Wednesday 28 April 2021

Watercolor thumbnail sketch to simplify the painting process

It is not the ship so much as the skilful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.” George William Curtis

Water color medium by itself is challenging medium as compared to others. Therefore before attempting the final painting, I love to explore the different possibilities by doing small “Thumbnail sketch” or “Preliminary Study”

The subject “Cargo Ship” is a little out of my comfort zone and moreover it also involves the understanding of ship structure in general. Therefore, I felt it appropriate to create the two “Thumbnail sketches” as below to visualise the final painting. It also helps me to simplify a very complicated painting and most importantly it is a great mental warm up exercise.

 Both works are created on Chitrapat handmade paper which is made of 100% cotton fibreand very economical too. CLICK HERE to know more about this paper.

For both the paintings as shown below I have used a limited palette of Camlin Artists water color tubes namely

1. Ultramarine Blue

2. Raw Sienna

3. Burnt Sienna

4. Light red

5. Permanent orange

6. Chinese white ( for highlights )

Watercolor painting of Cargo ship at sea, by Manju Panchal

Cargo vessel out at sea
A thumbnail sketch on Chitrapat handmade paper 
Size 2.5” X 4”

A water colour painting of cargo ship at port, on Chitrapat handmade paper

A Bulk Carrier at the port
A thumbnail sketch on Chitrapat handmade paper 
Size 3” X 4.5”

Box Palette with Camlin Artists water colour tubes

My Palette with Camlin Artists water
Colour tubes which I normally use for 
Thumbnail sketches

Chitrapat handmade paper pad
Purchased online from MAXA-ENTERPRISES 

During my initial years of painting I was unaware of the advantages of creating thumbnail sketches/preliminary studies. As I progressed in my journey I got inspired by a lot many experienced artists who advised on following this routine in order to plan and research an artwork beforehand. It made a lot of sense to me and initially it was not easy to adapt to this routine as this involved additional effort of creating a complete painting in a small size. Some of my initial attempts were pretty disappointing but as time progressed, I got more comfortable in creating small thumbnail works which are either 3” X 4” OR 4” X 5.5”.

Sometimes I feel that my thumbnail works which are done so spontaneously, without any fear of getting wrong, have that freshness and energy in them which sometimes goes lacking in the larger version of the same artwork. 

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Thank you for browsing through my artworks and I appreciate your support in my art journey.

Sunday 25 April 2021

Sparrow - A Graphite drawing on Strathmore gray toned paper

 “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its wings”

If you are following me on INSTAGRAM , you probably must have already gone through my recent graphite drawings on “Sparrow series”. ( I have to admit that I have been more regular on my Instagram as compared to my blogging. I wish I could dedicate more time to writing in my blog. )

After having done watercolor medium for months, I suddenly felt the need to take a break and so decided to get back to my toned paper drawing and sketching. As far as stationery is concerned, I have enough of art materials for every possible medium. ( Over a period of time I have accumulated a whole lot of pencils, papers, paints and brushes and it helps because in COVID situations it is not easy to procure the desired materials easily. )

When it comes to toned paper, the two papers that I absolutely love and recommend to everyone are

1. Strathmore toned paper ( Gray and Tan shade )

2. Canson Mi Teintes paper ( Beige and Gray shade )

For my “Sparrow series” I decided to go with Strathmore gray toned paper as I wanted to create soft strokes of graphite and white pastel pencil. The smooth textured surface of the paper, I felt was ideal for these drawings.

Graphite drawing of a sparrow on Strathmore gray toned paper

“Just Relaxing”
Graphite/ Charcoal drawing on Strathmore Gray toned paper
Size 4” X 5.5”

Graphite drawing of a sparrow on Strathmore gray toned paper

“Sparrow on the tree”
Graphite drawing on Strathmore Gray Toned paper
Size 4” X 5.5”


The Strathmore pad with
Gray toned papers
Purchased from Art Lounge

These days I try to limit myself to using minimum art stationery in order to keep my working process simple. In both the above drawings I have used 3B, 6B and 9B graphite pencils and Creatacolor and General white pastel pencil

Pencils used 1. General white pastel pencil
2. Cretacolour white pastel pencil
3. Camlin 3B graphite pencil
4. Camlin 6B graphite pencil
5. Camlin 10 B graphite

In addition to the above, I also keep a simple pen pencil which I normally use in the beginning to create a very faint outline of the subject. If you are a beginner, my suggestion is to practise using simple materials available at home and once you feel you enjoy working on toned paper then go ahead and add a few products. When I first got into toned paper artworks, I remember using simple handmade coloured papers with rough surface and it cost me just about 20 to 30 Indian Rupees a sheet. CLICK HERE  to browse through my initial experimental works on handmade paper.

Thanks for visiting my blog and if you wish to purchase any of my original artworks, you can mail me at and I shall get back to you as soon as possible.