Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Elephant No. 44: Finger Painting

For today's elephant, I felt like painting with my fingers. This was only the second time I'd tried finger painting since I was little, so I was either expecting a total disaster or an unexpected masterpiece.

I started by pouring relatively large amounts of bottled acrylic paint into an assortment of palette-like containers, and laid out a sheet of 16 x 20 (40.6 x 50.8 cm) paper specially made for acrylic paint. For finger-painting, you normally use more slippery paints and paper with a slick surface, but I wanted to go for a more painterly effect.

I opted not to use a photograph this time, although it might have been better if I did.

I started by making an outline in purple with my index finger, followed by my usual blue, green, red, orange and yellow. I used a number of techniques: thick lines of paint drawn along the paper with various fingertips; light coatings of paint smudged heavily into the surface; and the sides of my fingernails.

I liked this okay, but I can never leave well enough alone, so I began adding more colour to the elephant. And because I'd goofed and added extra blue under the elephant, I compounded my mistake by adding greenery and flowers. I wish I hadn't, but oh well. I suppose I can pretend it goes with the whole finger-painting concept.

Another thing I discovered is that, if you have medium-length fingernails, paint will collect under them, and will choose unusual moments to discharge itself onto the paper. I ended up with strange little blurts of paint when I least expected it. Sometimes I could make it work by spreading the paint; other times I just let it be streaky and weird.

And, because fingers are relatively clumsy paintbrushes, I used my fingernails to create a few small dots and lines. The effect was most obvious in the eye area.

The final result was far from a masterpiece, but it wasn't a total disaster, either. I will probably try this again sometime, using the smudging effect more, and my fingernails more, and less gloppy amounts of paint.

Elephant Lore of the Day
I covered this story in the original Elephant a Day blog, but I thought it was so funny that it was worth repeating today.

Elephants like to play as much as any other animal, but pity the poor monitor lizard who became an Asian elephant's favourite toy.

Madhuri and her favourite toy, Corbett National Park, India.
Photo: ©Jagdeep Rajput/Solent News and Photo Agency

In India's Corbett National Park, a female elephant called Madhuri became quite taken with monitor lizards as playthings. Scooping the hapless creatures off the ground by their tails, Madhuri would carry them around for days, swinging them about in the air like rag dolls. Sometimes she also tossed them high into the air, let them drop to the ground, then picked them up and began flinging  them around again.

Eventually she would get bored with her lizard du jour, and let it escape—only to snatch up another monitor lizard a few days later.

Madhuri walking with her hapless plaything.
Photo: ©Jagdeep Rajput/Solent News and Photo Agency

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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