01| How Is Elephant Art Made?
The elephant art studio
Each elephant painting is an original. We do not make prints.
An easel similar to the type you would use in your studio or at home is placed out in the open where the artist has plenty of room. We use only the very best quality handmade art paper from HQ PaperMaker™ and Fabriano and quality imported European acrylic art paints. See the article What Art Materials Do You Use? for detailed information about this.
I personally work with the elephant artists at the Center on every single painting. I don’t actually do the paintings of course. My job is to place the paper on the easel and to load the paintbrush (we use two different sizes of brush, modified to make it easy for the elephant to hold) with the colours that I choose. I hand the brush to the artist who then takes it in his/her trunk, moves towards the easel and proceeds to paint in his/her own style.
The paint colours and the paper background colours are selected well before the painting session and chosen to suit the elephant’s style. This is specialized practice that we’ve been able to develop over ten years of experience and that’s what makes our paintings really stand out.
I usually work with two artists at the same time, one on each side of me. They are completely unaided during the creation of each painting, except for the handing over of the brushes. As soon as the paint loaded on the brushes has been used up, the elephants hand the empty brushes back to me (often banging my chest impatiently with their trunks) and wait to have the brushes reloaded.
While the elephants are painting they don't just wave their trunks around in the air, splashing paint onto the paper in a 'hit and miss' fashion. On the contrary they obviously have spatial awareness and they carefully apply the strokes within the confines of the paper, rarely going over the edges except, one can assume, as an artistic gesture. See the article How Are the Artists Trained to Paint? for more details about this.
Each painting session lasts no more than 20 minutes duration, after which the elephants usually tire or their creative talents wane. Then they stroll off and eat sugar cane and bananas, or go to the river to take a shower. What a life eh?
There is always a clear point in time when the artwork is 'complete'. I can see this and often I am certain that the artists can see it too, because instead of giving the brush to me for a refill, they will simply hold the brush back and then stand and look at the work. Finally I remove the painting from the easel and it is hung to dry naturally in the shade.
To see the finished product and purchase paintings please View The Gallery