How do elephants paint?

Elephant painting is a beautiful collaboration between an elephant and their mahout (the elephant’s life-long caretaker). It showcases the extraordinary bond between them, but even then it takes great time and effort. Not all elephants and mahouts can accomplish this. At our park we have over 80 elephants, but only four of them choose to paint.

Step 1

First, the art supplies are prepped. We use water-based acrylic paints and either poster board or canvas. The mahout uses a palette to mix the colors and the brushes are custom made so elephants can comfortably hold them and paint with their trunks.

How to prepare for an elephant painting.

Step 2

Every piece begins with a blank canvas and a vision. Depending on the complexity of the painting, it can take up to 4 hours to complete, and the mahout takes several breaks during this time to make sure the elephant is not bored or hungry.

How an elephant painting is made.

Step 3

Action. Here you can see how our NFT-artist, Tunwa, starts one of his paintings with a background that would make Bob Ross wide-eyed with envy. In this particular painting, the first part is not too difficult and involves broad strokes to create a blue sky background.

Elephant painting using strokes

Trunk Break

Regular breaks are very important. Elephants need a lot of water, and a snack is always appreciated. Bamboo and different types of fruit (mainly bananas) are an elephant’s food of choice.

Trunk Break - Elephant Painting

Step 4

After some rest, it’s time to keep the artistic juices flowing. Now the difficult part starts, and in this case Tunwa is painting a tree. It should be added that there are several breaks taken during this part of the process.

Elephant painting using strokes


A masterpiece has been created and a proud artist strikes a pose. Tunwa is well rewarded each time he completes a painting and spends the rest of the day with his mahout going for walks or resting in the shade with his friends.

Elephant pose with completed painting.