HELLO STEEL COW FRIENDS!
I hope you are all doing well during these winter days. In Northeast Iowa where we live winter just keeps plugging along with another snowstorm yesterday and more snow in the forecast. We haven’t had this much snow in years, and although I am ready for spring and flowers any time, all the snow sure is pretty!
STEEL COW TURNS 15!
We will be celebrating Steel Cow’s 15th Anniversary in March! I am amazed at how quickly the last 15 years has gone by for me. Josh and I are still deciding how we will be celebrating our 15 year anniversary, but I know we will have some new products, new sizes of existing products, new paintings and some fabulous deals! We will be sending out some emails, and will also post on Facebook and Instagram to keep you up to date as many of our promotions will be just a few days - so check on us often if you don't want to miss anything.
Here is a sneak peak of a new cow I started a couple of nights ago. (I'm not getting to the studio as much these days with having three boys now - so I’m making do and this is a kitchen painting! And of course Harry wanted to paint a cow too, so here he is also working away on his.)
HISTORY OF STEEL COW
I know some of you already know our story, but some of you may not as you are new to Steel Cow - so here’s a short synopsis of Steel Cow and how it came to be. I’m sure it will be longer than I intend - so feel free to skim the story, but if you are interested, this gives you a bit more info of who we are.
When I was a kid my mom told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted and I have always wanted to be an artist - from as long as I can remember. I can recall turning 7 and blowing out my birthday candles and wishing I would grow up to be an artist. When I was younger I loved animals of all kinds. I also sketched, drew and painted a lot - always working towards getting better and developing my skills. But it wasn’t until a trip to Switzerland with my family in 1998 that I fell in truly love with cows.
I was 17 and after graduating from high school, our family went on a trip to Switzerland to visit Bernie, the foreign exchange student my dad had when he was in high school and it was amazing!
(My Mom, sister, brother and me - I'm on the right - on a picnic in the Alps)
One day Bernie took turns giving my brother, sister and me rides on the back of his Harley Davidson motorcycle. This was the day that really changed my life. When I was on the back of the motorcycle we rode through the gorgeous scenery of the Swiss Alps. We rode by so many cows, I could hear the cow bells of the Swiss cows above the roar of the motorcycle and see the cows with the snow capped mountains in the background and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. When we stopped for lunch there were cows right there with us and they were big, brown, beautiful and perfect.
(My mom with some non-Brown Swiss Cows)
From that point on in our vacation the photos I took during the trip were pretty much only photos of cows and not many of our family. (This was before digital photographs so we had to carefully choose how to use our film - and of course the cows rose right to the top of my image capturing priorities!)
When I returned from our trip, I went away to college for art that following fall and started painting cows in my art classes and never looked back. I met my husband Josh the first week of college and we started dating as soon as I thought I had things under control (I sometimes take things a bit too seriously and was double majoring in art and business and was also playing Division 1 golf - so it took me a month or so to get my bearings.) Anyway, once Josh and I started dating I knew we were meant to be, and once college was over we were married.
Shortly after we were married (there is actually another long story here for another time) we started Steel Cow and JLMiller Company (Josh’s furniture company) in Waukon, Iowa in the building my great great grandfather built in the 20’s for his funeral home and furniture store. I was 23.
At first I only painted original paintings of cows and some portraits of dogs. I also held art classes for kids and adults (which was actually super fun but once I became busier with Steel Cow I stopped teaching them.)
A few years into our businesses, Josh and I purchased the building we were in from my family and spent two years completely remodeling it both inside and out. It was a lot of work (more so for me since I wasn't used to it!) But we have preserved the original tin ceilings on all three floors, the original wood floors, and the structure and character of the building and it will not need more work for 100 years. Now we make and ship our products from this location, and my studio is also on the second floor.
As the years went on we moved from original painting to prints and have embraced technology as it allows us to offer more items at lower prices. Josh is highly skilled in the shop and highly skilled with printing (his degree is in printmaking and sculpture) and so we make most all of our products ourselves from the printing to the stretchers. This allows us to have complete control over our products which ensures they all look great!
MOM TO THREE BOYS!
These days I’m spending more time with our three little boys (Eddie 6, Harry 3, and Ellis 8 months) than I am painting, but this year I will get back to my paints more as the boys are getting older and can play while I paint. I’m pretty sure I’m biased, but I’m also pretty sure we have the cutest best baby in the whole entire world and have some pretty handsome older boys too! I love the stage our kids are in now. It’s a stage filled with wonder and imagination, play tents, cowboys, fishing, and dress up. It also a very busy, messy time but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019
My style has changed over the years and I have recently started painting other animals, but I will never be done painting cows as they are still so beautiful to me. We have lots of paintings planned for 2019, but if you have any requests for new breeds of cows or animals - please let me know! I’m already planning lots of farm visits to take photos of animals this year.
As always, thanks for taking an interest in Steel Cow - we wouldn’t be here today without you bringing my images into your homes, businesses and farms and I am so happy and grateful that we get to provide you with handmade products you enjoy and treasure so much, and we also hope you have room in your collection for more animals from Steel Cow :).
All the best and here’s to another great 15 years of Steel Cow!