Wednesday 29 June 2016

The crystal clear waters of Phuket and Phi Phi Leh - Few photographs

"To me photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an
ordinary place. I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with
the way you see them." Elliott Erwett

When I am travelling, it is not always possible to create a sketch or a painting on the spot. So
I have to rely a lot on the photographs that I capture. I try to focus on the scenes which I feel
can help me create some beautiful paintings of the pristine nature around me.  

Later when I am at home and if the photograph is not up to my satisfaction, I edit it a bit
removing a few elements, adjusting the horizon etc. I love photography but it is a big field in
itself and I am still learning. I use a digital camera as well as a new Canon 7D. Manual
photography is new to me and quite challenging, therefore as and when I get time I refer to
Photography manuals to get a better understanding of it.
Posting a few photographs as taken by me while we were on our recent tour to Phuket,
Phi Phi Leh and other islands closeby. The crystal clear water, its ever changing colours,
is all so captivating.

Photograph of rocks submerged in water at Bamboo island, by Manju Panchal

At Bamboo island 
The calm waters and the submerged rocks.

Photograph of rocks submerged in water at Rawai beach ( Phuket ) , by Manju Panchal

At Rawai beach at Phuket
The sparkling still waters

Photograph of seascape at Bamboo island ( Thailand ) , by Manju Panchal

At Bamboo island

Photograph of limestone cliffs at Phi Phi Leh by Manju Panchal

Around Phi Phi Leh
The colour of the water reflecting back at the rocks above.

I have started new works using the soft pastel medium and they are in progress. Will post them as 
soon as I complete them. In the meantime I have also started uploading a few of my works
on Deviant art as it will allow some of my paintings to be seen together in a Gallery format which
is not possible on the blog.

Monday 27 June 2016

Creating and storing Thumbnail sketches

"Good drawing forms the 'bones' on which a strong painting hangs." Chris Bingle

My blogging has taken a backseat. I am busy creating several thumbnail sketches or studyworks
so that I can start a fresh series of "ARTWORKS". Posting individual sketch can be a tedious task.
Therefore I group some of them together after editing, which makes blogging more convenient.

As I mentioned in my previous post, only some of my study sketches get converted into serious
artwork. In the sketches below there are scenes from Iceland, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Panchgani and Phi Phi Leh. 

Four out of six of these painting have appealed to me with respect to composition and colours so I may go ahead and paint them soon on black Canson Mi Teintes paper.

Thumbnail sketches of landscapes created on Canson paper, By Manju Panchal

Thumbnail sketches or Study sketches of Landscapes
on Canson Mi Teintes paper
Size 3.5" X 4.5"

I have been painting for several years now and "Thumbnail sketches" was not part of my routine until the year 2014. Slowly and steadily as I worked my way up the ladder, I realised that spending
a few minutes at creating a preliminary sketch takes care of lot of issues and helps the
final art piece to reach its desired stage. In other words nine out of my ten works reach completion.

Storing thumbnail sketches was a big concern in the beginning. So I came up with the idea of
using my old "Photo Albums". It worked really well for me.

Old Photo Albums
for storing Thumbnail sketches.

After completing the sketch I normally lift the polythene sheet carefully and then slide the 
painting inside from the open side. As the sketch is created in soft pastels, there is always a 
chance of its getting smudged, however the smudging is negligible and it can be easily
corrected if required. 

I have posted below two images of some of my initial study works in 2014when I was deeply 
into landscape study. It is a pleasure at times to go through some of the past works. 

Old Photo Albums, now used for storing
my Thumbnail sketches created in
Soft pastel medium.

Thanks for visiting my blog and browsing through my works. Do leave a comment to let me know how you store your artworks?

Thursday 23 June 2016

Thumbnail sketches - study works for future paintings

After having done a couple of soft pastel paintings on different subjects, it is time to shortlist
the next few paintings to be done. For me it all starts with "Thumbnail sketches". These days I
create a couple of them after a careful analysis with respect to composition, colours and values.
Once my thumbnails are done, I pin them up on the flannel board next to my workplace so that
I can have a clear view of them all day along.

After several views, I start the preliminary painting process in the mind itself. It's like I am working on the different possible techniques which I can apply to go ahead with a particular painting. All of my thumbnail sketches do not necessarily get converted into the final art piece. It's only a selected few. The ones that start speaking to me and I can feel the connection.

Given below is the collective image of three different sketches that I just completed using the soft pastel medium. All are "Sea based subjects" my all time favorite.

Thumbnail sketches 
created on Canson Mi Teintes paper.
Size 4" X 5"

I am posting an old image which shows how my ART BOARD looks like with a display of all
my thumbnail sketches. Many of the sketches as in the board below finally saw the light of day
as I converted them into bigger pieces of artwork. 

Creating thumbnail sketches is a lot of fun work as I do them very freely and loose manner.
So its done without any fear or inhibition and many a times a small little work looks like a 
masterpiece to me and I take a quick decision to refer to it and go ahead with my bigger artwork.
I also call these small works as "Study works" as they help me to learn a lot. It is an exercise
in "Experimentation" wherein I get to evolve my technique by trying out new ideas and theories.

I have done several posts on "THUMBNAIL SKETCHES" and to view all of them you can
go to the search column at the right column of the BLOG.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Trying out Daler Rowney willow charcoal

The charcoal sketching as below is a small "Study work" that I created recently to check out a
new "Paper" and a new set of willow charcoal set from "Daler Rowney". I purchased the set
with medium sized willow charcoal sticks. My present brand which is from China is fairly good
but it smudges a lot and is too smooth on the paper.

Since I was going to try out a new charcoal tool I also remembered having purchased a set of
Brustro Drawing and Sketching papers during "SALE" which was lying unused in my
cupboard. Therefore I used this new paper, Daler Rowney charcoal accompanied by charcoal
powder and my regular Charcoal pencil to create this simple beach scene from Bamboo island,

In conclusion, I enjoyed using this new brand of willow charcoal. It is coarse, does not smudge
heavily, creates bold strokes and is definitely helpful to create initial study works to understand
the value gradation in a scene.

Charcoal sketching study work of a beach from Bamboo island, By Manju Panchal

Charcoal sketching on Brustro drawing and sketching paper
Size 4.5" X 5.5"

Daler Rowney willow charcoal ( medium sized sticks )

Daler Rowney Medium sized willow charcoal sticks

The willow charcoal can be used to create many different types of strokes as can be seen from the
image below. I personally like the charcoal medium a lot and therefore adding on new products in
my list of tools is always a welcome change.

Daler Rowney willow charcoals - strokes created by it.

A small piece of Daler Rowney willow charcoal and 
some strokes that can be created by using it.

Brustro drawing and sketching pad, Acid free paper

Brustro Drawing and Sketching pad

The Brustro Sketching and drawing paper is from Italy. It is a 200 gsm acid free paper and I have 
loved the overall effect of charcoal on this paper. I am definitely going to try out a few more
sketches on this paper. It is available on Amazon.

Beautiful quote.
"Talent is cheap: dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life." Irving Stone

Monday 13 June 2016

The Limestone cliffs of Phi Phi Leh

The plan was to complete my soft pastel painting of "Niagara Falls" which I started a few days
back. However I changed my decision as I felt I needed a little more "Analyzing and Planning"
in order to handle certain elements in the painting.

Therefore I went ahead and completed another of my "Phi Phi Leh" series art work. I 
encountered this scene while touring the island in the Long Tail Boat. At one particular turn,
this scene was so amazingly beautiful that I immediately captured it on my mobile. 

The image quality on the mobile did not have much clarity but since I was there and had seen and 
observed it all, I applied my own interpretation and creativity to recreate this scene on Canson Mi 
Teintes paper. The sparkling aquamarine waters and the tall limestone cliffs added so much
beauty to the atmosphere.

The Limestone Cliffs
Soft Pastel painting on Canson paper
Size 6.5" X 8.5"

Before I started the above painting I created a small "Thumbnail sketch" Canson paper.
A thumbnail sketch works like a guideline to help me follow a particular colour pattern, 
the composition, form and shape etc. I do make changes as and when necessary. Creating a 
"Study work" before proceeding with the actual artwork has now become a habit with me and
it helps a lot as I rarely have to discard a painting midway.

Thumbnail sketching of a scene from Phi Phi Leh, by Manju Panchal

Thumbnail sketch
Size 3.5" X 4.5"

Ending with some beautiful words on nature, 

"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery - air, mountain, trees, people. I thought,
"This is what is to be happy."  Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar       Courtesy

I get inspired by beautifully written quotes and thoughts so I share them on the blog. Some days
we are all self motivated and on other days we look for inspiration.

I am conducting a two days workshop in charcoal as well as soft pastel medium in the last week
of this month ie June 2016. To read more about it CLICK HERE.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Organising my Soft Pastel Palette

Since I am back to soft pastel works, I decided to organise my palette which has got into a mess lately. Over a period of time, the broken pieces get all mixed up and the colours cannot be distinguished clearly as the pastel dust catches on the surface of each other. The first thing that 
it requires urgently is a major "CLEAN UP". 

Given below are two images of my "Soft pastel palette arrangement" that I used earlier. Top
image shows the pastels in the "DUSTY" state. Second image shows the "Cleaned up" Palette.

Soft Pastel palette ( In a dusty state ) by Manju Panchal

Soft Pastel Palette
with broken pastels from MUNGYO, GALLERY

Just cleaned up soft pastel palette by Manju Panchal

After clean up.

To read about HOW I CLEAN THE SOFT PASTELS , CLICK HERE I have already posted about it earlier in detail.

After cleaning up the pastels by shaking it all up ( one set of colours at a time ) in a jar of rice, I decided to rearrange my pastels in three different cardboard boxes. I separated out the blues, greens and the rest of the colours. I took this decision as I use a lots of greens and blues in my landscapes and keeping them grouped together in two small cardboard boxes helps in better judgement and
I am able to find the appropriate colour more easily.

Therefore my new "Soft pastel palette" looks like the image below. Organizing my palette this way
is definitely helping me and whenever I am not painting, I keep it covered with a soft cloth to 
avoid dust collecting over it.

Organising the soft pastel palette in three different sections. By Manju Panchal

New Arrangement of Soft Pastel Palette.

This arrangement is proving to be more convenient. Sometimes I use a very limited set of colours.
In that case I select the required pastels and place it in a new container and it works like a 
"Limited Palette" for me. A limited palette painting helps avoid a lot of confusion as all the 
colours required are right in the front and there are less chances of overuse of colours which otherwise causes "MUDDY" effect.

A Limited Pastel Palette by Manju Panchal

A Limited Palette.

Therefore my new arrangement of pastels in three different boxes is working out fine right now.
However after a couple of artworks I know from my experience that the pastels may not go back to their original specified location. In a state of excitement and getting too involved with the painting,
the pastels go on the table and also get jumbled up with in the boxes too. Therefore I am prepared 
to clean it up every once in a while because when they are all in a dusty state, it puts you off and
you are forced to restart the "CLEAN UP". 

Ending this post with a beautiful quote by Martin Luther King Jr

"If you can't fly, then run,
 If you can't run, then walk,
 If you can't walk, then crawl,
 But whatever you do, 
You have to keep moving forward."

Thursday 9 June 2016

The Golden waterfall from Iceland - A soft pastel painting.

I am posting my third soft pastel painting in "Iceland" series and as I mentioned earlier I am
creating them with reference to photographs taken by my husband while he was there. The 
painting is another view of Gullfoss waterfall depicting the beauty of nature and the force 
with which it flows ahead, a never ending journey.

The photograph was pretty dull as it was shot on a rainy day, so I went through couple of video's 
to get an idea about the colours to be filled in. I created two different thumbnail sketches before starting this one yet I realised that the perspective in this painting was a bit challenging. Looks 
like a three point perspective. Nevertheless I just about managed to complete it and will have to 
do my "STUDY" on three point perspective.

Instead of using my regular black paper I decided to go with the orange Canson Mi Teintes 
paper. The colour of the paper can be seen through at places but it does not bother me any more.
It adds to a little warmth. 

Original soft pastel painting of Gulfoss waterfall in Iceland, By Manju Panchal

The Golden Waterfall
Soft pastel painting on Canson paper
Size 8.5" X 10" 

To view my previous work on Gullfoss CLICK here. Waterfall is a new subject to me and I
am working on it, one step at a time. I have started a new painting inspired by "Niagara Falls".

I paint what I love and a painting well completed is my biggest reward. Some paintings happen 
in a short span of time and others take long, testing your patience. In haste, I have ruined
many paintings in the past. End of the day it feels good I know I have created something
meaningful on a blank piece of paper. It is like a story unfolding itself. 

My paintings can also be viewed on my FACEBOOK page. If you like my works please share.

Monday 6 June 2016

Maya Bay ( Phi Phi Leh )

Maya Bay is a stunningly beautiful bay that is sheltered by 100 meter cliffs on all three sides. The
whole bay is one big reef. It is part of Phi Phi Leh ( Thailand ). "The Beach" was filmed here in
1999 which has increased its popularity.

I have used charcoal medium to recreate this scene as I saw it while on our recent Phi Phi Leh tour.
The beach was crowded, but I wanted to sketch it with just one boat entering the Bay ( Under the
cliffs on the left ). I have also added a two people on the left of the beach to understand the relative
size of the cliffs in comparison. This sketching is more of a study work or preliminary work and
I have done it to understand the value scale. I will be creating a soft pastel painting of this Bay
very soon referring to a different view.

Charcoal sketching of Maya Bay on Fabriano paper by Manju Panchal

Maya Bay ( Phi Phi Leh )
Charcoal sketching on Fabriano Academia paper.
Size 6" X 8"

The map below shows the location of Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don. Most tourists stay at Phi Phi Don
and go to Phi Phi Leh by a long tail boat or a speedboat. Phi Phi Leh is uninhabited, beautiful and 
nothing short of a paradise.

Maya Bay map ( Phi Phi Leh )

I have used a sheet from the Fabriano pad as below. This pad has 50 sheets sized 6" X 8" and 120 gsm. It has a textured surface and charcoal works well on this paper. I have created a post earlier on
the papers I use for charcoal sketching and you can CLICK here to view it.

Fabriano Academia 120gsm, 50 sheets in pad ( for charcoal sketching )

Fabriano Sketching pad.


"The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless."
Jean Jaques Rousseau

Sunday 5 June 2016

World Environment day June 6

World Environment Day is observed every year on June 5 to raise global awareness to take
positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth. It is run by the United
Nations Environment Programme UNEP.( Courtesy : Wikipedia )

My art is inspired a lot by the beauty of nature. I try to capture what I see, on paper using
different mediums. Today on this day I am posting a few images which convey a lot to us
humans about the significance of the Environment around us.

All images as above Courtesy : Google.

When I am not painting, I get into reading. Browsing through the net, reading quotations,
getting inspired. I also follow works of lot of different artists. There are some dedicated art
enthusiasts who paint on a daily basis. I try that but it does not always happen. But I am
grateful that I am getting to do what I love most ie Draw, Sketch and Paint. 

My charcoal sketching of Maya Bay should be completing today and I will post it soon.
Thanks for browsing through my works.

Thursday 2 June 2016

Forest sketching on toned paper

Working on a toned paper gives me an opportunity to explore, experiment and get a better
understanding of the values in a particular scene.

In the sketching as below, the beige colour of the paper became my mid value background
for this forest scene. For the dark values in the trees and foliage area I have used different
charcoal pencils. The lighter values are created using white pastel pencils. I have also used
white soft pastel chalk in the sky towards the end.

This is my first landscape forest sketching on toned paper. The choice of paper is a very
important decision for me as it affects the outcome of my painting. I have used Canson Mi
Teintes paper ( It comes in many different colours )

Since it is my first such work on toned paper, I just did the basics and did not get into too
many details. For my next similar work I will try and select a simple composition but I do want
to try again as this has been a lot of fun.

The pathway in the forest
charcoal and white pastel pencil sketching on Canson paper
Size 6" X 7.5"

"Painting is very easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do." Edgar Degas

My next painting in progress is in charcoal medium and the subject is " Maya Bay" from 
Phi Phi Leh. It is an exceptionally beautiful bay surrounded by 100 metre high cliffs on three

Wednesday 1 June 2016

5" X 6.5" Small value study of a landscape, using white pastel pencil.

After having created a landscape with snow mountains, ( As in my last post ), I got interested
in doing another one. However this time I decided to use a small piece of Strathmore 400 series.

The white pastel pencils I used are from General, Conte and Cretacolour. The black colour of
the paper acts as the darkest value in this landscape sketch.Towards the end I have used a little of
white soft pastel chalk from Kohinoor to create the brightest bright of values.

Small value study work
Size 5" X 6.5"
White pastel pencil on Strathmore 400 series ( Black paper )

" I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing."  Vincent Van Gogh

I truly enjoy drawing and sketching. Be it charcoal on white paper or pastel pencils on toned
paper, it gives me immense satisfaction. Until some years back I was mostly creating charcoal
and pencil sketches on white paper. It's only recently that I have started exploring the other
options like working on coloured papers ( Mainly Canson Mi Teintes ).

I have also started another art work ie a Forest scene on beige coloured Canson 
paper, using only charcoal pencil and white pastel pencil. The work is in progress and I will be posting it as soon as it completes.