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Matilda the painted cow CowParade Boston

Matilda de Cow
(CowParade Boston 2006)***

***scroll down to read Matilda's CowParade Diaries

Matilda de Cow was a character I created for the CowParade Boston. She is the embodiment of the Roaring Twenties. Matilda is a true fashionista, with her beautiful dress featuring the 1920's nightclub on one side and a street from the same time period on the other. Before I started painting Matilda I did a very extensive research, since I wanted every bit of my Flapper Cow to look authentic. Every detail on Matilda was done in Art Deco style. Even her shoes! I found them in a fashion book from the 1920's. While I was painting Matilda, she kept herself busy by keeping an online diary. Surprisingly enough she also had business cards with the web address for her blog which she gave to all her admirers whether big or small. ...and she had a lot of admirers, who came to see her transformation into a Flapper on a regular basis.

P.S. Matilda currently resides in Paris, France.

CowParade Diaries by Matilda de Cow

Name: Matilda de Cow
Sex: Female
Nationality: American
Eyes: Green
Height: 5'
Length: 8'
Weight: 120 lb
Mission in life: To appear in CowParade Boston and to help the Jimmy fund of Dana-Farber Cancer Center to raise money to fight cancer in both kids and adults.

Matilda de Cow picture Matilda's face from a side
Blank Cow Parade cow sculpture


I have finally arrived! The CowParade people delivered me to a beautiful store in which I was told is called West Hartford Center. I'm a little bit confused as to why the store is called "European Tailoring" because as far as I know I was supposed to be painted, not dressed in real clothes... Not that it matters. At this point I'll take anything. It's so boring being blank! Although I know that it works for some sculptures. However, what works for Venus de Milo might not necessarily work for a big boned girl like me. The first person that I met named Inna turned out to be a tailor whose store I was placed in. She put a nice lace shawl on me and placed a beautiful red rose behind my ear, which made me think that maybe I'm going to be painted as a Spanish dancer. I also got a nice antique feather hat which I really like a lot. My only concern is that it won't stay on when they place me outside somewhere in Boston, which is the destination of the show I'll be participating in. I'm not sure where exactly that mysterious Boston is, but I hope it's not very windy there. I've heard from other cows that once they had a CowParade in a windy city. I'm just hoping that they were referring to a place other than Boston.


Today was the most wonderful day ever. I finally met the artist who would be painting me! It means that I'll have eyes, mouth, and whatever else self-respecting cows are supposed to have! This morning started out being a little bit confusing. Inna brought two people with her and introduced them as Natasha Sazonova (her daughter) and Guy-Michael Grande. She said that one of them was an artist who will be painting me and another was a musician and song-writer.
They started taking pictures with me and although I liked the attention I was dying to find out who was who.

When I found out that Natasha was the artist I assumed that she will be painting me, since I don't know that many musicians that paint cows. Natasha confirmed my guess and we talked for the rest of the day about her credentials. After all my appearance was on the line, I wanted to make sure she knew what she was doing. She told me that she had painted a cow once before and had been creating artwork since she was a two-year-old calf (or whatever little humans are called) and I became udderly happy, because I felt that I could trust her.

Before and after photo


Today turned out to be another interesting experience. I was observing Natasha this morning and came to a very interesting conclusion: not every artist has a concrete plan of action when they are creating a work of art. She certainly doesn't. She spent about an hour just walking around me and looking at me from every possible angle. I didn't want to interrupt her, but I was too curious to keep quiet. I finally asked what she was doing and Natasha replied that she was creating a mental sketch. It turned out that she doesn't like doing real sketches beforehand. Instead, she looks at her canvas and figures out where everything is supposed to go by the slight variations of the canvas' color. She told me that the image is always already there and she just takes her time to be able to see what exactly it is. In my case, she was staring at the primer covering my body, trying to see people in the slight variations of the white. She took a few photos and showed me her technique. See it for yourself. Look at the "before" photo and see if you can figure out what Natasha saw in it. Then look at the "after" photo to compare your results with hers. It's really fascinating. Really!


I had a very nice and long weekend. I was reading for the most part of it. Natasha brought me a lot of books that she has on Art Deco, so I'll have a better understanding of what kind of design will be covering my body. She even took out quite a few books on the subject from a local library. Apparently she's really into the art of the 1920's. Natasha says that in her previous life she was growing up during that time and that's why she's been so interested in it ever since she was a little girl. I was a bit surprised when she said it, but then I remembered that artistic people tend to be a bit cuckoo and decided to let it go. So what if she believes in past lives? That's a nice belief, which made me think that maybe in my previous life I was living in the 1920's too. After looking at all of Natasha's books I decided that being a Flapper would've been really cool. Of course, pretty soon I'll experience it again. My dress is coming along pretty nicely and I have a feeling that I'll be a beautiful Flapper cow in no time. Although Natasha doesn't really work all that fast and tends to change things that she's already painted. For example, the very first thing that she did today was changing the color on one of the thing that she painted yesterday. Go figure.


I finally have an explanation for all the color changes and the dark pink spot painted in the middle of my udders. I'm going to have a beautiful pink and green dress! Although this color combination is more Art Nouveau than Art Deco, I decided not to make too much fuss about it and let my artist do what she wants, which is apparently to scare her mother and I with her bold use of bright colors. I was pretty happy when Natasha was painting flowers on my side, but I really freaked out when she put a bright pink spot on my back. Right after that she added a bright green stripe right under the pink spot. Of course I couldn't see my side right away, but when I saw Inna's reaction I asked for a mirror. And it was scary! Although, Natasha convinced me that there's nothing to be afraid of, because she has a plan. Her mother reassured me that she was telling the truth. Apparently Natasha always works like that. First she puts a lot of bright colors on canvas, scaring the living hell out of the people who see it, and then she tones them down. I guess I have to trust her...


Alleluia! Today I got my first scene involving fully painted people. The weird looking bright spots on my back turned out to be beautiful curtains with lots of cute little buttons on them! And there it was, right under the curtains with buttons where Natasha painted 'my' first people. Guess what? They are waiters and cooks. Of course, being a cow I've never went to a restaurant in my entire life, but now I'm seriously considering going to one. If people who work there look so elegant I can only imagine how good the food must be. Almost forgot! I don't have any taste buds. Being a fiberglass cow is so hard... Although, I do have my fun after Natasha leaves every night to go home. Inna has many beautiful things in her shop, including antique shawls, hats and purses, so when everyone is gone I try them on, which is a lot of fun. The only problem is my size. I'm so big that it gets a bit hard maneuvering around sewing machines, dress forms, lamps, and vases. I'm beginning to understand how a bull must feel in a china shop. He must feel exactly like a cow in a tailoring shop!

Detail from a CowParade Cow


The magic continues. Seeing new characters appear on my back is really exciting. Although most of them are just penciled in for now I'm already beginning to feel like a real CowParade cow. Gradually my white areas will disappear and I'll have a beautiful dress made out of little scenes involving little people, each one with a life story of their own. Natasha always comes up with a story behind each person that she creates, as she explained to me. For example, the waiter whose bow tie the maƮtre d' is fixing (in the photo on your right) is dreaming of becoming a movie star. He comes from Finland and has a thick Finnish accent, but since the movies in his time are still silent he believes that his good looks are more than enough for him to make it in the industry. I hope he does make it. Although I'm not so sure about the other waiter. It seems that if he takes another step he'll fall down into... Well, I'm not sure what's down there. I asked Natasha about that and she told me not to worry, because behind the leaves there's a hidden staircase, which we can't see, but have to remember that it's there.


The day started when Natasha came in carrying a few thick books. They were about jazz. At first she said that she brought them because she needed to do a little research. She spent about an hour looking at them. Then she started painting jazz musicians on the stage she drew yesterday. Every ten minutes or so Natasha would pick up one of the books again and look at it. When I asked her why she was doing it, she said that she was replenishing her inspiration. Personally, I think that she was trying to find her inspiration in the photos of young Chet Baker, since she mostly looked at his photos. Can you blame her? If I were human I'd like his photos too. Oh, yeah! I almost forgot. Today we were listening to jazz for the most of the day. Natasha said that it helped her to paint the faces on the musicians more realistically. It was as if they were listening to the music with us.

I noticed something funny today. When Natasha is working on one of the characters' faces she herself makes the face that she's working on. Today she was going from a trumpet player with inflated cheeks to a dreamy piano player in the matter of minutes. I suppose if somebody saw her face without seeing what she was doing they would probably think that she's insane. Natasha also tends to make the gestures of her characters herself; so sometimes it's both her face and her arms that are engaged. I guess artistic people are pretty weird...

Dancers on Matilda's belly


Today Natasha added another stage to the stage that we already had and added even more dancers. Apparently she wanted the 1920's club on my side to look more 'happening' as she put it. I guess adding more dancers creates a 'happening' atmosphere. I personally have never been to a club in the 1920's or any other decade for that matter. But I got to admit that I like having more people up on stage. It creates a nice flow of movement, which ends with an adorable couple on my belly. Those two look really in love. At least that's what Natasha told me. She says that it's their first 'official' date together, but they liked each other since they were kids. However, the guy was so shy that he never had enough courage to ask the girl out.

Then one day he heard that another gentleman liked her and he realized that he might loose his chance forever if he didn't do anything about it. He did and he and his love ended up as a part of CowParade history permanently gazing into each other's eyes. Isn't it a cute story? Natasha always tells me story about everybody that she paints. It's like having your personal Scheherazade. I'm a very lucky cow. Not only do I get nicely painted, but I also get entertained. And I meet so many new people every day! It's pretty insane. Kids with their grown-ups are constantly stopping by to say 'hello' to me. I feel so special!

Artist painting a cow


We had yet another rewarding day today. Natasha spent a lot of time creating new characters and for the first time I've noticed how strenuous painting could be for the artist. She was constantly moving. Lots of the details she worked on today were around my belly area, so she had to adjust her position every couple of minutes. Natasha was kneeling down but she had to move her body up and down all the time in order to reach different places. Then she spent a lot of time laying on her back because she had to paint the area under my neck. Don't laugh, but it made me think of Madonna. I heard that she reshaped her body by doing yoga. So I came up with an idea for a new exercise routine for celebrities (or non-celebrities, although I'm sure I could make more mooney with my idea if it were for celebrities) called cowga. Basically it would consist of celebrities (or whoever) painting a cow just like me.

There wouldn't be any exercise videos or instructors. It would only consist of a cow that a person would have to paint without having much space to do so. Natasha and I only have a small corner where we work, so she has to come up with various ways to twist her body in order to get places. She says that doing her Palates has become much easier since we started working together because she's more flexible now. Of course the whole concept of becoming more flexible is lost on me, since I'm made out of fiberglass and fiberglass doesn't allow much flexibility... It's very unfortunate but I learned to cope with it. After all everybody is different and one can't expect to be able to do all the things that other beings are capable of.

4/10/06 - 4/16/06

I had somewhat of a vacation this week. Natasha has decided to change the wallpaper in her bedroom and since she had no idea what she was doing it took her almost the whole week to accomplish it. And it all started with me! Because I'm an Art Deco style cow Natasha got her mother Inna really interested in everything related to that style. So one day Inna stopped by her favorite antique store and when she saw an Art Deco bedroom furniture there she decided that her daughter absolutely had to have it. Natasha in her turn decided that her new furniture deserves new Art Deco looking wallpaper to go with it and she boldly went for it. When she returned to me her right eye was twitching and she looked as if she unloaded an eighteen-wheeler filled with bricks all by herself. Turns out that remodeling could be quite a challenge. Especially for somebody who's never done it before.

Although she tells me that now she feels like a wallpapering expert. Apparently she became so good at it that she also did her bathroom and is currently ready to do her living room. However, she did assure me that it wouldn't interfere with our time together. After all the deadline for my completion is coming up soon and she can't afford to miss any more days. Not that I'm trying to make her feel guilty or anything. I know that the world doesn't revolve around me and Natasha has other things to do. Of course it would be nice if we could spend more time together. It gets awfully lonely for me after she leaves... I'm just hoping that after I get purchased at the auction in Boston I'll end up with nice people who would be able to spend a lot of time with me and who would love me as much as Natasha does.


What a change! I knew that Natasha didn't have a solid plan for my outfit, but what she did today blew my mind completely. All of a sudden she decided that the nightclub on my side wasn't going to be a nightclub anymore. Instead she turned it into a restaurant. She explained to me that back in the twenties it was normal for people to dance in restaurants, so in fact what she would be painting could still be considered somewhat of a nightclub, since it would be open at night and people could dance there. I asked her if people were able to drink alcoholic beverages there, because to my knowledge that's another thing that people do in nightclubs. Natasha told me that they couldn't because at that period of time (in the 1920's) it was illegal to drink.

She also told me that even though it looks like some of the people in our restaurant are drinking, what they are consuming is not real alcohol. It's just an assortment of juices poured into bottles that look like liquor bottles. That made me feel good because I don't want any drunk people permanently depicted on my side. I have nothing against people drinking in moderation, but being drunk and stupid is not cool at all! But enough of that. I don't want to be known as a preaching cow. I want to be known as the most beautiful cow ever. A cow goddess, perhaps? Today a lady came in and told Natasha that I look like a goddess. I think I do too, but Natasha told me not to get too high on myself. She says that modesty is a good thing and nobody would like a cow who's too full of herself. I guess I'll have to work on my modesty. Although it's hard, because I'm getting so many compliments!


Things are progressing really fast and Natasha says that we'll be done with one of my sides by tomorrow. I can hardly contain my excitement. A whole side of me will be finished! Although it's also sad, because it means that I'll be leaving soon. I think I'm experiencing a separation anxiety. Sometimes moving on can be a bit scary, but Natasha tells me that life is one big adventure and we can't explore it to its full potential unless we leave some things behind and jump head first into the unknown. So I'm trying to be strong! I also know that she's being strong for my sake as well, because I can tell that our approaching separation is making her sad too. At least I know that she'll be able to come and visit me in Boston once I move there. Natasha says that Boston is not far from West Hartford and I believe her.

She seems to be good with geography. She believes that knowledge is very important and she mentioned to me that sometimes it makes her sad that when she tells people that she's from Ukraine some of them have no idea where it is. Natasha told me that one time a guy that she knew in college thought that Ukraine was in Africa. She guesses that he was probably confusing it with Uganda. Of course, I personally don't know where either one of those countries are, but I'm only a young cow and I still have a lot of time to learn which I'm planning on doing as soon as I have some free time.


Congratulations to us! One of my sides is done! It a huge milestone in my young life and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. As Natasha showed me the finished side in the mirror I felt as if I was about to tear up, but once again my fiberglass nature prevented me from doing it. Oh, how much I would like to feel like a real being. I dream that maybe I can be a cow equivalent of Pinocchio and one day I'll be able to become a real breathing cow. I hope that you people realize how lucky you are to be able to do all the things that you can do. Living is such a wonderful thing and if you don't pay too much attention to the little unimportant problems that somehow you believe to be very important, you can truly enjoy every moment of your existence.

But I guess I have to remember that to each his own and I have to be happy with who I am. And why shouldn't I be happy. I have so many neat details on me. Natasha even painted tiny tiffany lamps on each one of the tiny tables and I love tiffany lamps. As a matter of fact, I feel that now I love everything that was popular in the 1920's, which makes me wonder if other cows get so much into things painted on them. Of course my artist made sure that I liked and understood the theme that I was to wear for the whole eternity when she started painting me. Only now I'm becoming to realize how important it is to like what you are. I'm a cow representing the 1920's and I'm really happy with who I am!


Today started with us having a visitor. Her name was Kimberly and it turns out that she has something called a boutique next to Inna's shop. Inna says that she has awesome clothes there, but unfortunately they don't have anything in my size there or anywhere else for that matter. Bummer! Kimberly had a big belly that she said was just like mine. Although I think that hers was of a very different shape. It was kind of round. I've never seen a belly like that on a human up until today.

I asked Natasha about it and Natasha told me that she was pregnant, which means that she carries a little human inside of her belly. It made me wonder if I have a little cow inside of me, but Natasha told me that I'm too young for that and that I shouldn't worry about such things at my young age. She said that I should concentrate on learning instead, because there is nothing more important than learning. I think I agree with her. I want to be a well-rounded cow. I'm already well-rounded shapewise that is, but I want to be well-rounded intelligence wise as well. That's why I've been reading a lot lately. That's what I do whenever Natasha leaves to go home. She tells me that's what she does when she goes home as well. It made me wonder if that's what most people do, but Natasha told me that unfortunately that's not the case. Makes me wonder why...


Today was a very productive day, but thanks to Natasha I have nothing to show for it. Being an absent-minded artist that she is, Natasha forgot her camera at home and I, being a poor cow without any means to purchase electronic equipment, was left without any pictures of this day. Boy, I wished I had a camera of my own. Then I could take pictures of myself every hour, so that I can look at them when I'm old and remember every moment of my life. I wonder why people with cameras don't constantly take photos of themselves. It would make so much sense. Of course, then they would have to spend a lot of time looking through their pictures. Hmm... Maybe we are not suppose to remember everything.

Other side of Matilda


I'm glad that Natasha brought her camera today. My 'other' side is surely looking good these days and I want all of you to see it. It's very different from the rest of me. It has pretty big people on it. Well, they are not quite the regular size people, but in comparison to all the people I've been sporting up till now they are huge. And beautiful. I think I like it better when I can see all the facial features magnified. It gives me a better idea as to what's going on in the face owner's mind. Even though Natasha tends to tell me stories about each one of the people that she has painted on me, sometimes she does forget to tell me what they are thinking about and I really want to know.

Guessing became much easier now, since the faces are bigger and I can see every little detail. Natasha tells me that there is actually a scientific way to figure out what a person is thinking by his/her facial expression. I asked her to get me a book about it so I can become an expert. Another reason I want to do this is because there are a lot of people stopping by every day to take a look at me and I want to know what they are thinking as well. It's easy when they come inside the shop and tell me out loud what they think of me (it's always good stuff, of course), but I have no idea what they are thinking about me when they are on the other side of the window that separates me from the outside world. I hope it's all good things as well.

Work in progress on the other side of Matilda


Today Natasha changed her mind completely about what my second side should look like and made it into a plaza filled with lots of people. I must say that I like it. I like it a lot! Although the people are still semi-blank (except for the outlines) I'm already able to tell that each one of them is a character. I especially like the little girl who is trying to take a peek at the guy running a puppet theatre.

Natasha told me that the girl's parents were looking for her all over and the scene that Natasha depicted is of the moment that they find her. The gentleman pointing his finger is the little girl's father. It is very heart warming, is it not? There is also a funny looking lady walking with her dog and her husband. The trio is very full of themselves and it shows. Even Cleopatra the dog is full of herself. I can't wait to see them in color.


The figures are coming to life. The colors are just as bright and beautiful as the ones Natasha used on my other side. The dog-walking-lady is now wearing a red dress with an Art Deco pattern around the hem. She also has a nice pearl necklace, which I thought to be a nice detail. I like details and so does Natasha. She adds as many details to every person as she possibly can. Sometimes I doubt that Natasha realizes how little time she has until I have to be finished. Today she spent about 40 minutes painting stripes on a suit of one of the gentlemen. Consequently he's the guy I mentioned yesterday, the one pointing his finger at the little girl picking inside the puppet theatre. To make the man and the little girl look like they are related Natasha gave both of them the same hair color. Neat, huh?

I also have to mention that Natasha spent another half an hour on the 'red-dress' lady's fishnet stockings, which I thought of as slightly inappropriate, since the woman didn't look like she should be wearing that type of stocking at her age. Of course, I voiced my concern and Natasha explained to me that it's quite common for the older women to wear things that are age inappropriate, because they think that it'll make them look younger. I wish I could say that I understood that concept, but I can't. If everyone knows how old a woman is what's wrong with wearing things that are appropriate for her age? Is aging such a bad thing? Natasha says that she doesn't want to get old, but at the same time she tells people that she's already twenty-eight, when in reality she's still twenty seven and won't turn twenty-eight for a few more months. I asked her about that and she said that she's tired of people thinking that she is in her early twenties. She wants to be taken seriously and apparently in her mind people will take her more seriously if they actually know how old she is. People are so strange that it makes me glad that I'm a cow.

Detail from Matilda's side


Natasha hasn't been spending as much time with me as she did in the beginning and I thought that maybe she's trying to wean me off, so to speak. Turns out that she feels that she is ahead of schedule and she's decided to dedicate some of her time to other things that apparently she abandoned once she started painting me. My feeling are a bit hurt. I wish I were the most important thing on her agenda, but I guess I have to be more understanding. After all, our time together is limited and it'll be better for her if she can go back to her normal routine at least part time.

Then our separation won't be quite so hard. Speaking of which... I already know when I'll be departing. It'll be next Thursday. I better stop thinking about it. Who needs to think about sad things when there is such beauty all over you, right? Lets take the little red-haired toddler for example. She is so cute! How can I be sad when I have such an adorable little creature forever embedded onto my side? I was thinking a lot about that whole being sad business and I came up to a conclusion that it will eventually pass and after a while all I'll remember would be the good times that Natasha and I shared. Knowing that at least I'll always have my memories is quite reassuring...


I'm in a very good mood today, because today I found out how both of my sides relate to each other. Up until now it was somewhat of a mystery to me. I'm a bit reluctant to tell you how I figured it out, but it's so cool that I just can't keep it to myself. Turns out that the side that Natasha painted first depicts the inside of one of the buildings that she painted on my other side. If you look carefully you'll see the same people hanging out on the balcony on both of my sides. Is that clever or what? Of course now there is no more mystery! Which is OK. I'm still excited to see what I will look like in the end. I have three more days until I find out. I already like myself as is and I'm hoping that I will look even better when there are no more blank spots left on me. Natasha says that other people think that it is good for a female to retain a little mystery, but I think it wouldn't be possible in my case. I don't care about being mysterious. I like myself and that's all that matters!

Both sides of Matilda


We're almost done and Natasha is adding final touches to me, like beautiful rings on my udders. I asked her if I can have more jewelry, because I really like jewelry and she said that I already have enough. Then I told her that I want to have rings like the ones that her mother wears and Natasha told me that since I don't have fingers to wear the rings, she'll have to place them on my udders. I got three of them now! Not to mention my beautiful shoes that became all nice and shiny after Natasha covered them with some special protective sealant. Actually all of me is nice and shiny now.

Rings on cow's udders

Matilda de Cow


Tomorrow will be my last day with Natasha. I feel sad and happy at the same time. I'm excited about my future and can't wait to meet all the new people, but I'm also sad because I know that Natasha and I are about to part our ways. She is all I have right now. I know that in a few short weeks I'll have a new family, a whole herd of cows just like me and I probably wouldn't be so sad anymore. At least that's what Natasha tells me.

She said that she felt just like I do now when she was moving to the US. She tells me that she was heart-broken, because she had to leave her family and friends behind, but now she has new friends and a new life and even though she misses her old friends time to time, she loves where she is at and that's what will happen to me as well, once I adjust to my new surroundings. Oh, well... I guess we'll see. Of course I will keep all of you posted. I'm signing off for now.

Yours truly,