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Elephant Artwork & The Painting Process

My daily drawing project of the toy elephant in 2015 inspired me to make new paintings! Shown here are two toy elephant paintings. Below I explain the studio process behind the scenes in making these artworks. The two new paintings are small (only 4" x 4") and I used acrylic paint on panel. My favorite panel are the gessobord and claybord panels from Ampersand Art. 

Painting Process

Art Inspiration

I begin making a painting by choosing a drawing from which to use as the inspiration and basis. Usually I draw some quick small sketches of the composition before working on a painting.

Toy Elephant Painting in progress, 2015 Rachael Grad artwork on panel



For these two small toy elephant paintings I drew simple lines of paint to mark the composition. The lines divided the panels and formed the basis of the painting design.


Once the overall design of each painting was initially marked with thin painted lines, I chose colors for the elephant and the background. I used the colors to move the shapes around and slightly change some lines.

Pink Elephant painting on 4" x 4" panel 2015 Rachael Grad original acrylic artwork

 Pink Toy Elephant Painting 1, Acrylic on Panel, 4″ x 4″, 2015


I went back and forth between re-drawing the toy elephant image and the background lines in paint and blocking in the main colors.

Working on Two Paintings.

I alternated working on the two different paintings. This gave the paint a chance to dry (acrylic paint dries very quickly compared to oil paint) so that I could continue painting with more precision. Letting each layer of paint dry is key for controlling wet paint on the small gesso panels.

Taking Breaks While Painting

My artwork is always better when I remember to take breaks and let both the painting and my mind rest in between studio sessions. When coming back to an artwork after a break I can more clearly see the painting and areas that I want to fix.

I find the composition of small paintings can be easier to control because of the limited area. A challenge in small scale is getting precision with brushstrokes.

Blue Toy Elephant Painting 1, Acrylic on Panel, 4″ x 4″, 2015 rachael grad art original artwork

Blue Toy Elephant Painting 1, Acrylic on Panel, 4″ x 4″, 2015


What do you think of these two small Toy Elephant paintings? Do you like reading about the process for making paintings?