Original Painting Medium: Graphite Pencil
Scientific Name: Loxodonta africana
This drawing of a family of elephants was inspired by an old, sepia tatty and faded photograph. Thirty years ago I was given this old photograph but sadly its history: where it was taken and by whom, is unknown. As the image was in such poor condition it remained at the bottom of a drawer until 2001.
Having always wished to portray a family group of elephants and in need of reference material – my thoughts returned to the photograph.
The contrast of elephants against the darkness of the forest and the tall leafy trees reaching up into the sky, captured my imagination. I decided to use the trees as a frame for my artwork and to portray the image using graphite. For my greetings card a black and white drawing seemed appropriate.
Elephant family units vary but normally number about a dozen animals; ranging in age from the matriarch herself down to newborn calves. Elephants can live 70 – 80 years, as the elephants in this portrait were photographed so many years ago it is more than likely that many of the older members in this group are no longer alive.
Both male and female African elephants have tusks, the tusks are greatly elongated incisors (elephants have no canine teeth). Tusks of this size are seldom found on elephants in Africa today, due to poachers and hunting.
The demand for ivory is as old as man himself. This insatiable desire resulted in the elephants’ becoming prime targets for hunters as they combed the country wiping out the herds in one area before moving on to the next. Sadly the demand for ivory remains as great as ever and it is estimated that one elephant is butchered and killed every 15 minutes.
Hopefully the elephants in my Family Portrait were able to live out their lives naturally though. My greatest wish is that somewhere in Africa today, roaming the same grasslands and following the well trodden path portrayed in this drawing, are the offspring of this family group.