I do paint a lot of cows. Not exclusively, but lately it’s cows. They’ve been quietly present in my landscape since I can remember. 

As soon as the nipple came out of my mouth there was a jug of whole milk on the table, a thick cup with a beak, then a glass, then a milkshake with a straw, then milky tea, and coffee cream. Even Irish cream.

I like hot milk with honey when I know I will never sleep. Especially after I saw some baby boy calves wrenched from their mothers and confined to small plastic veal houses for the entirety of their lives. About twenty weeks. Cruelty keeps me awake and twisting away from ugly realities.

I paint the child’s idea of cows. I grew up watching them graze in fields by the side of the road. They looked sleek and content and well fed.  I didn’t realize the cows I saw were perpetually two years old, replaced every year by new ones. That is not quite accurate but it’s close enough. You don’t see old cows. They become hamburger. I don’t want to think of that. I will need more hot milk and honey to sleep, thus perpetuating the cycle of sadness.

I meant only to talk about some paintings. The essential shapes of cows at the periphery, yet at the centre of my world. Perfect blocks of contentment, holy in fields, solid and placid. Quick to alarm. They must know. They must sense that their elders are gone.

They don’t know that a six year old sits at a breakfast table, reading a cereal box after extracting the prize. They don’t know that her bowl is filled with their mother’s milk.

All images on this site copyright of the artist, Dawn Stofer, and reproduced by permission only.