It’s not every day your average pet is a better artist than your average art school drop out. Nonetheless, these adorable animals have immense talent. Some of them have garnered spots in legitimate galleries and raised thousands of dollars with their work, while others simple like making a mess with paw paint.
From a chimpanzee who fooled the ’60s art scene into thinking he was a groundbreaking modern artist, to a horse who was given a second chance after learning to paint, these animal artists will amaze you.
Jumpy, The Impressionist Dog
Someone’s clearly been watching The Joy Of Painting because Jumpy the impressionist pup makes art so professional it wouldn’t be surprising if its hung in a vet’s office somewhere. The truth is, Jumpy and his trainer Omar von Muller are a team and one wouldn’t work without the other.
For Jumpy’s gorgeous impressionist landscapes, Von Muller is the eyes of the project. The adorable pup executes his vision after following careful directions from Von Muller’s pointer. That doesn’t mean Jumpy can’t express himself. The dog takes the reins on more abstract art by gripping the brush in his mouth and going to town. It’s too cute!
Dagger Is Known As DogVinci For A Reason
Dagger, a Black Labrador-Golden Retriever Mix, is a natural born artist (and he’s probably more successful than your average art school graduate.) If the beret isn’t enough to prove it, his extreme talent is. Ever since he was adopted by artist Yvonne Dagger, he was smitten with the craft.
The pup’s ability to paint comes from the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), where he was training to be an assistance dog. As part of his training, Dagger had to learn how to take on human skills. Yvonne handed him a paintbrush, and the little guy went to town. He’s since sold over 150 paintings and raised $10,000 for charity. He’s so famous he even appeared on The Rachael Ray Show.
These Elephant Rescues Have Their Own Gallery
The Thai Elephant Conservation Center is a hub for artistically inclined elephants. Most of the elephants at the center in Thailand have been abandoned or rescued, but The Elephant Art Gallery made them stars.Elephants have over 40,000 muscles in their trunk, which allows them to carefully control their brushes like we control our arms and hands.
The brushes are specially designed to not slip too far down an elephant’s trunk and allows the gentle giants to paint gorgeous, detailed landscapes. Despite their impressive work, some argue the methods used to teach the elephants how to paint are cruel. It’s not exactly your four-year art university, but it’s unclear exactly what goes into teaching them.
These elephants are talented, but one horse’s art literally saved his life.
Metro’s Art Literally Saved His Life
It’s never too late for a race horse to switch careers. Metro Meteor found himself in racing retirement after suffering a serious knee injury. Beyond that, he had a degenerative knee condition that would make getting back on the track impossible. He was given just two years to live when he was adopted by artist Ron Krajewski.
Krajewski changed Metro’s life. He noticed the horse loved to thrash his head up and down, so he gave him a paintbrush, and the passion was instant. Metro became a best-selling painter in Pennsylvania’s Gallery 30 and raised enough cash to afford treatment for his knee condition. He’s now happy and healthy enjoying a long life behind the canvas. Metro has also donated over $45,000 from his painting sales to a charity that helps retired racehorses find forever homes.
Grizzler Takes Photos With Heart
Ever wonder how a dog sees the world? Camera giant Nikon helped one puppy show his point of view through the art of photography. Grizzler became a photographer that was quite literally driven by his heart. The camera strapped to the pup’s chest had a sensor that caused it to go off every time his heart rate increased (i.e. he was taking photos of things that excited or scared him — the stuff the best art is made from).
Grizzler’s camera only snapped a shot when his heart rate went above 119 beats per minute. So, what excited him? His portfolio is full of pictures of dogs, cats, plants, broken eggs and mushrooms. What pup doesn’t love exploring some funny looking fungi?
BowerBirds Are Nature’s Modern Artists
Generations of human women have fallen for the sensitive creative demeanor of artists. It’s an irresistible draw, and you don’t have to be human to think so. It’s apparently no different in the world of birds.Bowerbirds didn’t need humans to teach them how to be master modern artists. It’s built into their very DNA and exactly how they land a mate.
To impress females, Male bowerbirds will collect a variety of trinkets — from ribbons and pieces of glass to photographs — and arrange them into a beautiful work of art. This art piece (which is pretty on par with anything you’d see in The MoMa) serves no other purpose than to be adored. It’s not a nest; it’s a work of art.
If you think bowerbirds are great artists, just wait until you see what belugas can do
These Beluga Whales Take Art Lessons
Beluga whales are arguable one of the cutest things that call the ocean home. The fact that some of them can paint is just icing on the cake. Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama, Japan helped their belugas find their creative side.
The beluga’s at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise were given special beluga brushes that helped them paint pictures from their pools. The brushes were first dipped into the paint by the beluga’s keepers before the whales gripped the brush in their mouth and attempted to copy paintings created by humans in the aquarium’s art program. That’s right: at this aquarium, both humans and whales learn how to paint.
Mshindi The Rhino Loved To Paint
Black Rhinos are increasingly rare and listed as critically endangered. Mshindi, who lived at the Denver Zoo, was a true gem before his sad passing. The budding artist held a brush in his mouth to create amazing abstract works with the help of his trainer Christine Bobko. Bobko taught the rhino to paint along with other activities like sitting on command and playing fetch (who knew you could train a rhino like a pup?)
Sadly, Mshindi had to be euthanized in September of 2015 amidst foot problems and old age, but he will always be remembered for his work. His name translates to “warrior” from Swahili, and that’s truly what this gentle creature was.
Towan Was A True Tortured Artist
Until 2016, the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle was home to a prolific artist. Towan the orangutan had a spirit that could not be tamed. The primate-slash-tortured-artist attempted to escape the zoo several times (which is a testament to his intelligence.) Thankfully, he didn’t succeed because Seattle isn’t a very welcoming place for a monkey.
Throughout his 48-year life, Towan created gorgeous mixed media works of art using his sketchpad. He used a variety of mediums including toothbrushes, crayons and chalk to create the perfect picture. Unfortunately, Towan died in 2016 after suffering from complications during a medical procedure. His work was never forgotten.
Marsha Used Her Lips To Paint For Conservation
Marsha was 32 years old when she passed away after suffering from lethargy and a decreased appetite. While she was alive, the rhinoceros was inspiration to those looking to pursue the arts and fight for animal conservation.
Marsha came to the Oklahoma City Zoo in 1999 from a zoo in Chicago. She was one of the few rhinos recommended to breed (which is an unbelievably important role if you know just how endangered black rhinos are). Unfortunately, she never had any offspring, but did find solace in painting. The rhino was an avid painter and used her head to create works that raised money for conservation charities.
Not everyone is as adept as Marsha. Some animal painters make a total mess.
Cooper Prefers To Roll Around In Paint While Working
Cooper is somewhat of an amateur when it comes to art. The YouTube star, whose series Super Cooper Sunday has helped attract 3.5 million subscribers for his dad, tried his hand at painting for a special mother’s day present.
Much like a kid who finger paints for their mama’s mothers day card, Cooper hit the paint with his paws and cooked up a special work of art for his human mom. To save on the mess, his owner created a studio outside, but of course, Cooper and his pal Coda ended up rolling around in the blue paint. It may have been messy, but the picture turned out great.
These Sea Lions Fight Boredom With Art
It’s always tough finding a way for incredibly intelligent sea lions to beat boredom at the zoo. But Jen DeGroot, a marine mammalogist at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, found the perfect solution. Teach the sea lions to paint. Both Lea and Max learned how to create works of art by holding brushes in their mouths or using their flippers.
These “flipper prints” were then sold to raise money for animals at the Aquarium. Who knew zoo animals could have legitimate jobs? Sea lions are known for being able to learn some pretty impressive tricks, but painting is next level. Both Lea and Max were featured in a book called Fur in My Paint because of their impressive talents.
Maple Is A Musical Prodigy And Internet Star
Not every artist is a fine artist. Maple is an esteemed musician who’s in a band with her owner. Maples rose to fame on Vine as one half of Trench and Maples. Trench generally handles guitar duties while Maple slays the percussion. The pup has taken on bongos, glockenspiel and even the bass pedal of a kick drum (which is too cute to watch her hit with her tiny paws).
What makes Maple’s work so special is that it proves music has no bounds. If a dog can understand rhythm, it’s perhaps written into the very soul of every living being. That, or Maple is just a really, really good girl.
Flamingos Are The Ballet Dancers Of The Animal Kingdom
Forget Swan Lake. It should have been called Flamingo Pond. Flamingos may not be fine artists, but they are artists nonetheless. These creatures are known as nature’s greatest dancers and have a passion for a well-coordinated flash mob.Flamingos perform an elaborate dance to find their mate — but they don’t do it alone.
They have an entire dancing troupe and gather in flocks of up to 2.5 million birds to coordinate a flash mob. The routine starts with bobbing their heads side-to-side, continues with marching and dipping their beaks to touch their necks, then ends with a wing salute. They don’t even need a tutu because they’re already wearing pink.
If you think a flamingo’s dance is wild, wait until you see a puffer fish’s sandcastle.
Ella Fitzgerald Is Art’s Toughest Critic
Though Ella isn’t exactly an artist, there is an art to criticism. The esteemed pooch is one of Cambridge’s toughest art critics. The six-year-old golden retriever lives with artist Julia Powell and has been staring at her paintings for a week straight. “A week ago, I walked into my studio and she was already there,” Powell told Boston Magazine. “She was looking at this painting really intently.”
Since then, she’s continued scrutinizing the paintings and gets annoyed when she’s disturbed. Ella’s art criticism has garnered thousands of views on Instagram, proving you don’t need to be human to appreciate some awesome work.
These Cats Are Modern Day Pawcassos
You can’t teach a cat tricks, but you can trick a cat into creating a work of art. That’s exactly what happened to an unsuspecting Cole and Marmalade, who have amassed almost 1 million YouTube subscribers with their adorableness.
These Pawcassos created a meowsterpeice when their owner splattered paint on a canvas, covered it with plastic wrap (you don’t want messy pawprints all over your home) and played with the kitties until they walked across. The results are a finger painting that puts any 3-year-old to shame. There’s still no word if Cole and Marmalade kept up with their new hobby, but they certainly looked cute doing it.
Puffer Fish Have Mastered Sand Art
Remember that sand art you’d create at the shore when you were little? A puffer fish’s work is nothing of the sort. It actually puts your average human-made sandcastle to shame. Japanese puffer fish are known for their sandcastles. The art was discovered in 1995 when divers first noticed a bizarre, circular pattern on the ocean floor off the coast of Japan. The source of these underwater crop circles, as they were dubbed, was discovered a decade later.
Puffer fish are only around 5 inches long, but the males will relentlessly flap their fins along the seafloor to create a work of around 7 feet in diameter. When the piece is finished, the females come to look during the unofficial gallery opening. If they like what they see, the male puffer has found a mate.
Brent Won $10,000 For His Tongue Art
In 2013, a former lab chimp named Brent won $10,000 in a chimpanzee art contest run by the Humane Society of the United States. He gave the money, which was awarded to him after 27,000 people cast their votes, to his home sanctuary in north-west Louisiana.
So, how did the chimp make his prize-winning work? The primate opted not to use a brush like some of his competitors. Instead, he used his tongue to apply the paint and ended up scoring the most votes. Five other sanctuaries served as his competition, but his use of color — including blue, violet, yellow and turquoise — was the ultimate standout.
The second place chimp wasn’t half bad either.
Cheetah Came In Second Place
While Cheetah may have not taken home the $10,000 prize, this chimp is excellent at painting with his mouth (let’s just hope that paint is non-toxic before he cuts off his ear like Vincent Van Gogh).
Cheetah ended up placing in second for the Humane Society of the United States’ competition. Though he didn’t take home the gold, there’s no doubt his work was probably better than yours. Jane Goodall, the famed chimp researcher, actually ended up choosing his piece as her favorite. The mix of yellow, red and orange really stood out. Who knew chimps understood the color wheel?
This Chimp Fooled The Art World Into Thinking He Was Human
In 1964, an artist named Pierre Brassau debuted his avant garde work at an art show in Göteborg, Sweden. The show featured artists from England, Denmark, Austria, Italy and Sweden, but Brassau was the standout — critics, journalists and students unanimously praised it.
One lone critic wasn’t so impressed and declared that “only an ape could have done this.” Apparently, he wasn’t wrong. Pierre Brassau was actually a four-year-old West African chimp named Peter and called Sweden’s Boras Zoo home. The hoax was the creation of journalist Åke “Dacke” Axelsson, who convinced Peter’s keeper to give him a brush as a way of testing whether or not critics could tell the difference between modern art and something made by a money.