Wow, I can't believe it is already the last day of 2016. I'm sure I'm not alone in this category, but time sure does fly!
As I was preparing to write my last blog post/newsletter of this year, I was planning on adding the pictures of all of the new "girls and friends" I painted this year and calling it good. But then I started looking at ALL the pictures Josh and I took this year and I realized the new paintings I did are only a fraction of Steel Cow and my life in 2016.
So, I thought I would make up for all those blog posts/newsletters I didn't write in 2016 and give you guys a glimpse into my life at the moment and during the last year. (And also show you guys why I am not very good at keeping up with blog posts - I have these two adorable little guys who are almost always with me and most of the time I am playing with them!)
In a nutshell, 2016 for me, was about life. I know that life is always about life, but for the first time probably ever, this year I actually slowed down and embraced the daily life that is so amazing. Sure, I painted when the boys slept during naps and late into the nights, and during the summer I had great babysitters during the mornings for Eddie and Harry, (so I was able to get some new paintings in), but for the most part I had a wonderful time just living and being content. I have always pushed myself, working on something or a combination of things, and have pretty much always felt like I should be doing something productive and working on bettering myself for the future at all times. I don't know if that makes much sense, but it's hard to just be when you are in this mindset.
Harry will be two in April, and until this past August he was a TERRIBLE sleeper. If he was up three times during the night, it was a good night. I was able to do this for awhile, but during the first part of this year, after many many months of this, I was pretty much destroyed on most levels of comprehension and feeling good. So, I let go of most of my drive to push through things to get things done. I seriously felt like if I tried to push myself anymore I was going to crumble.
I just gave in. If I got something done that day then great, if not, then that was great too. If I made a mistake (which I did a lot during this time), then I would apologize, not think anything of it and move on. I took more naps this year than when I was a baby (apparently I slept through the night from day one.) I didn't have the energy to plan or think of "future" things. I had my plate full with just trying to get a full night's sleep, which finally happened sometime in August. Thank goodness I had (and still have) Josh to keep Steel Cow running!
Anyway, I know this is already turning into a long blog post, and there is probably way too much information. But, during this time of not much sleep, I was able to let myself just enjoy time with my two favorite little guys, Eddie and Harry. And we have had tons of fun over the past year. And looking back through the 2016 photos this morning, I am remembering even more fun we had in 2016. It was a really great year. And I don't want to sound cliche, but little boys are only young once, and it is OH SO MUCH FUN watching these guys grow up and having so much fun being little boys. Not that I would have missed it had Harry not thrown my life upside down, but I really do think things happen for a reason and I think I needed something (my mom likes to call this a swift kick in the butt) to slow me down and enjoy the everyday.
I know this doesn't have anything much to do with Steel Cow, other than the fact that I'm writing it, but I can't help myself, here is our 2016:
We played a lot, we rode bikes a lot, we baked, golfed, painted and camped. We spent time with friends, grandparents and cousins. We traveled to Arizona, Door County, Wisconsin Dells, Florida, Illinois and Colorado. We also danced, strengthened family relationships and met new friends. We took lots of naps! We watched, poured, gardened and sang. We grew. We went on farm visits and and had tea parties. We played in the mud and played on tractors. We stuck our hands in wet cement. We took baths and played in the sprinklers. We ate. A lot. We cried, had tantrums and fights. And it was a great year.
I hope 2017 is a wonderful year for you and yours. Happy New Year!
p.s. If you are interested in taking a brief look at "the girls and friends" I added this year (in case you may have missed any), here they are......
Wahoo! I just finished the painting I painted for the 50th celebration of World Dairy Expo this year. Meet Regina.
Hi, my name is Regina. I like fine china, silver spoons and chippy paint. I collect vintage wire baskets.
Regina is an older Holstein, who to me, seems like she knows more than the average cow. She seems completely at peace with herself and happy to just be. I wrote about her in my first blog, so I won't go into too much depth here, but she is from my cousin's farm and her milk goes into some of WW Homestead Dairy's products (a local Iowa dairy started, owned and operated by a couple of my uncles and another family.)
World Dairy Expo is only a few days away, and as I mentioned before, is the only show we do a year. This year is the 50th celebration, and we will be exhibiting in the exhibition hall lobby as usual. We will have more merchandise than ever before, including lots of Regina things, but we usually sell out of several things each year (as we have great expo specials) so if you are going to the show be sure to stop by to shop and say hello if you get a chance. If you aren't going to the show and would still like to shop, keep your eyes on our Facebook and Instagram pages as we will have some great 50th celebration expo specials available to our Facebook and Instagram fans!
We have been busy making products for the show, and this week is a busy week for us as we finish making our products to bring with us to Madison for the show, which runs from October 4-8th.
Our 2017 calendars will be in from the printers this week as well and Regina made the front cover! Her name means "Queen," so we didn't feel like we really had much of a choice in who to include for the cover. The calendars will be available up on our website soon, and if you want one, check back in the next few days as we usually sell out.
Well, this is a bit of a short blog post and is a bit rushed, but I have a lot of things to do before next week, we have my sister and her family in town this week, Eddie may or may not be coming down with something. So, I better put the boys down to bed and get working!
Thanks for being a Steel Cow fan!
As many of you know, I name most of my paintings of "The Girls and Friends" after my family and friends. I don't know why I do this exactly - it just seems like something I should do.
In our herd we have my grandmothers Arlene and Kate, and my aunts Virginia, Barbara, Shirley, Sarah and Joyce. We also have my sister Greta, brother-in-law Benton, cousins Anna and Jeff, and friends Ali, Mary Anne, and Sharon - just to name a few. My new goat painting is no exception! Freda is the newest member of the Steel Cow family, and she is a sweet Nubian goat named for my very favorite (and only) niece Freda.
Freda the niece is four years old now and about three months older than Eddie. She doesn't really look much like a Nubian goat, but she was still my muse for this painting. Freda is a sweet, adventurous, smart, life-loving little girl who likes most of the things that Freda the goat does. She has beautiful curly red hair and an attitude to match.
(Photo by Kayla Bailey of FOHH Photography)
Freda and her family (my sister Greta and brother-in-law Ben) moved to Florida a couple of years ago, so even though we don't get to see her as often as we would like, when we do see her we love every minute of it. Especially Eddie, who loves his little cousin like none-other.
Here are some photos of Freda and Eddie.
They are just so cute and I can picture them getting into a lifetime of trouble together :0 Eddie turns four this week and is so exited as Freda and her family are coming to Iowa to visit for his birthday!
Whenever I travel, I usually bring my camera along (as I never know when I am going to come across a great photo for a future painting.) Freda the goat is a goat we met on a trip to visit my sister and her family when they were still living in Kansas. Freda the goat lives at Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead - a wonderful turn-of-the-century farm that brings "the charm of the farm to children living in the city" (according to their website.)
They really do a great job at introducing and educating visitors on farm life - and even if you are on the farm every day, this farmstead is a very fun place to meet baby goats, cows, chickens and other animals. (I know this is a sign for another place to visit, but this is a sign on the farmstead and it is a good one!) They also have a fishing pond, pony rides and many other activities. I think we visited Deanna Rose almost every time we visited Greta and Ben when they lived in Kansas, (and Freda the niece just adored visiting every chance she could get.) I also met Benton the rooster at the farmstead! If you are ever in the Kansas City area, Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead is definitely worth a trip.
I am just now starting to take some photos of my paintings in settings you would see in real life. Here are a few of Freda. Because you never know when you need a big goat on your wall (or a small one on a shelf.) Just for reference - the below prints of Freda are 40"x40" and 20"x20"
You may be wondering where the title "Freda Pants" came from. I call Freda this, I don't know why - maybe it's because she doesn't really like wearing pants. At least this way she can have pants of some sort in her life, even if it is in her nickname from her auntie Val.
Thanks for being a fan of Steel Cow and I hope you enjoyed meeting the Freda behind the Freda!
For my second official Steel Cow blog post I thought I would give you guys a “behind the scenes” glimpse at Sawyer – my newest (and so far only) Donkey painting.
I’ve not spent much time around donkeys (as I usually spend all my time around cows), but as I am painting more farm animals lately I decided that needed to change. So I recently made a trip to the country to meet and take some photos of a few donkeys for a new painting.
Donkeys are so funny and so sweet! And I just love their ears. I brought Eddie (our almost four year old) and my mom with me for the adventure (in addition to being fun for Eddie - I think it’s important for him to see what I do.) I brought mom to keep an eye on Eddie so I could make sure to get the photos I wanted.
The donkey’s owners brought them up to their arena so I could get some good shots of them – which worked out really well. These donkeys were so friendly it was tough getting photos, as they really just wanted to be petted. So, I put my mom and Eddie to work keeping them occupied a little ways away from me so I could take some good photos.
My mom ended up being a huge help as she quickly became a donkey whisperer. Eddie quickly became not a huge help as he just ran in circles outside the arena. And, of course, the donkeys were happy to run in circles with him. Not so good for photos - but it was sure fun watching a little boy and three donkeys run in circles! Eddie quickly became tired out, and once he sat down I was able to get a few good shots for the painting.
Here’s the painting during its first hour or so when I first started working on it in July– I’m actually painting in my mobile studio (our camper) on a camping trip to Colorado. I finished the painting in my main studio, and then thought I needed a few shots of the finished painting in a “real life” environment.
Last week Eddie was visiting his other grandparents in Illinois, so it was just me and Harry. I thought I could do a bit more work during the day without Eddie than I normally do with Eddie, so Harry came with me to the cabin I used for the photo shoot. At first Harry was content to just wander around, not really getting into much as I moved furniture and hung paintings on the walls.
Then he started getting fussy, so I gave him an apple, sat him on the chair and asked him to feed the apple to Sawyer (the donkey), never thinking he actually would. (Harry is not quite one and a half so he sometimes understands us but most of the time not.) But, this time, Harry ever so gingerly turned around and offered his apple to Sawyer and I was quick enough to capture it on my camera. He only did this for a second before he tossed the apple, the pillow and then was done – but I got what I needed!
You can find all of Sawyers items including mugs, pillows, canvas prints, paper prints, clocks and totes here: https://www.steelcow.com/collections/meet-the-girls/products/sawyer
Thanks for being a fan of Steel Cow and I hope you enjoy the new donkey painting!
Well, apparently I can't run from blogging anymore.
Josh has been after me to start a blog for years, and although I felt the tug and agreed with him that I needed to, there is always something that stands in my way. Two little boys, a painting that needs to be worked on, orders that need to get out - you get the picture. But tonight I blog. Please don't be too harsh on me - I really do work better in pictures.
My first official Steel Cow blog post coming right up.........
I can't believe World Dairy Expo is only a month away! For those of you who don't know, World Dairy Expo is the one show we do a year. It is hard for Josh and I (husband and wife) to do shows these days. Eddie and Harry (soon to be four and one and a half) are with us most all of the time, and to be away from them is difficult. This year they will be spending the week at Grandma's, so for the first time in 4 years we will be without kids for the show. I am almost positive it is going to feel like a vacation. (A bit of Steel Cow trivia - we brought Eddie for the week to his first World Dairy Expo when he was only 8 days old!)
This year World Dairy Expo turns 50 and the theme is Celebrate 50! We hear there are going to be lots of attendees and we will be ready with more super cool Steel Cow prints and merchandise (including mugs, clocks, calendars, bags, magnets, ornaments, and our new pillows....maybe even a milk can or two) than ever before! We are quite excited to help World Dairy Expo celebrate the big 50 and we thank all of you who have been a part of the previous Expos, whether you showed cows, exhibited or attended in years past. According to their website, World Dairy Expo attracts more than 70,000 people from over 90 countries to Madison, Wisconsin each year. This year's event will take place October 4-8, 2016.
We truly love being part of such a great show and enjoy seeing many of you during the first week in October. If you do make it to the show please make sure to stop by our booth to say hi and see our new paintings. And if you can't make the show in person, stop by our facebook page that week as we will be having some of our World Dairy Expo specials available to those of you who can't visit us in person.
I am working on this new painting that will be finished in time for World Dairy Expo. She doesn't have a name yet and she is not completed, but here she is in progress on my easel. The cow is from my cousin's dairy farm just outside of Waukon, IA (where we are located.)
When I went to their farm a couple of weeks ago to take photos for the new painting, I was looking for a sweet, mature and wise barn cow and I think she is the perfect model for this painting. Man I love visiting farms to meet the animals. Each time I go, it is so much fun and I don't want to leave. I almost came home with a goat for our roof from this photo trip. (I may have gotten a goat but probably would have had a very unhappy husband and City of Waukon - so I unfortunately came home empty handed goat-wise.) On my visit, I snapped this photo of my little cousin in the barn. He is a great farm helper and was on the lookout for his favorite cow that morning.
Anyway, I better get back to painting while I still have an hour or so left of night-time painting. I can't believe I have turned into a night-time painter. So many things change when you have kids!
Thanks for reading and being a fan of Steel Cow!
Meet...Walter! Hi, I'm Walter. I love eating peanut butter and chocolate and playing the piano. I dream of being a pilot.
Now I know what some of you might be thinking...A pig...but she paints cows! Yes, I do paint cows, along with chickens, and pigs, and horses, etc. etc. etc., but don't worry cow fans, I will keep painting "the girls". We just thought it was high time "the girls" got some friends, so at the end of 2014 we added the first two of many "friends" that will be joining "the girls" at Steel Cow. Keep checking back in 2015 to see who, and what, else join "the girls" of Steel Cow.
Thanks for making 2014 a great year for art and animals and welcoming so many of "the girls" into your lives. From all of us at Steel Cow, Happy New Year!