft pastel on hand made paper

I have also started posting some of my paintings and sketchings on Arti Chauhan's blog I am thankful to Arti Chauhan for making me a part of her blog and giving me an opportunity to share my works with other Indian artists and the world.

Monday 15 June 2015

Rocks under the water - a charcoal work

On my recent visit to Lonavala we got an opportunity to visit a small serene lake area in the Naval campus. The evening was setting in and the sunlight pretty low but I was fortunate to get some good pictures of rocks under the water at the shore line using my mobile.

This is one subject which always appeals to me. I used the charcoal medium to create this quick study sketch of the view.

original charcoal sketching of rocks under water by Manju Panchal

Rocks under the water
Charcoal sketching on Canson ca grain paper
Size 6" x 8"

Materials used:
  • Camel charcoal pencil
  • Conte charcoal pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Tortillons or blending tools
  • Canson ca grain paper
I recently came across the water color works of RAMESH JHAWAR and I really loved them. If you are into water colours, you must check out his works on his BLOG. I too want to get into water colours again but a little later.

Sunday 14 June 2015

A view from Komic village - looking below at Kaza and spiti river

At a height of 4513 mts, Komic village offers breathtaking views of mountains peaks, Spiti river, and KAZA town below. The highest inhabited village of the Himalayas, and its landsscape will leave you in awe. I painted this scene in soft pastels. It is more of a small study work.

Original soft pastel painting of landscape from Spiti valley by Manju Panchal

Around Komic village
Soft pastel painting on Fabriano paper
Size 6" x 8"


" I dream my painting and I paint my dream." - Vincent van Gogh.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Confluence of Sutlej and Spiti river - Himachal Pradesh

While on Himachal trip as we proceeded from Kinnaur valley towards Spiti district we came across Khab bridge as seen in the photograph below. After crossing this bridge we followed the road which led us to Nako, our next destination in Spiti district.

This is the place where the two rivers Sutlej and Spiti meet. Spiti river is on the left of the bridge and cannot be seen in the photograph.

Khab bridge in Himachal ( kinnaur )

The Khab bridge in Himachal

As we cross the bridge and move on the left we come across the view ( as painted below ) entering the Hangrang valley. With the dry barren mountains on both the sides and the road leading forward, it was interesting to paint this scene in soft pastels.The view was intensely captivating and I remember spending quite some time here revering the beauty of nature and photographing at different angles. 

I decided to paint this scene in a very loose manner without getting into too many detailed strokes. Just wanted to get the feel of the place. These small works are a big help in getting to understand mountains, rocks and skies. New subjects are always challenging and I feel it is good to break the rhythm of doing the same subject for long as it stagnates the mind.

Soft pastel painting of a landscape from Himachal by Manju Panchal

Enroute Spiti District
Soft pastel painting
Size 6" x 8"

I have used a grey coloured Canson mi tentes paper for this pastel work and worked with very limited colours from my pastel palette.

If you are passionate about travelling and visiting beautiful places then you can read the travelogues posted in which provides a whole lot of information about some of the remote places in India not commonly visited by tourists. It will help you select a good destination for your next holiday trip. I was informed about this site when we were in Chitkul in Himachal by a group of tourists who had arrived there from Delhi.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Edgar Degas - an inspiration

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

My first set of soft pastels  MUNGYO ( 24 pastels ) was gifted to me by my husband some years
back who always surprises me by getting some new art stationery that he comes across,
knowing my passion for art. Back then I had no idea what pastels were all about.

It's only when I surfed the net, I realised that soft pastels can be used to create beautiful vibrant paintings and then began my journey of soft pastel art.

As an artist, I am inspired by lot of pastel artists and Edgar Degas is one of them. Hence I decided to dedicate a post to him. It feels good to know that paintings done in soft pastels have survived ages and are as durable as any other medium.

Edgar Degas ( 1834 - 1917 ) was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures,prints and drawings. He also was a master of soft pastels and used a unique process of boiling them ( before application ) that render his works quite distinctive. Degas is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers and many of these are rendered in pastels.The artist went a long way toward establishing pastels as a fine arts form.
Courtesy :

Soft pastel painting by Edgar Degas

Blue dancers by Edgar Degas

Soft pastel painting by Edgar Degas

Bowing dancer by Edgar Degas

Soft pastels are created using pure pigments and a binder, hence their colours remain brilliant and last long. Moreover unlike oil paintings there is no worry about any kind of cracking or fading. Soft pastel paintings need to be framed under glass and it care has to be taken to keep it away from moisture and sunlight.

A site that I recently came across which has a whole lot of information on Edgar Degas and his works including his drawings and sculptures is and you are a big fan of soft pastels as a medium, you must browse through their collection. It will inspire you just as it has inspired me.

Thank you for browsing through my works.

Sunday 7 June 2015

On the way to Roghi village from Kalpa in Himachal Pradesh

Roghi village is 8 kms from Kalpa in Himachal Pradesh. The cliff hugging one way road to this beautiful village has spectacular views. I have painted one such view where we stopped the vehicle and spent a few moments looking around. The depth below was alarming. Some parts of the road do not have any kind of barrier at the edge but the locals from Himachal, I guess are adept at driving in these areas.

The painting below has been done on canson paper using soft pastels of miscellaneous brands.

Deep Below
Soft pastel painting on Canson mi tentes paper
Size 6" x 9"

Friday 5 June 2015

A foggy day - charcoal painting

Taking a break from soft pastel paintings. 

Created a landscape painting using Conte charcoal pencil and Camel soft charcoal pencil. This is a demo work which I did recently during my charcoal workshop. This was a good exercise to get an understanding of depth and perspective. The original photograph was edited in order to get a good composition.

original charcoal painting of a foggy day landscape by Manju Panchal

Foggy day
Demo charcoal painting on Canson ca grain paper
size 4" x 5"

Discovered an old graphite work done using 6B pencil on Fabriano Academia paper.
Made a few corrections on it. As an artist we always get tempted to make changes in older works because as we keep painting our knowledge, style, technique gets evolved and we feel like applying it on previous works. This kind of experimenting is fun.

Original graphite work on Fabriano Academia sheet , created by Manju Panchal

Two Bananas
Graphite sketching on Fabriano Academia paper
Size 4" x 4"

My works can also be viewed on my facebook page