Donna Howell-Sickles was born in 1949 in Gainesville, Texas, where she was raised on a 900-acre farm. In 1972, she earned her BFA from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. During her junior year at Texas Tech University she acquired an old postcard, circa 1935, depicting a cowgirl seated atop a horse. The vintage postcard read, “Greetings from a real Cowgirl from the Ole Southwest.” Attracted instantly by the charm and confidence of the woman in the image, Howell-Sickles began incorporating the cowgirl figure into her artwork, as well as collecting and researching these old-time cowgirl images. Before long, this Cowgirl icon, and all that she stood for, became the central theme in the Contemporary-Western settings of Howell-Sickles’ mixed-media artwork.
Donna Howell-Sickles works on paper and canvas in a mix of charcoal, pastel and acrylic most often leaving her under-drawing visible. In the artwork, the Cowgirl achieves the status of a heroine, and these images have brought Donna Howell-Sickles national attention, recognition, accolades and success. Her work is rich with symbolism and allusions to classical mythology.
Howell-Sickles’ artwork captures the quintessence and timelessness of the cowgirl spirit. The artist shares a little of her well-earned wisdom, “The cowgirl has become my icon for women in general, and I’m using her to portray someone of warmth and humor with whom to laugh.” Howell-Sickles herself identifies with the self-reliant and hard-working spirit of the cowgirl. With an ageless grace, and timeless stories, these Cowgirl heroines will live on forever in vibrant colors through Donna Howell-Sickles’ artwork.
In 2007 she was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2011 she was voted one of the 40 Prominent People in the Western Art World by Southwest Art Magazine. Howell-Sickles’ work is a part of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Booth Western Art Museum, the Tucson Museum of Fine Art, Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, the C.M. Russell Museum, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Howell-Sickles won the 2014 Best of Show Award at the CowgirlUp! Annual Invitational Exhibition at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.