Bath Time for Baby
All babies are cute, but baby elephants are so expressive like the one above having the best day ever!
Baby Nuzzles Mom
Standing beside their watchful mothers, they look so small and somewhat fragile.
Baby’s First Steps
With those big floppy ears, it’s easy to imagine them taking flight, playfully floating upon the breeze and coming to a landing in our love-filled hearts. Let’s bring some of that joy into this week’s project.
How to Paint a Wooden Baby Elephant:
Raw Wood Elephant
In previous painted wood projects, the animals had feathers, scales, or fur. Elephants present a unique challenge: wrinkles. I must admit this took much longer than expected as I progressed through a series of trial and error to achieve the desired appearance by layering. Let’s get started…
Wooden Elephant (5” high x 6-1/4” wide x 1-1/4” thick)
Acrylic Paints – Gray & Black, (Pink is optional)
Markers – Gray
Pens -Black Fine Point
1) Bottle fabric paint – Brown
1) Bottle fabric paint – Black
1) Bottle fabric paint – White (not shown)
Start building texture with three-dimensional fabric paint. I used white, but any color will do because we will paint over it in a later step. Draw both eyes with a pencil. Thicken and shape the ears and outline the eyes with fabric paint.
Paint the Body
Paint the body gray, including both sides and all the edges.
Draw Details with a Marker
Define the wrinkles using a gray marker.
Add More Wrinkles
After viewing numerous photos, I added wrinkles all over the body using a marker but immediately regretted it. I should have followed my own advice: Draw or paint what you feel, not what you know.
Repaint the Body
A fresh coat of paint gives us a clean slate to try again and allows the marker lines to lightly show through, which is great for the next step.
Cautiously Draw Wrinkles
Using a pencil, slowly add details in key areas to imply overall wrinkles. Build up the eyes with brown fabric paint.
Trace with a Marker
With a gray marker, trace the wrinkles and outline the eyes. Finish building the eyes up with brown fabric paint and allow it to dry. Add pupils and a white spot in each to bring them to life.
Trace with Fabric Paint
Retrace the wrinkles with black fabric paint. You are probably thinking, “Here she goes again. Jumping in with both feet,” and you are correct. The difference is this time … I like it! Don’t worry about too much contrast because we will tone it down in the next step. Develop the eyes with the same fabric paint.
Repaint & Create More Texture
By repainting the body with gray paint, the raised wrinkles recede, becoming part of the thick skin. Next, mix black and gray acrylic paint to create a darker gray. Dip a cotton ball in the new dark gray paint and dab it on a piece of scrap paper to remove the excess. Lightly dab the cotton ball all over the body to create new subtle layers of texture. Repeat as needed.
Trace with a Marker
Retrace the wrinkles, ears, and eyes with gray marker. Add lines around the mouth and tip of trunk. At this point you could stop, but I wanted to add a few little details to make this elephant look like a baby. For that we need a little inspiration.
Adorable Baby Elephant
Three things stand out: eyelashes, the pink inside of the mouth, and peach fuzz hair running along the spine from top of the head to the tail. Markers or paint will work nicely for the first two details, but the third requires a special ingredient…
A Longhair Cat
Yes, I am recommending the use of cat hair for an art project. I must say it is the oddest ingredient I have ever used. Longhair cats require daily brushing, so collecting soft hair is no problem. (lol)
Completed Baby Elephant
Glue on the hair with Elmer’s glue. Adjust and trim the hair as needed. Add eyelashes with a fine point black pen and paint the inside of the mouth pink.
Closeup of Elephant’s Face
Although these details are minor, I think they provide softness and a “cuteness” factor to this baby elephant, just like his living counterparts.
Baby Elephant – Before & After
This completes our project. Persistence pays off. Experimentation is a tremendous help in solving artistic problems. If you are not happy with the results, let it sit for a day or two and the inspiration will come to you just when you need it most.
Have you faced any artistic challenges like wrinkles? Have you used an unusual item, such as cat hair, in an arts and crafts project? Please share your ideas in the comments section. Thanks for joining me. Good luck with your future works of art.
Thanks for Reading & Happy Crafting!