ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Original Elephant Art Paintings

Updated on March 14, 2009

The most amazing art by super talented elephant artists

When I first saw the video posted below, I could not believe it. It is truly amazing: an elephant is painting a self-portrait! Incredible. This proves to me what sensitive sentient beings the elephants are! Being sceptical, I did some research on the subject matter, and I found out that it is the elephant's nature to doodling on the ground with pebbles and sticks and that these wonderful animals enjoy the painting work they are creating...but do they always? Read about it in this lense!

ORIGINAL Elephant Painting - Hong is a very talented and deep female elephant

Can your elephant paint? Watch this elephant, rescued from abusive treatment in Burma, now paint a beautiful image of an elephant. You'll be amazed at how her talent unfolds as she carefully completes each stroke. Her mahout talks to her throughout the process as his gentle touch gives her confidence. She focuses on her work and seems to enjoy the approval of the audience and, of course, the sugar cane and banana treats. All of her training has been reward based.

So touched by their horrific backgrounds and loving personalities "Starving Elephant Artisans" supports by selling their paintings so they can continue to have a new life in Thailand.

Some Thai elephant experts believe that the survival of the Asian elephant species will most likely depend on the good treatment of the elephants in well managed privately owned elephant camps. All of us would prefer that all of the elephants be free to be in the wild. For many reasons, that is not possible at this time.

Elephant Atelier

Thai elephants have traded timber-hauling for easel-painting.

At the Maesa Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand where elephants play harmonicas, give rides and paint flowers. Their former employment was hauling teak logs out of the woods, but with new regulations against deforestation, the animals were thrown out of work. (We're not sure why they couldn't have been released into the wild, except "the wild" may not have vacancy. There are worse ways to pass one's time than landscape painting.)

Eight of the elephants, under the direction of guest artist Cholsinth Chorsakul, produced "Cold Wind, Swirling Mist, Charming Lanna," a panel painting 2.4 x 12 meters in scale, which earned them the distinction of a Guinness World Record: "The Largest Painting by A Group of Elephants" on February 19, 2005. So far as we know, "Cold Wind" has not been surpassed in this category.

The Maesa Camp has its own "art instructor," Tossapol Petchrattanakool, who according to Anne's report prepares the elephants' brushes for them. She writes: "Each of five elephants stood before an easel and canvas. The mahout's job was to dip the brush in the paint and hand it to the elephant's trunk, and then the elephant dabbed a green leaf onto the canvas, or drew the line of a stem - following a clearly rehearsed first step in his signature painting....

imageKongkum, Wanpen, Kamsan, Lankam, Duanpen, Songpun, Punpetch and Pu Ood collaborated on their winning work

Photo: Guinness World Records

"Meanwhile, an elephant nearby was stroking lily pads onto canvas in the same dab-by-dab process....Then, the elephant I was watching began to add orange flowers to the leafy stalk. Most humans, in fact, could not paint with such grace. The flower stalks painted by another elephant were eerily Matisse-like. The paintings were hung up for sale and went for about $40 each."

Did Petchrattanakool and Chorsaku require the eight elephants shooting for the world record to forego their individual "styles" in making a collaborative work? Do the animals show any interest in their art afterward or is it off to the coconut trough? We welcome critical response and human submission of more floral paintings by non-humans.

Do you think this is awesome or cruel? - The elephant artist

Is it astonishing and wonderful to see these beautiful animals paint? Do you realize better now how intelligent and adorable they are?

Most of them used to work as logging animals. Also elephants rescued from mistreatment are now elephant artists. Should they be allowed and trained to do elephant art? Or is it cruel? Do you think one should capture wild elephants and train them? DO you think the elephant art is good any which way because it can save the lives of thai children by providing the father some income? Or do you think this is all a money making scheme?

Is this the most amazing video you ever saw and does it makes you think how much we underestimate the intelligence and feelings of animals. Or do you think it is unbelievably cruel to make elephants paint?

Yes, Iet the elephants paint!

Yes, Iet the elephants paint!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      see if you can train an elephant without being cruel than it is a very good job a person can ever do. i loved what i saw.

    • grannysage 6 years ago

      I think it is amazing and not cruel unless they are forced to do it. It also promotes awareness of how intelligent these animals are. It would also keep them from being bored.

    No, stop the cruelty of elephant painting!

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      Unique Art Painting by Thai Elephant Artist - One of Hong's finest pieces of art is now available as a reduced size 5"W x 7"H high quality Giclee PRINT (frame n

      Hong is an 8 year old female who has a very curious nature and loves to investigate everything and once managed to use her trunk to open the door of a truck. This kind of curiosity made Hong a natural candidate for artistic instruction. She has so much control and dexterity with her trunk which allows her to create more advanced realistic paintings...and only started painting 2 years ago. I had the pleasure of rewarding Hong with many bananas and sugar cane after she finished her painting that appeared in our video. What a special moment and connection!

      When Thailand cut back on logging, at least 3,000 domesticated elephants were no longer needed for hauling and these wonderful creatures are facing unprecedented survival challenges. Hong's amazing art is being sold to help save the demising number of Asian elephants remaining on our planet and to protect them from people using them for illegal logging or begging for handouts on city streets. Proceeds are used to keep their native habitats as well as caretaker education, veterinarian care, and food for domesticated elephants.

      Positive behavioral training techniques and non-toxic paints are used while Hong explores her sense of style. Your beautiful print comes with Hong's picture and bio. Thank you for helping and saving these amazing and talented creatures.

      About Lucky the elephant artist - Despite her large size, she is quite attentive to detail as she applies paint to the canvas using her favorite paintbrush

      Most elephant-artists are of the Indian variety. Lucky at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is not. She needs silence to work and has favorite colours, like all artists.

      Born in 1980, Lucky has called Cheyenne Mountain Zoo home since 1981 after being orphaned in Kruger National Park, South Africa. She shares her residence with best friend Kimba, another female African elephant. The two have been together for 25 years.

      One of the many things Lucky's keepers have done to keep this highly intelligent animal mentally stimulated and challenged, was to teach her to paint as an "enrichment" activity. Enrichment is a term used to describe various activities that increase the animals' physical and mental activity levels, and stimulate natural behaviors.

      A quick study, Lucky took to this new activity in a matter of weeks. Despite her large size, she is quite attentive to detail as she applies paint to the canvas using her favorite paintbrush. (Elephants have over 100,000 muscles in their trunks, providing them great strength, dexterity and coordination.) Her medium is water-based tempera paint and, given a choice, Lucky prefers working in pinks and purples. Every painting is signed by the artist.

      Lucky often makes vocalizations while she's painting, which sound very much like a loud purr. This is a contented noise, which gives every indication that she is enjoying expressing her creative side. However, unpredictable and temperamental as she is, Lucky has been known to stop in the middle of a painting session if people are talking while she's working.

      National Elephant Day

      Please take note that March 13th is National Elephant Day (Wan Chaang Thai).

      Elephants who paint are emotional beings - and they enjoy painting

      Elephants paint because they enjoy it

      Anyone watching an elephant paint is stricken by the focus the elephant displays while creating its art. The elephants' caretakers (mahouts) who know them best - just like you know your pet - describe the mood of their elephant during painting as; smiling all of the time, eager to put color on the canvas, or even, appears genuinely inspired. Some elephants will happily paint at every opportunity, other elephants will only paint when they feel like it and no coaxing will make them touch the canvas when they don't.

      Elephants enjoy painting because it relieves boredom & stress.

      All animals need to be active, elephants do too. Painting seems to have an effect on their behaviour and well-being. Says a caretaker about his painting elephant: 'she was always shy and withdrawn and now she's much more outgoing, energetic, she's very inquisitive'. Part of the enjoyment of painting for the elephants is that they paint however they choose, and they produce painting styles comparable to some renowned human artists.

      Elephants who paint are emotional beings.

      Elephants also like creating art because they receive verbal praise which reinforces their behavior, like the way your pet reacts to you when he does something good. Elephants are deeply aware of social relationships and love when they hit the target. Well-treated animals want to please and be appreciated, not unlike humans...

      Elephants are an important part of Thai culture and the Thai way of life

      They are a traditional symbol of royal power, an essential feature of Buddhist art and architecture, an a spiritual mentor for people of all walks of life

      In the early part of this century, elephants roamed freely and in multitude throughout Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Prior to the 18th century they were the main machine of Southeast Asian war, a Thai king of the late 17th century having had 20,000 war elephants trained for battle. Elephants in Thailand have always been a symbol of both power and peace. They have always performed the most exacting physical tasks. And they have always been well loved.

      The number of elephants in Thailand today is limited to about 2,000. Most of these are at various elephant camps around the country where they learn to work in the forests and mountains and to entertain the hundreds of thousands of people who go to see them each year, and where they live, play and reproduce in a setting that is as close to the wild as possible.

      Elephants have plied in Thailand's Jungles since the days of old Siam. The elephant is acknowledged as having many wide attributes, and perhaps the most obvious is showmanship. Talent for a stately presence, for delicate foot movement and agility, for intelligence on the field of sport, and at the same time a particular gentleness that makes the elephant not only a highly respected creature of the land but also one that is appreciated and loved.

      Thai elephants can be found in the tourism sector, logging industry, wandering in national parks or local circus. Of these only about 20 elephants can paint. Elephants producing artwork could be a solution to raising funds to preserve Thai elephants. Mrs. Anchalee Kalmapijit a director of the Mae Sae Elephant Camp came to realize the admiration the Japanese have for elephant art when she saw the popularity of the travelling elephant art exhibition while she was visiting Japan. She asked herself how could she educate and create awareness among Thai people to increase their appreciation of this rare talent found in a selected few of the country's beloved elephants.

      Everyday there are articles describing the problems mahouts face in keeping their elephants well and healthy in Thailand. More and more often a common question commonly asked among Thai people who are concerned about preserving Thai Elephants is about ways in which the public can take an active role. After you have visited the exhibition, urge your neighbors, friends, and school mates to visit the exhibition to generate greater interest in how to save Thai Elephants.

      Become a member of the Elephant Art Club

      If you are concerned about the plight of elephants in Thailand, you can become a member of the Elephant Art Club.

      Contact the Membership Director of the Elephant Art Club at 119/9 Tapae Rd., Chiangmai 50100, Tel. 053 206247, 053 206248 or Fax. 053 206247, email: ele_club@hotmail.co

      Painting by Boon Mee Elephant Artist - 20% of the selling price goes to the elephant farm

      Boonmee is a male elephant born in 1996 at Bureerum, Thailand. He is strong and has good figure. He is the male elephant without tusk. Boonmee is the only elephant who can draw various kinds of pictures - flowers, trees, heart shape, letters writing, or even draw the picture of himself. The art made by him have been distributed more than 500 pictures around the world. His most famous pictures are trees and flowers. Boonmee has a friend named Thongsri Lohapoam, His instructor is Put Udom. He is the sole artist in Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm, Thailand

      Elephants commonly pass time by doodling on the ground with sticks and pebbles - Teaching them to draw rewards that behavior, using different tools

      Putting paint strokes to paper is simply an extension of an elephant's usual penchant for drawing on the ground of their natural habitats. Generally elephants would use sticks, pebbles and leaves to make pictures in the sand and earth, but are now picking up a paintbrush and turning their trunks to a much loved hobby and creating amazing Elephant Artifacts!

      Oh Yes!

      The elephants' paintings, compared by some critics to the works of such great abstract expressionist artists as Jackson Pollock, Williem de Kooning and Franz Kline, have been exhibited internationally and have fetched thousands of dollars apiece at Christie's auction house.

      Interestingly, elephants commonly pass time by doodling on the ground with sticks and pebbles. "Teaching them to draw rewards that behavior, using different tools," suggests New York art historian Mia Fineman. Fineman believes that the idea that only humans can create art is an "artificial construct" of the art world. "Elephants are motivated by something beyond functionality," Ms Fineman said, "and this is called art."

      Elephant Art Is Popular

      Sustainably conserve Thai elephants

      Art from an elephant The Lampang Elephant Conservation Center managed by the Forest Industry Organization is under the government Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. The Center's main concerns are to sustainably conserve Thai elephants, to protect and to provide them with veterinary care, to support responsible development of eco-tourism and to take care of auspicious elephants known as "changpuak" or white elephants. In Tourism circles, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center received an award from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in 1998. The center has many activities in which elephants play a part which visitors can watch such as training elephants to draw and to play musical instruments.

      The drawing activity at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center was introduced and later supported by Nancy Abraham, Richard Lair and Alex Meiarmid of a team who developed the Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Project in New York USA. Selected elephants have been trained there since 1997 and mahouts are closely involved with this activity. The drawing instruments are paints brushes, paper or cloth. Elephants are able to draw because of their flexible trunks which can clasp a brush that has been dipped into the paint by the mahout. Then, the elephants paint on the paper or cloth using their imagination. The colors are selected by the individual mahout. Each picture that is produced is varied and beautiful. After a while the elephants quickly paint with confidence. The Thai Elephant Conservation Center has many intelligent elephants for example Pharatida, Lookkhang, and Lookkup. Their pictures are very interesting to visitors who are very kind when they see the paintings and donate money to the elephant artist. Visitors are thrilled to accept an elephant painting as a priceless souvenir. Besides paintings being sold at the Center, elephant paintings are shown in exhibitions attracting many visitors at many important hotels in both Bangkok and Chiangmai.

      Visitors and all interested persons wanting to see elephant drawings can drive to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center located km. 28-29 Lampang - Chiangmai Rd., Tambon Wiangtan, Ampur Hangchat in Lampang province. Elephant drawings are seen after the show of elephants at work and the parade of the adorable baby elephants. The daily shows can be seen at 10.00 AM and 11.00 AM. On government and other holidays there is an additional show at 1.30 PM. The entrance ticket is only 50 Baht.

      If you want more details about elephant paintings, please contact

      Tel. (054) 228108, 228034 or Fax. (054) 231150, 228034.

      www.thaielephant.com E - mail: elephant@fio.or.th

      ORIGINAL FLOWER PAINTING BY THAI ELEPHANT!!! - An amazing trunk-painted work of art by Sri Siam, a 7 year old male elephant member of The Elephant Art Academy,a

      An excellent opportunity to acquire a very original & unique work of art at a very affordable price. No two paintings are the same and each artist has their own painting style.

      A unique conversation piece. The perfect gift!!

      This is an original painting, painted by an elephant!

      Size : 56 x 76 cm (approx 22 x 30 inches)

      Buy with confidence from a seller & raiser of awareness of genuine Elephant Art since 2003.

      An amazing trunk-painted work of art by Sri Siam, a 7 year old male elephant member of The Elephant Art Academy,at the National Elephant Institute, Lampang, northern Thailand. The NEI was until 2002 known as the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC), and was under the patronage of Princess Galyani, the King of Thailand's sister. Sadly, Princess Galyani passed away last year.

      Elephants in Asia have been trained for centuries to haul logs for the forestry industry, but deforestation and restrictions on logging have meant the loss of jobs for many of them. Animals no longer able earn their keep are often abandoned, mistreated, and starved. The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre was established in Lampang to care for these unwanted elephants. In 1998, Vitaly Komar & Alex Melamid, 2 Russian born conceptual artists based in New York came to Thailand to set up the Art Academy at the centre, after learning of the plight of the Asian elephants. Paintings by the elephants at the art academy have sold for large sums at charity auctions around the world. Owners of these amazing paintings include royalty & movie stars.

      The NEI relies on donations for its running. The daily tourist show & the paintings created during the show & offered for sale to visitors are one way of generating funds to maintain the centre.

      All paintings for sale are bought direct from the Elephant Art Gallery Shop at the NEI. Every few months my family & I visit the centre, my young son loves the elephants, & we buy a few paintings to sell here on Ebay. Low prices passed directly on to to you the buyer.

      Buyer will receive the exact painting shown here in this listing.

      Painting is acrylic on heavy duty Renaissance art paper.

      Authentication: On the lower right corner of the painting is the official embossed seal of the Elephant Art Academy, and the official stamp bearing the artist's biography.

      The Asian elephant population of the world stands at about 50,000. If you compare this figure to the 100,000 domestic elephants, which lived in Thailand at the turn of the 19th century, you begin to see the desperate situation we are in. It is sad, but the reality is that for the Asian elephant to survive there must be an economic reason for doing so. In an ideal world we would preserve our fellow inhabitants on earth as a global community.

      Until this happens, we must except that the people living in the concentrations of elephants are among the poorest in the world.

      Elephant Dung Paper and Elephant Art creates an income for the keepers of elephants (Mahouts) and so provides a good reason to feed the elephant and to keep them healthy. FACT: The more elephant art sold, the more elephants are being saved. Elephant art provides employment not only for the elephant, but also for low income people at the camp and in their home based businesses. Elephant Art.US donates part of its profits to funding a student exchange year to the U.S.A. for a child of a mahout or family involved in creating elephant dung paper. And Elephant Dung Paper of Thailand puts a percentage of their profits straight back into elephant conservation there.

      It is a sad, but real fact that the Asian elephant must have an economic reason to survive today. We must face the reality that the Asian elephant will not survive without our help. In addition, the people living among the concentrations of the elephants are the poorest in Southeast Asia. The sale of art on this site provides an income which is much safer than the alternatives of illegal logging and street selling in Bangkok.

      Help for the Asian Elephants - Elephant art provides employment not only for the elephant, but also for low income people at the camp and in their home

      Your feedback is appreciated! - If you like this lense, you can

        0 of 8192 characters used
        Post Comment

        • lovemybob profile image

          lovemybob 8 years ago

          Great lens, very enlightening. Thank you and welcome to The Painting Group!

        • Kiwisoutback profile image

          Kiwisoutback 8 years ago from Massachusetts

          Welcome to the endangered species group!

        • profile image

          grannysage 6 years ago

          I really enjoyed this lens and the video was amazing. I couldn't give it a Like however because you do not credit your sources and the text appears to be cut and pasted from somewhere else. Can you re-write in your own words and give credit to where you got your info from?

        Click to Rate This Article