I spent a few hours sketching elephants at the zoo yesterday. It’s a challenge studying a moving object but I am learning a lot and beginning to understand their anatomy a bit. Hopefully I will be able to get close to an elephant before I begin painting so that I can move with the elephant and get sufficient time studying specific details. Yesterday, I would draw two or three lines in for the head then look up from my paper to find the elephants butt square in my view.
I am not aware of any paintings of elephants done in the 16th century, but the subject of this piece was one I wanted to paint long before the birth of this project. I think that it’s a good fit for this project partly because it involved a large animal and, in my opinion, it actually presents more problems than a subject involving a safe domesticated animal like a horse (a common renaissance subject).