Often times I have seen many Hindu based gatherings via the internet where live elephants are involved. One thing I have seen is a sort of paint creating a very beautiful design on the elephant's face. I wish to know if this symbolizes anything for Hinduism or if it is a regional practice. Because I have wished to incorporate that into my own artwork and I don't want to make anything offensive. Does the paint hold any religious significance and will I not anger several people?
As far I know most of the time the paintings are done as a decoration. You may see a few symbols like Ohm or Swastika or a Naama(thilak) which do hold religious significance, but mostly they are are nice designs like flowers.
If you want to make use of them in your artwork, you may stick to the non-religious symbols if you are not certain, but the general painting of elephants itself is not a religious ceremony.
Also, you may want to take a look at decorated cows and oxen as well (from south India). We sometimes even use balloons and glitter papers. It is just an expression of happiness and affection mostly.