Farm Horizons, May 2005

Cows are inspiration for local artist Bonnie Mohr

By Heidi Stutelberg

“I’ve milked them, I’ve shown them, I’ve been around them my whole life.”

That seems to sum up the inspiration for talented artist Bonnie Mohr about the focus of her art: cows.

A self-taught artist, Mohr embraces the life and the hard work of a dairy farm, while she paints her favorite breed, the Holstein, as well as other agricultural scenes.

Mohr grew up on a dairy farm near Gibbon, being one of eight children.

“I never guessed when I spent all those hours working with our cows as a girl, that one day, I would be painting them on a canvas,” stated Mohr.

She and her husband, John, along with five children ranging in ages from 5 to 14, and a few hired hands raise Holstein dairy cows on their farm six miles north of Glencoe.

From her second-floor art studio in their home, Mohr’s view of their dairy farm and cows grazing in the pasture have been inspiring her to create peaceful countryside scenes and farm animal portraits since 1988. “The majority of my painting material is in my backyard,” Mohr said.

When Mohr is working on a painting in her studio, her children will join her from time to time, and work on their creative projects.

Painting with oil paints, Mohr has earned a reputation as America’s eminent bovine painter, due in large part, to her painstaking attention to detail.  

Her artwork continues to meet the demanding standards established by experienced industry people, as well as the discerning eye of the knowledgeable art collector.

Mohr wrote the following excerpt for a print released last fall titled, “Celebration of Cows.” It expresses her feelings as to why the Mohrs raise cows and love the life of dairying.

“It began when we were young. It began with our first calf.  Ideas and inspirations of owning our own cows grew. We grew, too.

“We began to dream of breeding, owning, and showing the champion, the best of the best. Dairying became our way of life. Cows are the cornerstones of our business.

“We care for them, we milk them, we get kicked by them, we fit them, we chase them, we judge them, we show them, we love these awesome creatures. It is a story that we live, because it is who we are.

“We embrace the hard work, and endure low milk prices and rained-on hay because we have the passion and stamina to be part of the best industry in the world. The influence of our cows has given us more joy in life than we ever dreamed possible.”

“My work reflects the simple pleasures in life. The sweet clover scent of summer pastures in June, the black and white pattern of Holstein cows against the early morning sun, bonding between a mother and newborn babies. My work is who I am,” wrote Mohr about her oil paintings.

Before she begins to paint, Mohr has a strong vision. The painting starts with a sketch.

“It takes a lot of hard work to make it happen,” Mohr commented. A painting may take anywhere from one to six weeks to complete, depending on its size and detail.

Never knowing if she’ll come across an inspiration for a future painting, Mohr often takes her camera along when leaving the farm.  “A lot of my paintings are a collage of many pictures,” said Mohr.  

She has been able to get pictures for reference while traveling around the United States, and when the family went to the Canadian Royal Winter Fair one year.

Mohr has completed commissioned paintings for many companies, organizations, and individuals such as, Purina Mills, 3M, Cargill, Select Sires, American Jersey Cattle Club, Pennsylvania Guernsey Breeders Association, Holstein Association, Inc., and Hansen BioSystems. Her images have also been licensed for use for Rosedale wall coverings and fabric, Dansbury Mint collector plates, and LBG Greeting cards.   

Her beautiful artwork has also been featured in publications such as Agri News, Farm and Ranch Living, Holstein World, Farm & Livestock Directory, Dairyman’s Digest, US Art, InformArt, Country Woman Magazine, Country, Hoard’s Dairyman, and Dairy Today.

Mohr’s prints are available signed and numbered, as artist proofs and in open editions.

At her store on the farm, many prints are sold with frames and with mats, ready-to-be-framed, in note card sets as well as in giclee (pronounced Gee-clay).  

A giclee is a high-resolution digital print which looks and feels like original art. Giclee prints are made on real artist materials, such as watercolor papers and canvas, being the closest option to an original.

Anyone interested in visiting the Bonnie Mohr Studio may call (320) 864-6642 or 800-264-6647 for directions. The studio/store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bonnie Mohr prints are sold in art galleries throughout the U.S. and through the Bonnie Mohr Studio.  

To view all of her work , visit her website at

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