My recent studio session was dedicated to a woman in Washington who has been struggling with her health after a gym injury that has left her barely able to walk. One of the members in my Spirit Wings Painting Course asked for volunteers to make angel paintings for some people who were having a hard time. I happily volunteered to make a painting for her. I thought I’d be making an angel painting like the ones we’ve been doing in this class, but after chatting with Jennifer, she said wanted an elephant. A kindred spirit perhaps? I LOVE painting elephants and couldn’t wait to begin this piece.

So one quiet Friday night I poured a nice glass of red, lit a candle and began my healing elephant. I knew I wanted her to evoke strength and a bit of power, so having her be front and center with a wise eye was key. As I played with layers of collage, spray inks, stencils stamps, mark making I sent healing thoughts to Jennifer. I channeled a strong vibe and one that would help her to not give up on getting her health back. Trust me she’s been through a lot!

As the background came together it was time to sketch her. I love using my stabillo black pencil for sketching. I do a rough sketch, then once I’m happy with the shape I dip it into water and go over the lines to make them more solid. Always knowing I can remove anything that doesn’t work. Then I used some high flow paint to make the ears. The ears and the eyes are the most important part of the elephant. They can really set the tone for the whole being. As I turned the paper to make the paint drip to create the wrinkles for the ears it was just perfect. I love the organic way the lines formed just like the wrinkles on the real thing. At this point I was doing the happy dance in my seat as the drips looked so pretty. I also love how the high flow paint looks like water color and allows all the juicy layers underneath to still peer through. As I added the details of the eyes and trunk I knew this was going to be a powerful beacon for Jennifer to look at daily to find her strength. I then quieted the background to allow for her to really stand out. But it was a bit plain, so I added her head dress and some stencils to fill in some of the white space. I can’t wait to send it to her!

POST UPDATE: March 23, 2016

Well… I thought she was done, but nope, not quite. I was holding off on mailing it so I was like, “what is up, why do I feel this is unfinished?”

I had completed a similar elephant painting inspired by this one a few days after and because it wasn’t going to a person I felt a little more at ease with experimenting. That’s this one below.

I really liked actually doing to doodles on this one and thought maybe Jennifer’s elephant could also use some of the adornments. So I gave it a shot and here’s what the final version turned out to be. I sent it away and below is her response when she received it.

“You did an amazing unbelievable job with her. The colors all the things on her. It’s amazing that a stranger can paint something so wonderful. I have shown real artists and there are amazed. I having my room painted for it. Redoing my whole room around it. With encouraging bible versus. And encouraging words. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. I am in my room most of the day. You have given something no one else has! I can’t stop looking at it. Your a true angel. A note is on the way for my gratitude. Again Nicole, thank you for helping me be strong and get through my condition.”

Many Blessings to you,

Jen