Having first studied art at the Government School of Art, Aurangabad, he completed his B.F.A. from the Sir J.J Institute of Applied Arts- Mumbai. He then joined the animation Section of the Film Division. The union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting awarded him for his ink and pen portraits in 1991. He was also awarded for Creative Contribution at the 38th National Film Festival.
Sonavane made his mark as a painter in 1992 with his exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery. He has won applause for his socially oriented artwork, a quality very much visible even in his new works today. “The colors I used hark back to Renaissance era and are evocative, as they are sensuous. I play with the use of light on the canvas.” He manipulates textures to an extent, where they appear quite diffused,” – Vishnu Sonavane.