Every now and then, I revisit an old pattern, see if I can freshen it up a little. Usually, it's after a long hiatus, like the sea otter, or refreshing an existing one, like the hummingbird. In those cases, the old version goes away entirely, replaced by the new.
That's not what happened with the Elephant. The original version of my baby elephant, in cobalt blue, goes back almost to the beginnings of Off Center Ceramics. I'd found a newspaper photo of a baby elephant being fostered by keepers at the San Diego Zoo, following one around holding to a bandana "tail" tied to the keeper's belt loop. I painted them on soup and toddler bowls, painted mugs, stew mugs, and a host of other forms. I mislaid the original photo, but kept painting elephants.
I was also drawing them from life. The Portland Zoo has a well-established elephant breeding program, and I've taken my sketchbook up there periodically to draw their newborn calves, mothers, aunties.
But it wasn't until I saw a photo set of baby animals coming over my dash on the internet that I was inspired to update my elephants. A baby African elephant, ears awave, practically dancing along, made me take out my brush and try to capture it. At first, only on big pieces, platters and serving bowls, cookie jars. She's slowly made her way down the inventory: pastas, bakers, pie plates and casseroles. Dinner and dessert plates. Even creamers and tall mugs.
I still haven't retired the original, blue elephant, though. Think I'll keep both options around, at least for a while yet.
After all, elephants never forget.