Saturday 30 January 2016

The morning glow - Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

"A Picture is a poem without words" - Horace

The image as below is of a painting created from a reference photo that I clicked while we 
back. It was early morning and we were in the boat that was quietly moving through the waters
in the marshy wetlands, surrounded by greenery on either sides. The weather was cold, the 
warm sunrays were perforating through the foliage and it was so very quiet. It was a lovely
place to be and is a must visit for all artists and photographers alike.

The national park is a host to more than 366 bird species. It is a major tourist centre and has
been declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. 

Using soft pastels I have tried to capture the morning glow. I have also created yet another soft
pastel painting of a beautiful scene from the same place. Shall be posting it soon.

soft pastel landscape of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary by Manju Panchal

The Morning Glow
Soft pastel paintiing on Canson ( Black ) paper
Size 6" X 9"

I have submitted this painting in the weekly challenge conducted by DPW.

I have my precious collection of photographs which I have been collecting over a period
of years. Slowly and steadily I am shortlisting them and then as the mood sets in, I paint
them. Some landscapes have been a challenge to paint so they have been
shortlisted long time back but it is now that I am daring to them one by one.

There are a few beautiful forest scenes from Matheran which I plan to do shortly.
One of them in particular has these morning rays hitting only a trunk and part of
foliage in the early morning hours. Rest of the elements in the landscape
are as if in shadow. I took that photograph with the intention of painting 
it one day. I should be painting it soon.

Thursday 28 January 2016

6" X 9" Soft pastel paintings - Landscapes

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

After a long break, I created two soft pastel paintings using my miscellaneous collection of
soft pastels. I worked with soft pastels for many months at a stretch in 2014 and the beginning 
of 2015. In the past few months I have been indulging in a lot of water colour artwork and 
the water colour medium is undoubtedly the most challenging one. 

With my water colour paintings I am still experimenting and exploring. However with my soft
pastels my technique is almost set. But I am open to trying out something new.  

Charcoals and soft pastels are both dry mediums and a lot in the painting happens as per your 
technique of holding the chalk and creating the strokes and blending. Over a period of time we 
all get used to a particular way of doing our artwork and that starts defining our individual style.
I complete my painting in two layers. In the first layer I usually do a little blending but in the 
second layer I normally use a lot of strokes and very little blending.

Apart from using soft pastels, I have also used Camel charcoal pencil at places to define a few
things such as rocks, crevices in mountains etc.

Soft pastel painting of landscape from Leh By Manju Panchal

Road to leh
Soft pastel painting on Canson paper
Size 6" X  9"

Soft pastel painting of Komic village from Spiti valley in Himachal by Manju Panchal

Komic village
Soft pastel painting on Canson paper
Size 6" X  9"

My pastel palette
Which has broken pastels from different brands.

Both the above paintings have been submitted in the DPW challenge

I have a Two days soft pastel workshop coming up soon and thats
another reason for getting into a few pastel works.

My works can also be viewed on my FACEBOOK page.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

On the way to Ladakh - a water colour painting

"Choose only one master - Nature" - Rembrandt

Leh Ladakh is beautiful. The landscape is stunning and the snow capped mountains
offer a breathtaking view. Nature has been one of the most inspiring factors in my paintings.

Ladakh is at the top of my list in "MUST VISIT" places. I have a few photographs which
have been given to me by a close friend Preeti Jhaveri. After having done a few study works
as seen in my last post, I decided to create a 4" X 5" water colour painting on Canson Vidalon paper

In fact one of the reasons for selecting this subject is to submit my work in the weekly
challenge of Daily Paint Works. This has been one of my most important "RESOLUTIONS"
of this year and I am glad that I finally am getting into something that I always wanted to.

For most of my study works I only depend on my Camel water colour tubes but for this
particular painting I decided to use my Winsor and Newton Cotman water colour tubes
which have been with me since may be last fifteen years or so. I am trying to use them up as
some of the colours are drying up.

water colour painting of a scene from leh Ladakh by Manju Panchal

On the way to Ladakh
Water colour painting on Canson Vidalon paper ( 425 gsm )
Size 4"X 5"

Next I am planning to use Arches cold pressed water colour paper which is one of
the most popular choices by many artists of the world.

Monday 25 January 2016

The snow capped mountains

" I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process." 
 Vincent Van Gogh

Created four more study works in water colour medium using my photographs from Himachal.
I have also used a few photographs from Leh Ladakh trip which were provided to me by a close
friend of mine. 

Most of the paintings as below are done with very limited colours. Since a major part of the 
landscape is covered with snow, the other colours that I use are ultramarine blue, crimson, 
burnt sienna, sap green, raw sienna and sometimes Indian red.

I keep creating these small works and then when I want to create a larger work then along with
the photograph I use these water colour sketches. After completing each one of them, I write a
few notes under each of these paintings, as a reminder to myself regarding some new colour 
that I used OR if I have made a mistake and how to rectify it when doing a bigger painting.
Most of the times it helps.

water colour study works of snow capped mountains by Manju Panchal

Water colour study sketches
of snow covered mountains
as seen in Himachal
and Leh-Ladakh

Saturday 23 January 2016

Getting back to water colour medium - study works

After a break, trying to get back to my water colour medium. So back to the routine of creating
the "STUDY WORKS" before actually creating the serious work. My small cartridge sketch 
book is of a great help.

A lot many artists use the cartridge sketch book to create their rough sketches before actually beginning the painting. It helps because on a cartridge sheet the paint dries up quickly and
if the painting process is planned out in the head before hand then it takes roughly fifteen to
twenty five minutes to create each of them sized 4" X 5".

Given below are four different landscape study works created in water colour medium.

Small water colour study works created by Manju Panchal

Water colour study works created on 
small cartridge sheets. ( In sketch book as below )

This sketch book is excellent for small study works and has forty sheets in it. Ideal for 
carrying when away from home. Initially I created my own sketch book by using
the hand made paper but now that I have this option I find it so convenient.
( At a cost of Rs 65/- only )

Presently I am on my third sketch book and have another three standby. I use this
book a lot. Apart from water colours I also do pencil and charcoal tonal study on
the cartridge sheets.

( This book is available at ART STATION, a shop in my vicinity. I have written
a post about this shop earlier )

Thursday 21 January 2016

Step by Step - The Exposed roots of a tree, a Charcoal sketching

During my last visit to Karnala Bird Sanctuary I made it a point to click some beautiful photographs of trees. All kinds of trees. I was particular about the composition and also was interested in the light source and shadows. From my previous experience and having created so many artworks in the last two years, I knew what exactly I was looking for.

The Charcoal sketching as below is with reference to one such tree which had these beautiful
exposed roots spreading out in different angles. The roots that keep the tree grounded.

Once again I have photographed the painting during its various stages of creation. This time
around I made use of my General charcoal pencil and made a few observations about it
as compared to Camel charcoal pencil.

General charcoal pencil is more soft, darker in tone/value and spreads more uniformly on the
paper. From now on I plan to use this pencil on a regular basis to create my charcoal works.

Step 1 Charcoal sketching of exposed roots of a tree by Manju Panchal

Step 2 - Charcoal sketching of exposed roots of a tree by Manju Panchal

Step 3 - Charcoal sketching of exposed roots of a tree by Manju Panchal

Charcoal and white soft pastel sketching on Canson Mi Teintes paper.
Size 5" X  7"

This sketching suddenly reminded me of a soft pastel painting which I did last year
with reference to my COORG photograph. This tree was part of the coffee plantation
near our homestay.

soft pastel painting of exposed roots by Manju Panchal

Soft pastel painting from past.

Monday 18 January 2016

Step by Step - Charcoal sketching of a tree my way

I had this image of a tree trunk on my ipad since very long and I finally decided to create a charcoal sketching of the same on FABRIANO ACADEMIA paper. It is an acid free paper and I already mentioned in my last post that I use it for both charcoal and pencil medium. It has an amazing texture and it adds to the character of the subject especially if I am creating a tree.

Also I made a deliberate attempt to remember photographing the images as my work progressed.

1.     The size of the paper is 5.5" X 7". I did a very rough outline of the tree trunk in the first 
        stage as shown below using a HB pencil.

step 1, creating a charcoal sketching of a tree by Manju Panchal

2. Next I used my charcoal tools and pencils to add the tonal values and the darkest tones to 
    establish depth. I also blended the strokes at places. The background was kept hazy and I 
    used a soft cloth to cover the distance. The foreground was similarly created by using
    cloth and blending tools.

step 2, creating a charcoal sketching of a tree by Manju Panchal

3. At this stage I used more of my charcoal pencils namely Camel charcoal pencil and
    General charcoal pencil to create the details like small outgrowths, barks and other 
    twisted shapes, bark strokes etc. I also added few strokes in foreground to create grassy 
    effect. The source of light is from the right direction so I used eraser and kneaded putty 
    to create the highlights.

step 3, creating a charcoal sketching of a tree by Manju Panchal

4. In the final stages I keep the sketch at a distance and evaluate. I keep it aside for a day 
    to look back at it the next day with FRESH MIND and EYES so I can redo the fine 
    touch up ie adding few details, the dark and light values, creating wild grassy growth 
    in foreground etc. At some point then I decide to call it an end as overworking, I have
   realised can cause more harm than good.

step 4, creating a charcoal sketching of a tree by Manju Panchal

The Knotted tree trunk
Charcoal sketching on Fabriano Academia paper
Size 5.5" X 7" 

I have a big collection of charcoal pencils of different brands which I picked up from different 
in an attempt to try it out for its darkness and quality. I have not had the time to try
all of them but among the ones that I have given a try, I find Camel , Primo and
pretty satisfying for my work. Very soon I will try and photograph
the other tools as well and write a post about it.

Friday 15 January 2016

The Papers I use for my charcoal drawings

"Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly discover the world." Frederick Franck

I have been using the charcoal medium for long number of years. Over a period of time and having experimented with a variety of surfaces, I finally zeroed in on a selected few which are now my favorites. It is not that these are the only papers that go best for charcoal medium but for my kind of work and technique I have personally found them good. Each artist has his/her personal likes and dislikes. One has to keep trying out something new.

The papers I use these days are
  • Canson C a grain paper. I came across this paper in 2004 and have used it for pencil as well as charcoal works. It has two sides and both sides have slightly different textures. I purchased my full size sheets from Singapore but this paper is easily available in India. Art Lounge at Churchgate keeps all different kinds of Canson papers.
          I use a 220 gsm sheet but 120 sheet is equally good in the beginning.

Charcoal sketching of Coorg landscape created on Canson C a grain paper by Manju Panchal

Charcoal work of Coorg landscape done on Canson C a grain paper
  • Fabriano Academia paper. After having used Canson paper I was looking out for some new paper when I came across Fabriano Academia pad of 50 sheets. ( 120 gsm ). It was different from Canson C a grain, nevertheless the sandy textured surface helped in creating beautiful charcoal strokes. I have been using this paper since the last four to five years and am pretty satisfied with the results.

Charcoal painting of a Coorg landscape on Fabriano Academia paper, By Manju Panchal

Charcoal sketching on Fabriano Academia paper
  • Strathmore paper. This paper was recommended to me by a friend who is into art and presently resides in USA. I was keen on using this paper so very recently got a Strathmore pad via a friend and after using it for my landscape works, realised that it is a definite yes for my kind of works. 
         The paper as shown in the image can be used for soft pastels as well but my soft pastel 
         paintings are generally done on toned paper. 

Charcoal sketching of a scene from Bharatpur by Manju Panchal

Charcoal sketching of a scene from Bharatpur created on
Strathmore paper.

So in all presently I use only these three surfaces for my charcoal works but at the same time I 
          I am open to new papers. You never know until you try. May be in future when my
 technique evolves I would want to shift some new surface, some new paper but until 
then probably I confine myself to these three brands.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

The dappled sunlight on the tree trunk

When the rays of sunlight hit the forest they filter gently through the leaves and the dense branches, creating patches of warm glow on the tree trunk. The light and contrast play creates beautiful abstract patterns on the tree and I have tried to capture the magical glow through my Charcoal sketching as given below.

I have used Canson Mi Teintes paper for the art work and the following tools,
  • Camel charcoal pencil
  • Conte a Paris white pastel pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Blending tool or tortillon
Canson paper has a sandy surface and charcoals and pastels work good on them.They are available in many different shades but somehow I have got stuck to using the dark grey one.

A charcoal sketching of a tree trunk by Manju Panchal

The dappled sunlight
Charcoal and white pastel sketching on Canson paper
Size 5" X 7"

My love and fascination for drawing and sketching trees continues to grow. It all started in the year 2014 when I was beginning to get into landscape paintings. I needed to study tree anatomy before getting to paint them. The best way to understand them was to do tonal study. I started it then and do it even now as I find it very relaxing. 

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Sketching out a tree using charcoal pencil.

We were at Karnala Bird Sanctuary recently and it was early morning hours. The sunlight falling on the tree trunks created great light and contrast. It was a good opportunity for photography. Using one of the photographs I created the charcoal and white pastel pencil sketch as below.

The paper I have used is Canson Mi Teintes and it has a sandy surface which helps to fix the charcoal and pastel to fix on it well.

The Sunlit tree
Charcoal and white pastel pencil sketch on Canson paper
Size 5" X 7"

I started the  "TREE STUDY" sketches somewhere in the beginning of year 2014. The intention was to get a better understanding of the tree anatomy. Later it became a passion. The more I create tree sketches, the more I love them. Each one is so different, with its own individuality.

Browsing through my earlier posts I came across initial tree sketches as given below.

Tree trunk study works done in the past.

Sunday 3 January 2016

By the sea - a water colour painting

Another seashore painting using water colour medium. This particular painting has been more of a study work in an attempt to get a better understanding of the wild weeds growing at the sandy dunes. I used a combination of fan brush, flat coarse brush and round brush.

In water colour painting, I have realised that it is all about the brushstrokes, the paper, the water content on the paper and the brush. It is a long series of experimenting. Every painting teaches something new.

For the shadows in the foliage I tried out new colour mix ie Prussian blue and orange which gives a beautiful dark shade.

For the sky I used graded wash using raw sienna and ultramarine blue.

Water colour painting of a seashore by Manju Panchal

By the sea
Water colour painting on hand made paper
Size 6"X 9"

My recent visit to Karnala Bird Sanctuary has inspired me to sketch my favourite subject "TREE " in charcoal medium. I love drawing and sketching a tree. Every tree has its individual character and personality. Trees fascinate me.

 It is a great way of doing tonal study and I enjoy creating it on a grey paper. So my next post will be a tree as seen at Karnala in the early morning hours. It will also provide me a break from my water colour medium which sometimes is so very necessary as it leads to a saturation point. 

Friday 1 January 2016

The sunlit seashore - a water colour painting.


The new year has finally begun and its time to look back and analyse and evaluate. I have completed two years of BLOGGING and I need to write a post on the series of works that I have created and the mediums that I have explored. Will write a detailed post about it soon.

As of now I am posting yet another of my seashore paintings inspired by FLORIDA. In this particular seascape I have added a lot of warmth and since the colours of the sky always reflect on the land I have used raw sienna in the foreground as the initial layer. The light that falls on the grasses creates beautiful shadows. The footprints on the sand too add a lot of drama in the scene. Without these elements the seascape would not look so interesting and magical.

Water colour painting of a sunlit seashore by Manju Panchal

The Sunlit seashore
Water colour painting on hand made paper
Size 6" X 9"

When I started with the series on water colour seashore paintings my plan was to do a few of them and then change the subject. However I have changed my mind and I may do a few more beaches before shifting to another subject because there is a lot to learn and with every painting my knowledge and experience is adding up. 

Normally when I get into a new medium I start with landscapes, ie seashores and mountainscapes. Its much later that I jump to creating forests as the trees, the bushes, the perspective and all the greens is very very challenging. 

I believe in "TAKING ONE STEP AT A TIME" and I am doing just that.
Enjoying my art as I move on in life.