The Truth About Elephant Art

Elephant Art | Can Elephants Really Paint?

Can elephants really paint and create art? You watch and be the judge. This is the amazing story of a remarkable female elephant by the name of Suda, She is eight years old in this video. I had visited elephant parks previously and was very interested in Suda's progress as an elephant artist. I knew the owners of the elephant park were Suda lives, so I would visit the park often. 

The park is very well run and maintained and extremely safe for both the tourists and the elephants. The park operators would take good care of the tourists that visited the park by providing an interesting range of activities. One such activity was elephant paintings. The reason that the elephants would paint for the audience is to raise money for the elephant clinic at the park. 

This money enables the park to have a full time veterinarian to take care of the health needs of not only the elephants of this park, but provide medical care for all elephants from other elephant parks throughout the valley free of charge. Each painting sold at the park helps to support the elephant clinic.

Many that visited the park would quickly warm to Suda and her painting ability. Suda loved her mahout,  David and they were inseparable. Wherever he would go, Suda would follow.

Suda would participate in the daily activities of the elephant shows run at the park.  The duties were light and non taxing for the elephants. The elephants would be rewarded with bananas and sugarcane after performing a particular activity.

Like the tourists to the park I also warmed to Suda and her paintings. The painting which Suda is doing here was done for a lady by the name of Jessyca. To make it easy for Suda to write her name, I recommended the name be shortened to simply, Jess.

Not every elephant can paint and like Suda. Only the smarter elephants can. Some elephants have no desire or aptitude to paint so they are involved in other activities around the park.

Many people wonder how an elephant is able to paint and whether it does it entirely by itself.

An elephant learns to paint by repetition and positive reinforcement. They are not punished for making an incorrect brush stroke or poor quality work. They just practice again another day. Little by little and with patients the elephant will improve.

Suda loves bananas and sugar cane and he's rewarded well when she completes a particular task.

When an elephant initially tries to paint, the paintings are not very good. This was also true in Suda's case. Initially, Suda learned how to hold the paintbrush with her trunk. Once Suda was able to hold the brush she learned how to make a brush stroke dabbing paint onto the canvas or paper.

Over a period of a few weeks, Suda could position the brush easily according to the directions of her mahout. The mahout assisted her to paint. If the elephant is a male and has long tusks, the mahout may use the tusks to guide the elephant to paint in a particular direction, such as up and down and left or right.

With female elephants, the man who may guide the elephant's trunk to help the elephant complete the strokes. It still requires skill as the elephant and mahout need to understand each other so that a good work of art can be created.

The better the mahouts and elephant know each other, the better the paintings will be. This is the remarkable case with Suda. When she paints,  her mahout doesn't have to prompt her as much. Suda has a good memory and understands what her mahout wants her to do. Thin lines, broad lines, squiggles and curves. So you can see there needs to be a lot of coordination between Suda and  her mahout to achieve this.

It may take an elephant several years to achieve the level of success for which Suda has become so well known.

Suda has been painting for about three years at the time of this video. Suda usually signs her name at the top right hand corner of the paintings she does. This time however, she will sign the painting she is doing for Jessyca with the name Jess.

This painting is called "Just The Two Of Us" and is one of eight from the collection known as "Suda Creations".

So in conclusion, I'll leave you with a much asked question. Can Suda and other elephants actually paint? If you enjoyed the video, please like and share. 

If you would like more information about Suda's or other elephant's paintings, check out the links in the description box below. Thanks for watching and don't forget to subscribe and turn notifications on to get updates for other amazing stories.

Suda has almost finished her painting. She is now painting in the grass carefully dabbing the green paint onto the canvas, will do some finishing touches and then complete her work of art by writing Jessyca's name.  

Enjoy the rest of the video. If you watch it to the end, you will see that Suda truly is a remarkable elephant.

Click here to view our collection of elephant paintings.