2802, 2803, 2804…

I made it through the first four weeks. Last week I ran out of paper and by the time it got here I was behind by a couple of days. I can’t let that happen again – it was so hard to get caught up!

I’m mostly using 130 lb. Arches En-Tout-Cas Watercolor Paper Roll which is hot press on one side and cold press on the other. I paint the backgrounds with a variety of waterbased paints and inks and print the elephants with gouache – Winsor Newton, Graham’s and Holbein – because of the brilliant saturated color. Some are also ’embellished’ with markers before being stamped on the back and numbered.

There are so many incredible elephant stories but my current favorite is the story of Lawrence Anthony who rescued a herd of elephants in KwaZulu-Natal and wrote The Elephant Whisperer. In this youtube video, his widow tells of the herd’s awareness that Anthony had died and traveled to his home to mourn his passing.


1303, 1304, 1305

I was going to write about an elephant called Torn Ear who was killed with poisoned arrows a few days ago… But, this morning I found this photo a friend posted on my Facebook page:


and it reminded me of some other elephants in desperate situations that influenced my decision to head down this path (to make 99 elephants a day for a year).

I’ve always loved elephants! I love their feet, the sounds they make, the way they look when they run! their wrinkly skin and  the things they can do with their trunks!  And this is just what I love about their appearance.  At first glance this elephant is doing something cute – it comes from a website that posts silly pictures of cats and whatnot. But take a step back and you see that this elephant is hugging itself with it’s eyes closed – cocooning – shutting out the desolate barbed-wire enclosed area where it is standing and the world it lives in…

In the late 70s I went to the Philadelphia Zoo and made a point of dragging my friends to the elephant house. I can vividly remember the room with two elephants behind heavy bars and one of them was chained to the floor! This memory still leaves me speechless. I went back to the Philadelphia Zoo with my daughter’s scout troop  around 2001 and the elephants can now be seen coming and going from their house which is private, to an outside area. But I do not believe that we still need zoos (if we ever did) to learn about animals. We have the internet.

In the early 80s, when I was living in the South, an elephant in California got loose and trampled it’s trainer. I just Googled California elephant tramples trainer and got “About 2,950,000 results (0.42 seconds) “. It’s incomprehensible and I don’t really want to go looking for the exact incident among so many. It’s just too depressing.

786, 787, 788… settling into the process…

one from this morning

Day eight… and I’m still adjusting to the pace of this project. It takes about four hours a day before I get to the computer.

I start with the roller and matrix and try to do more than 99, because there will be days I cannot make elephants. Including the ones I made this morning, I have 892. Once the paint is dry, I count them and stamp them and number them and record them in my book. Then I sort them into piles of Ready and Not-so-ready. The second pile I go through and adjust or add to the image with paint or ink. The last thing is painting and cutting the paper for the next day.


This is the number and the stamp that goes on the back of each elephant.


1, 2, 3…

In 2013, 36,000 elephants were murdered for their ivory. This year I intend to make 99 elephants a day. 99 elephants x 365 days = 36,000.

How will I accomplish this? As I launch this project I am making small one of a kind mixed media prints on paper, with gouache and ink – 2 ½” x 3 ½” – the size of Artist Trading Cards or ACEOs.  Later on, after I adjust to the pace, there will be ink drawings in groups. And as the project rolls forward I cannot say exactly how it will look.

I do know that one facet of this project involves sending a third of the proceeds to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. Check them out! They rescue the orphaned elephants (and rhinos too), eventually reintegrating them into the wild. The DSWT has been able to save 150 infant elephants at this point. It may be too late to save the species from extinction in spite of all the press the ivory trade is getting recently… However, supporting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust will have the most direct impact from my studio in Pennsylvania.

The fourth person I told about my plans for this project asked, “Why would you do that?”  And that is what I will be addressing with this blog, as I document my process/progress.