Sunday 31 December 2017

At Matheran - A Charcoal drawing

“The environment is everything that is not me.” Albert Einstein

When we are out in the wild in the proximity of nature, we come across scenes which capture our attention instantly. The painting actually begins in the mind, the moment we set our eyes on a beautiful scenic landscape.The forest pathway as below was a little away from our Homestay in Matheran and being early morning the sun rays found its way through the dense foliage to create a beautiful contrast of light and shadow on the forest floor.

It is interesting to create a dense forest scene using any medium. With charcoal medium it is mostly about getting the values right. I used kneaded eraser and Staedtler eraser to create the highlights on the pathway and at other places where ever required. Creating thin branches come easy using using any sharp charcoal pencil.

A charcoal drawing of a scene from Matheran by Manju Panchal

At Matheran
A Charcoal drawing on Favini paper
Size 6"X 7"

I have been working with charcoal medium for very long and I am a little saturated. It is not that I do not love this medium but at times we all need a change. So I am shifting to water colour medium to start with. Will be doing some seascapes and landscapes. No matter what medium, I personally feel that every medium gives me same amount of joy. It is this journey of art which defines me and I am loving every moment of it.

The year 2017 has almost come to an end and I shall be posting soon about some "New year  resolutions" that I have in mind for 2018.

Thank you for browsing through my artworks. 

Thursday 28 December 2017

Drawing a forest scene in charcoal medium

"Art is a line around your thoughts." Gustav Klimt

We were at Karnala Bird Sanctuary when I came across this scene, a pathway leading deeper into the woods. The sun rays  lit up the trees and the foliage in the distance. The composition looked good to me and I decided to capture it on a paper using my interpretation.

I have used willow charcoal and charcoal powder to blend in the background and later used Camlin and other charcoal pencils to create a few details in the mid-ground. Creating a charcoal work is a  great way of doing value study which helps me a lot in creating a coloured painting later. As many other artists say, I too have strongly started believing in the fact that "Value is more important than colour."

Charcoal drawing of a scene from Karnala Bird Sanctuary, by Manju Panchal

Walk in the woods
A charcoal drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper
Size 6"X 8"

Half way through the painting, I suddenly remembered to click a photograph of the drawing while it was still in progress. So the image below shows the initial block in stage where in I have simplified the large shapes and created the basic foundation. I have used kneaded eraser to lift out the charcoal from the paper. 

Charcoal drawing - initial stages

Initial stage of the charcoal drawing
Using willow charcoal, Camlin charcoal pencil and kneaded eraser

 "Fog at the distance" and "Monsoon at Malshej Ghats" are my two other paintings which I have recently created on Canson Mi Teintes paper. This paper grips the charcoal powder pretty well on its sanded surface. I use the smoother side of the paper for my drawings. 

On the 22nd of December I was invited to judge one of the Fine art competitions at MOOD INDIGO Festival, hosted by IIT, Bombay. The event was titled "MONOSTROKES"  and the participants had to create a sketch using the different grades of graphite and charcoal pencils provided to them. 

MOOD INDIGO is the annual cultural festival of Mumbai and the largest in Asia. It attracts a whopping crowd of 1,39,000 students from more than 1700 colleges nationwide. It was an honor to judge this event and a great experience too. I am looking forward to attending more of such events in future too. 

Thank you for visiting my blog and browsing through my artworks.

Friday 22 December 2017

The Fence - A charcoal drawing

“As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight.” James McNeil Whistler

I am blogging today after a long number of days. Last week was busy as I was preparing for my "Charcoal drawing Workshop" which happened on the 17th of December at Art Station, Four Bunglows. I had in all nine participants in different age groups who were keen on knowing the basic techniques that I use to create my charcoal drawings.

On the 13th and 16th, I was invited to judge three different events in the "Fine Art" category, by Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. These competitions ie "La La Land""Wat-A-Waffle" and "Artathalon" were part of their annual "VAAYU FESTIVAL". Each competition was unique in its own way and it was a great experience to be a part of this event. The student committee who organised these events put in lot of efforts since last many months and I appreciated their efforts in making these events a success.

Today I am posting a charcoal drawing of a landscape which I completed last week using willow charcoal and my other basic charcoal drawing tools. It is a beautiful morning scene that I came across during my early morning walk, while we were at Coorg, also popularly known as Madikeri. It is a small hill station in Karnataka. The fence with the barbed wire running along the border had a great appeal and hence I wanted to keep that as my main focus in this drawing.

The fence, A Charcoal drawing of a landscape from Coorg ( Karnataka ) using willow charcoal

The Fence
Charcoal drawing on Cartridge paper
Size 6” X 8”

I have been working with charcoal medium for a long time now and getting very tempted to get back to my "Soft Pastels". Soft pastel being a dry medium is quite like charcoal medium and I have to more or less use similar technique of creating marks. I love pastels for its vibrant colours and if you are into this medium do browse through the works of EDGAR DEGAS, ( 1834 - 1917 ) a French artist who used pastels in many of his artworks.

Thanks for visiting my blog and browsing through my works.

Friday 15 December 2017

Step by step, A Landscape Charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

"To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong." Joseph Chilton Pearce

Zero Point
, ( 15,300 ft ) also known as Yume Samdong, is a small mountain village in North Sikkim. It is about 118 kms away from Lachung. Most tourists spend a night at Lachung before proceeding to Zero point in the morning. Zero point offers stunning views of snow clad mountains and soaring coniferous trees.

The charcoal drawing as seen below is inspired by my journey to Zero point. This is one of the scene that I came across while we were on the move and it appealed to me a lot. The mountains, the low lying clouds and the coniferous trees in the foreground, it was nothing short of a paradise. These are the moments in life when you truly are in awe of nature's beauty.

For this drawing, I decided to use "Willow charcoal" as a tool because it helps to create a great texture for the mountain slopes. Apart from willow charcoal, I have also used Camlin charcoal pencil and charcoal powder to create the other elements in the scene.

A charcoal drawing of a scene from Zero Point, North Sikkim. By Manju Panchal

At Zero Point
Charcoal drawing on Cartridge paper
Size 6"X 8" 

I decided to photograph the drawing in stages so that the viewers can see the simple techniques that I have followed in order to complete this artwork.

Step by step charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

Step 1. Created a faint outline and then used willow charcoal
for the background mountains.

Step by step charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

Step 2. Additional strokes using willow charcoal to block in
 the darker values in the foreground.

Step by step charcoal drawing using willow charcoal

Step 3. Lifted out clouds in the distance using kneaded eraser
and used charcoal pencil in the foreground to
to create the coniferous trees and foliage.

In the final steps I added details where ever necessary. In conclusion I have used more of willow charcoal in this artwork and the more I use it the more I discover the advantages of using this tool in combination with the others. Exploring each tool by using it frequently in the artworks, helps to get a better understanding about it. Once you get to know it, you can use it at the right place and create marks that make all the difference. 

VAAYU, the annual festival of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management studies ( NMIMS ) is being held from 13th to the 17th of December, 2017. It was an honor to be invited as a judge for their event in Fine Art Category, titled "La La Land" on the 13th of December. The competition was unique as it was based on music and art combined together. The students were also required to sculpt a candle. It was a very innovative theme and I enjoyed being there and it was a pleasure to judge the participants. 

If you wish to know more about the events being held in NMIMS, you can visit their Facebook page.

Thank you for visiting my blog and browsing through my artworks.

Monday 11 December 2017

Portrait of a woman from North Sikkim

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

Thangu is a beautiful small village in North Sikkim and I had the opportunity to be there while we were on our way to Gurudongmar Lake. Most tourists stop here for breakfast before proceeding ahead. The lady who owned the restaurant had very pretty features and as an artist I felt the desire to ask her permission to photograph her so that I could create her portraits.

She spoke very little, was immersed in her thoughts and I was not sure if she was going to like the idea of photographing her. However to my surprise she happily gave her consent and I went clicking her photographs from different angles so as to get the best composition. It was a sunny morning, so I could capture the light and shadows on the face which makes it interesting to understand the face anatomy while drawing it.

It was such a pleasure to meet her and know her. Travelling to remote places like Thangu introduces us to people, their life and culture and additionally we get the opportunity to see parts of our own country which are so heavenly. I have posted a few photographs of Thangu in an earlier post. 

Charcoal portrait drawing on toned paper by Manju Panchal

Inner peace
Portrait drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper
size 6" X 8"

Of all the mediums I do, which one do I love doing the most?. I am asked this question very frequently by my friends and students. I find it very difficult to answer this because I truly and undoubtedly enjoy working with all the mediums. 

When I start off with charcoal, I get totally immersed in it with passion. It is the same with every medium that I am involved with. In conclusion, I feel one must do what one loves and let the passion flow on paper. Art should not have any limitations. End of the day it should make you happy.

If you wish to see all my paintings in gallery format, you can visit my INSTAGRAM account.
Thank you for visiting my blog.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Making a mark - Using willow charcoal

"If I create from the heart nearly everything works: if from the head almost nothing."
 Marc Chagall

I have a big data bank of photographs and study sketches as a reference but at times when I am looking out to create a particular subject I never seem to have one in your collection. After doing my last foggy landscape I got interested in creating yet another one. So I decided to browse through PIXABAY which has a big collection of photographs and they are free for commercial use.

Today's charcoal drawing is with reference to a foggy landscape photograph taken by Thomas B, Deutschland. I am grateful to him for having shared his works on Pixabay so that artists like me can use them as a study reference. This scene gave me the opportunity to work on the background trees and bushes with lost edges, fog in the distance, reflections in the water and branches drooping low in the foreground. I have used charcoal pencil and willow charcoal to create the dark leaves and branches which pushed the background in the distance creating depth.

A charcoal drawing is all about "Mark making techniques". We all hold the a pencil in a different way, creating strokes and marks that we feel is appropriate for a particular element. For instance, in charcoal drawing as below I have used "Willow charcoal" extensively. I used its tip to create the foliage, whereas for the background I used it sideways. I am creating marks to convey the shape, the rhythm and the energy in the elements in the scene. This is my way of working with the willow charcoal and being self taught, I do not follow any particular rule. Tomorrow I may change my style a bit if I find it better. This the journey of art and I am enjoying every moment of it.

A charcoal drawing of a foggy landscape on cartridge paper. By Manju Panchal

The Haze
Charcoal drawing on Cartridge paper
Size 6" X 8.5"

In my next charcoal drawing, I plan to use the General's Compressed charcoal which helps create a very dark black and is great to create textures while using sideways.

Thank you all visiting my blog and keep browsing for more charcoal works that I will be posting soon.

Friday 8 December 2017

Fog at the distance - A charcoal drawing

"Without good drawing, the foundation of a painting will collapse." Ken Danby

 Today's post is a charcoal drawing of a landscape with fog in the distance and a fence running along in the foreground. The inspiration for this drawing has come from a photograph by Garry Hayes, a geologist who writes a very informative blog  I go through his blog frequently and enjoy reading the contents.

I have used Camlin pencil, charcoal powder and willow charcoal to create this artwork. Creating the fog using the different tools was an interesting experience. What I enjoy more than the drawing is the exploring and experimenting that enables me to discover new techniques to handle different elements in a landscape. For example in this painting I needed to create the grass and I wanted a little texture in the foreground. So I used the charcoal powder, the willow charcoal and after a little blending created the strokes of grass. It worked well.

Sharing a beautiful poem that I came across on "The Fog" by Carl Sandberg

The fog comes 
On little cat feet

It sits looking 
Over harbour and city
On silent haunches 
and then moves on

Carl Sandberg

A charcoal drawing of a foggy landscape by Manju Panchal

Fog at the distance 
Charcoal drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper 
Size 5” X 7”

My charcoal tool box is a collection of miscellaneous pencils of different brands which I have been purchasing for the last many years. When you enter an art store and come across something new and different you cannot resist buying it. Many a times it has happened that I have gone and purchased a pencil after reading a whole lot of reviews on the net and yet to my disappointment discovered that it is does not work for my kind of technique. Does this discourage me from buying more pencils? Not at all. I do that even today. It is a small investment compared to the happiness that I achieve by experimenting and exploring which in turn helps me to learn a little on a daily basis.

Charcoal tools used for charcoal drawing by Manju Panchal

Frequently used charcoal tools
in my charcoal tool box.

Thank you for browsing through my blog and if you wish to attend my Charcoal drawing workshop, you can register by sending a mail at

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Charcoal drawing on Canson Mi Teintes paper

"Drawing is the artist's most direct and spontaneous expression. A species of writing; it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality." Edgar Degas

Beautiful quote by Edgar Degas. If you are into soft pastels, do browse through his works which are very very inspiring.

Charcoal medium continues to be one of my favorite till date. When I initially began working in charcoal, all I used was a charcoal pencil, charcoal powder and a normal eraser. Today I am experimenting and exploring with so many different tools and my technique has evolved.

With my Charcoal workshop coming up at Art Station, Andheri west, I am once again having the opportunity to experiment and explore by creating some new "study works" on different subjects, mainly landscapes. Apart from landscapes, I will be demonstrating a few "Still life drawings" too.

Today's post is a charcoal drawing on Canson Mi Teintes white paper. The scene is from Malshej Ghats, Maharashtra. The place is worth visiting in monsoon as the whole landscape transforms into something unimaginable. I got to see some stunning views of the mountains, dramatic cloudy skies, waterfalls and lush greenery all around.

Charcoal drawing of a landscape from Malshej Ghat, Maharashtra by Indian artist Manju Panchal

Monsoon at Malshej Ghats
Charcoal drawing on Canson MT paper
Size 5" X 7"

White Canson Mi Teintes paper is a recent introduction to my list of papers for charcoal drawing. I am loving its smooth textured surface which works well for charcoal medium. Moreover it is acid free and without optical brightness additives.

If you wish to know more about the "List of papers" that I use for my charcoal drawings, you can CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting my blog and browsing through my artworks.

Monday 4 December 2017

Water colour painting on Arches cold pressed paper

"The only time I feel alive is when I'm painting." Vincent Van Gogh

I am sure every artist will agree with the above quote. If you are passionate about painting, you will realize what it is like to paint a little everyday. It brings a lot of joy and end of the day when you look at your work, no matter how small or big, it feels absolutely great. Then you gear up for yet another day of painting and begin your plans as to what to create next?

Pangong Lake, also known as Pangong Tso is situated in the Himalayas, at 14,270 ft above sea level. It is about four to five hours journey from Leh. This stunning lake which keeps changing its colours is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the country. I am yet to go there but am so fascinated with this heavenly place that when friends send me photographs, I cannot resist painting it. 

My today's painting is with reference to a photograph sent by a student and I am grateful to her for the same. I have used Arches Cold pressed paper and a combination of both Winsor and Newton and Camlin water colour tubes. I am beginning to love this paper as it stays wet for long and that enables me to add colours without the fear of having hard edges. 

A water colour painting of Pangong Lake by Manju Panchal

Water colour painting on Arches CP paper
Size 6.5"X 8.5"

If you have been regularly browsing through my blog you will know that I have still not zeroed in on the right paper for my water colour artworks. I have definitely shortlisted a few good ones and Arches is one of them. Selection of a paper is a very personal choice for every artist. Most papers are good but its just that each one of us find our comfort level in some particular brand.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am presently working on a series of few charcoal landscapes as my one day "Charcoal drawing workshop" is coming up soon at Art Station, Andheri west. Will post them soon. If you are interested in attending you can drop me a mail at

Thank you for browsing through my artworks.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Portrait study work on Canson Mi Teintes paper

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all." 

Today I am posting a small quick "Portrait study" of a pretty woman I met at Thangu, where we halted to have breakfast before moving towards Gurudongmar Lake. She was friendly with a pleasant personality. I interacted with her and took her photographs from different angles. Before starting her front face profile I decided to do a quick study of the side face using minimum brush strokes.

For my charcoal and white pencil portraits I have more or less shortlisted two papers. The Strathmore gray toned paper and Canson MT series. For my present work I have used Canson paper. Both these papers are available on

Portrait study of a woman from Thangu, North Sikkim, on Canson Mi Teintes paper

Portrait study of a woman from Thangu, North Sikkim
on Canson Mi Teintes paper
Size 5" X 7"

This portrait study was more about getting to know her features and I have not spent much time getting into the details. I am almost done with another of her portraits and shall be posting it soon.

Presently I am also busy doing some charcoal landscape works in preparation for my upcoming one day Charcoal drawing and sketching workshop on the 17th of December at Art Station, Andheri west.

Thank you for browsing through my artworks.

Saturday 2 December 2017

Travel photography - Thangu, North Sikkim

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." Albert Einstein

Nature inspires me to paint. When I travel, it is not always possible to create study works or quick sketches as we are constantly on the move. Therefore I photograph the scenes which appeal to me, so that I can refer to it later some day and create beautiful memories by painting them in different mediums. I try to get the best composition possible but if not then I edit the photographs just before I begin my artwork. 

Posted below are a few photographs which we clicked while we were at Thangu. Thangu is a small beautiful village which is about two hours drive from Lachen in North Sikkim.It is situated at a n altitude of 13,500 ft above sea level and most tourists halt here for breakfast and to get acclimatized to the change of altitude before proceeding to Gurudongmar Lake.  From here on to Gurudongmar Lake the altitude increases to 17,800 ft in a short span of three hours. The roads are bad but the beauty of the landscape hypnotizes you. I would love to visit North Sikkim yet again.

Photograph taken at Thangu, North Sikkim

At Thangu, North Sikkim
The road further leads to Gurudongmar Lake

Photograph taken at Thangu, North Sikkim by Manju Panchal

The landscape at Thangu, North Sikkim

Photograph taken at Thangu, North Sikkim by Manju Panchal

A cloudy sky at Thangu, North Sikkim

Local women at Thangu, North Sikkim

Local women basking in the sun

My database of photographs from different places is growing and I am having fun painting these beautiful places and people. I have not had the opportunity to paint a landscape from Thangu. However I am almost done with a portrait of the woman as above with the scarf. I photographed her from different angles, had a small chat with her and learnt about her life in general. Time was short and it was pleasure to interact with her.

Have you been to North Sikkim? If yes I would love to hear from you and do leave in your comments. Thanks for visiting my blog.