December 09, 2022 12 min read

The Steel Cow Flower Art
Immersive Art Experience

How do you pick out names for your Floral Art?

Great question!

I don’t know about you - but I LOVE to know the reasoning behind art and paintings. The why, the how, the who and a few little details.

For me - without this bit of extra info - artworks become just colors and shapes on walls. Which is fine, but it doesn’t hold much meaning. And I want my home and walls to be packed with meaning.

I want to walk down the stairs in the morning and have my gaze linger on a painting for a few moments, remember happy things associated with that painting, then smile and start my day.

I like starting my day with a smile. My days seem to go better with a happy start.


    •    KENDIE
    •    LUELLA
    •    BLANCHE
    •    ELIZABETH
    •    VINCENT
    •    SHARON
    •    ALEXANDRA


I love art and art museums and when I was in college, I was an intern at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. I was only there for a summer - but I loved it! I worked in the kid’s education department and one of my favorite jobs was giving tours to museum visitors (kids and their parents.) As we walked around the galleries, I gave bite sized bits of information to visitors for every painting and artwork hanging on the wall and sculpture displayed on a pedestal.

Sure - we as visitors can walk through a gallery and look at paintings and read the title of the work and who created it. But it usually ends there. If we get more - even if it’s just a little bit - artworks seem alive and all of a sudden lots more thoughts and questions are swirling around in our heads. And that’s FUN!
I’ve not been to the immersive Van Gogh exhibit, but over 5 million people have experienced this and I’m sure millions more will. My parents just went to one in Jacksonville, Florida and said it was amazing. Storytelling mixed with 360 degrees of art and lights and history.

At some point, I think it would be so cool to do this with our flowers and flower art!
A Steel Cow Flower Art Immersive Experience. It could have flowers and kids and cows, and struggle and beauty and loads and loads of flowers. But - we aren’t there yet so a blog post will have to do!

When you take a tour of an art museum, you get in on the juicy tidbits. You get to know WHY an artist did what they did. You get to be in on the action (even if it happened a LONG time ago). And, most of us LOVE this. I know I do. We love learning about how and why an image came to be and love knowing a little bit more about the subject.

We love knowing that Vincent Van Gogh cut off part of his ear just after threatening his friend, Paul Gauguin, with a knife. Then Van Gogh gave that part of his ear to a nearby prostitute. After that he went to a mental institution where he produced some of his most amazing pieces of art - including Starry Night and Irisis.

We love to know that polar bears can smell a seal on the ice 20 miles away! And that their fur really isn’t white. It’s actually clear and hollow and we see a white bear when we look at them because the white sunlight reflects the two layers of fur they have! (I remember this tidbit from working at the National Museum of Wildlife Art 20 years ago.)

So, I thought it would be fun to imagine a gallery of my artworks hanging on the wall and to give you a little tour of the why and inspiration behind some of these artworks.

Note - I’m pretty sure I’m stable and not crazy. Which makes my story less compelling compared to some. (But they also say if you are loosing it - you are the last to know! HA!)

I’m a painter who became a mom who started growing flowers to keep my sanity.
I WAS close to loosing it - seriously close - but the flowers came into my life just in time and fortunately for my family, I didn’t have a breakdown and instead became OBSESSED with flowers and growing them, and cutting them, and arranging them, and photographing or painting them and creating artworks from them - and now sharing them with you!

(It’s a little weird talking about myself as the artist. Normally you would have someone else talk about your work - that’s kind of why galleries exist. But - I don’t have anyone like that and I want to get this out there. So - we’ll just have to deal with the weirdness……)

When I started creating art from flowers everything hummed along pretty smoothly. Short story is I picked out the seeds, bulbs, tubers or whatever bits I needed to grow the flowers. Then I planted them, tended to them, cut them, arranged them, took their photos (or painted them) and edited the the computer files.

But when it came to making and saving computer files to print out my artwork so I would have physical products to sell and share I ran into a bit of a roadblock.
How was I going to name these new works?

It may or may not seem like it - but for an artist, naming artworks can be a SUPER hard thing to do. Sometimes it’s easiest to just name it “Untitled” or “Untitled followed by a number,” but I didn’t want to do this for the floral art.
I’m an animal painter and for the past 18 years and counting I have been naming my cow and animal paintings after people I know (and giving them bios - which are super fun!)

I have Penelope who is a baby chick (and named for a friend), Xena (named for a friend) who is a Longhorn, Charlotte (name for a friend) who is a Black Angus cow and so on…..

Hi, my name is Penelope.  I love celery, watermelon and hanging out at home.  My friends call me Bob.

Hey ya'll, I'm Xena.

I'm a BIG fan of cowboy boots, belt buckles, and peanuts on the floor. I love line dancing on Saturday nights!

Hi, my name is Charlotte. 

I love the magic of freshly fallen snow, but I also adore flowers.  Sometime I am going to fill an entire room with just peonies and do nothing but sit and admire them for days.


But for the floral art paintings  - I wasn’t really sure how to name them. It didn’t seem to fit to just give them names as I do with the animal paintings. Naming them numbers was getting confusing and it was unoriginal to have 1, 2, 3, 4, ……. Up to 104 and more. That has no emotion at all!

Naming all of them by their type of flower would get challenging as I sometimes photograph the same type of flower (a LOT if I like it.) It does work for the first of something or for single flowers - for example Replete Daffodil. Or Columbus Tulip 1, 2 and 3 (which I do have!) 

But naming the artwork after the flower doesn’t work for arrangements. Sometimes I put 20+ different flower types in an arrangement. How does “Ammi, Red Lime Zinnia, Salmon Aster, Kelgai Ann Dahlia, Robin Hood Dahlia, Jowey Winnie Dahlia, Harry Sweet Pea mixed with Butterfly Ranunculus and Earl Grey Larkspur” sound for a title? Not very good! Lol

Then I thought - well if these artworks could come to life again and I could easily send them to absolutely anyone anywhere - who would I like to give the bouquet or flower arrangement to? 

And BOOM! All of a sudden I have hundreds of people I would like to give these beautiful flower arrangements to. Some people are alive, some people aren’t with us anymore. Some of these people I know and some I have only read about. 

And so (some of) the artworks are named people names because I was either thinking of that person while I was putting the arrangement together, or if I could, I imagine giving these flowers to this particular person - kind of like a virtual flower delivery.



As we move around my virtual blog-post gallery - here are some of the works I want to tell you a little bit more about.


This sweet flower arrangement is just perfect.

Put together in a wood-fired pottery bowl that my friend made, it’s packed with Roque Starburst, Jowey Winnie and Cornel Dahlias, Cherry Carmel phlox, Purity Cosmos, Selway Salmon Celosia, Pink and White Globe Amaranth, Salmon asters, Chantilly Snapdragons, Green Mist Ammi, Black Knight Pincushion and other flowers from my dream cutting garden. This is a dainty yet powerful arrangement that is sophisticated and whimsical and named for a dear friend.

I took this photo moments before the whole thing tipped over and came crashing down spilling water on me and smooshing most of the flowers! Luckily - I got the photo I needed right before disaster happened.

One of my favorite pieces of flower art!


My mom gave me this teapot for my 41st birthday (with the intention of me putting flowers in it for a piece of floral artwork.)

She got the teapot at an Amish garage sale! - I didn’t even know the Amish had garage sales, but apparently they love them and so does my mom!

This arrangement is packed full of beautiful flowers from my (Valerie Miller's) dream cutting garden. Cherry Caramel Phlox, Queen Lime Zinnias, Vegmo Single Feverfew, Candy Pink Strawflower, Black Knight Pincushion, Grandma Eink’s Dill, Chocolate Lace Flower Dara, some sort of purple salvia, Genovese Basil and Clary Sage.

It reminds me of all the fun tea parties my grandma, my sister and I used to have when I was little. Tea parties where we dressed up in fancy hats, held out our little pinkies and called each other names like Victoria and Luella.


I love this simple, colorful ranunculus arrangement in this winged turquoise Red Wing vase - It looks like a famous painting.
My grandpa Roger loved ranunculus and I grew them so I could remember him. Although ranunculus are super tricky to grow in Northeast Iowa they are completely worth it…


My 91 year old grandmother gave me the vessel these flowers are in for my birthday last year. She let me go down to her basement filled with antiques and pick something out. This is what I chose. It's a 1920's vintage Van Briggle Dragonfly Bowl and Flower Frog.

It’s kind of hard to see in the finished artwork, but the bowl was my great-grandmother Clara's (who I never knew). It’s fun to imagine what kinds of flowers Clara put in here 100 years ago!

I put in Oklahoma Ivory, Queen Lime Red and Zinderella Lilac Zinnias, Jowey Winnie, Senior’s Hope, Cornel Bronze, and Wine Eyed Jill Dahlias. Also packed in here are Purity Cosmos, Cherry Caramel Phlox, Sahara Black Eyed Susans, Snowberries, Dogwoods, Black Knight Pincushions, Chocolate Lace Flower Dara, Russian Sage, Lemon Mint Monarda, Rose Mint Agastache, Strawflower, Flamingo Feather Celosia and Garlic Chive Blossoms!


My sister Greta has my mom's old cowboy boots - the ones my mom got shortly after she got married. These are them! I honestly wanted these old Justin Boots, (and did have them for awhile).  But - my feet are too big for these boots so they are now Greta's.

This spring I was starting a new series of Flower Cowboy Boots and I was texting Greta photos of the artwork and telling her I needed more boots. Immediately Greta said "I'm coming home next month and I will bring my boots with me so you can put flowers in them!" And so she did!

Greta lives in Florida and when she came "home" with her family there was no more room in her suitcase for anything else. So she wore these boots home to Iowa.

When she was here - I picked some of my peonies that bloomed for the first time this year. She stayed for a week - her boots had a photoshoot - then she wore them back home to her current home in Florida.

I named this piece of artwork Elizabeth because in my mind peonies are the absolute Queen of the garden.

The peonies are Duchesse de Nemours and Coral Charm.


Inspired by Vincent van Gogh's famous sunflower paintings, this photograph is taken from sunflowers I grew on my flower farm.

I strategically picked flowers that looked liked the flowers in his paintings and arranged them in a vase I got from a very good friend that looks very much like the vase in van Gogh's famous 130 year old sunflower paintings.


This tulip arrangement is so very dramatic with gorgeous shades of white, dusty orange and regal purple set against a jet black background.
Named after a good friend who has excellent color taste, Sharon is truly one of my favorite pieces of flower art.

I took this photo last spring. It was shortly after our first fire at Steel Cow and I was overwhelmed with the kids, planting my spring garden and fire cleanup, so my mom took the boys for the night.

Josh and I wanted something sweet to eat (that we didn’t have to share with the kids!) So we made a whole pan of cinnamon rolls - just to ourselves!

When the cinnamon rolls were sufficiently eaten, I was noticing how pretty the black baking stone we used was - and then I was looking at the very last of my tulips blooming in a vase on the counter. I cut the last of the tulips pretty little heads off, arranged them on our baking sheet and this is the result!

The tulips in this arrangement are Mondial, Sensual Touch and Blue Parrot


This is one of the last arrangements I made in 2021 - I picked every flower left in my garden the night before a great big frost, then when my garden was mostly dead the next day instead of moping about - I spent the day putting this beautiful arrangement together in one of my favorite pieces of Red Wing Pottery .

It’s a pretty good metaphor for life. You can mope about and focus what you don’t have or what you’ve lost - or you can embrace what you do have and be grateful for that!

I’m so glad I took the time to cherish the flowers I did have and put them together in a piece of art - because now we can enjoy this piece forever! (And - so far it’s been one of our most popular pieces of floral art!)

The flowers in this arrangement are: Black Eyed Susans, Sumac, Persian Carpet Zinnias, Black Knight Pincushion, Purity Cosmos, Pink Candy Strawflower, Raider Blue Delphinium, Garlic Chive Blossoms, Ageratum, Lamb’s Quarters, Flamingo Feather Celosia, Pumpkins on a Stick, Summer Berries Yarrow, Verbena, Vegmo Single Feverfew, Globe Amaranth, Euphorbia and Snapdragons.


So there you have it.

A gallery museum-inspired peak behind some of the first Steel Cow floral art arrangements. I have lots more flower arrangement photos on my computer that I will be editing and putting on the website in the months to come, but for now this has been a fun tour, Thanks for joining me!

I know it wasn’t exactly like a “real” gallery tour where you can ask questions as we go - so if you have any questions - please feel free to ask them below in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.


Now I will walk you out past the virtual “Gift Shop”

(I LOVE museum gift shops - they seem to have all the good stuff)

For our virtual gift shop I want to point out that all the above artworks are for sale on our website and I included links below the images if you would like to bring any of these artworks home to remember your tour today or maybe you have some people you would like to give these flower arrangements to.

At the moment all our prints are stretched canvas prints. They are ready to hang from the box and are not framed - but are easy to get framed if that’s how you would like to display them. Most of them are available in 3-5 sizes depending on what you are looking for.


Not looking for a canvas print? No worries, we have smaller items too:

Here are some featured magnet sets that look great on any fridge and are strong magnets:



And here are some stickers for sale. I painted these flowers from flowers that grew on our flower farm. They are super fun too and work great on water bottles and coolers and are wonderful for you or the gardeners in your life!



And just like a museum gift shop - all the purchases go to help the organization - in our case our small business and family farm.

We truly thank you for your support! All of our products are Made in Iowa by us from our Steel Cow studio.

And if you are just here for bits of information and beautiful images - that’s wonderful too! We’re glad you’re here and thanks for joining us on our tour!


With Love,

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