1949 (Gainesville, Texas)
Often Known For
action cowgirl figure paintings, sculpture
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Donna Howell-Sickles' subject of empowered cowgirl figures dates back to 1972 when she stumbled
across a 1950s hand-tinted postcard. It featured a waving cowgirl and
under it was the inscription: "Greetings for a Real Cowgirl of the
Southwest." The notion of a woman sitting atop her horse in period
costume appealed to the artist. "But back then I didn't think they were
real cowgirls," say Howell-Sickles. "At least none who might look like
the one on my postcard. The real/unreal aspect is what I liked. When
I started I never gave the women faces. They had mouth, bright red
mouths that were a touch off to the side. It was if you had caught a
glimpse of something frozen in time. My intent was to create a
generalized western persona, rather than a specific personality."|
character type, Howell-Sickles learned, was real back in the 1910s and
1920s and is readily described: A woman who'd traveled with the
Wild West Show and ridden bulls in front of crowds filling the likes of
Madison Square Garden. A woman unafraid of a challenge, and
Her works are
mixed-media paintings on paper and oils on canvas. She
melds shapes of blue, white and gray with accents of red, black and
Her works currently hang in several major
Western collections: the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson,
Wyoming; the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Museum, Cody, Wyoming; the
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona; and, The National Cowgirl Hall
of Fame, Henderson, Texas. She has been featured in Southwest Art,
American Cowboy Magazine, and many other publications.
Kent Whipple, Art Professional
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|From her studio in Frisco Texas, Donna Howell-Sickles creates mix-media
images of cowgirls that have brought her national attention and success.|
was raised on a ranch in north Texas and attended a two-room school.
While earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at Texas Tech in
Lubbock, she received a postcard that set the course of her art career.
The card was hand- tinted, printed in the 1930s, and featured a cowgirl
with the words "Greetings from a real cowgirl from the Ole Southwest."
It appealed to her as a wonderful, fake, and glamourous image, and
creating these subjects she could draw from her own cowgirl experiences
competing in rodeos.
Her early cowgirls were faceless and
universal, but her later work is more expressive of joy and warmth,
seeming to offer friendship to the viewer.
After earning her
degree, she took a variety of jobs including with the Washington State
Arts Commission's Visiting Artists in the Schools. She married and
settled in Frisco. She teaches workshops at the Scottsdale Artists
School, and her work is in the Tucson Museum of Fine Art; the Buffalo
Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming; and the National Museum of
Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.
|Biography from McLarry Fine Art:|
|Donna Howell-Sickles was born in 1949 in Gainesville, Texas and raised
on a 900 acre farm. In 1972, while earning her BFA at Texas Tech
in Lubbock, she acquired an old postcard c. 1935 depicting a cowgirl
seated on a horse which read, “Greetings from a Real Cowgirl from the
Ole Southwest.” |
Attracted by the charm and confidence of the woman in the image, she
began incorporating the cowgirl figure into her work, as well as
collecting and researching these old-time cowgirl images. Before
long, this icon was the central theme in the contemporary settings of
Donna’s works are largely mixed-media. She works on paper and
canvas in a mix of charcoal, pastel and acrylic most often leaving her
under-drawing visible. In Donna’s pieces, the cowgirl achieves
the status of a heroine, and her images have brought her national
attention and success.
Her work is rich with symbolism and allusions to classical mythology,
but the viewer does not need to be familiar with the references in
order to appreciate the female affirmations of each piece.
Her paintings can be found in museum collections throughout the west
including the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Texas; The
National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas; The Buffalo Bill
Historical Center, Cody Wyoming and several others. Her work has been
featured in numerous publications and a book, Cowgirl Rising, has been made of her work.
|Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III:|
|In the Western art genre, Donna Howell-Sickles has taken the image and
idea of the cowgirl beyond charcoal lines and into reality.
Howell-Sickles has been exploring the layers beneath the cowgirl’s
engaging exterior for more than 30 years. |
A vintage postcard
from the 1930’s featuring a cowgirl with ruby red lips sitting atop her
horse instilled in Howell-Sickles a lasting fascination with the
cowgirl spirit. The cowgirl in the postcard was at once both familiar
and unreal. This dichotomy in the imagery has fueled Howell-Sickles’
artwork, and inspired her to create images of women that are both real
and myth. Howell-Sickles’ artwork captures the quintessence and
timelessness of the cowgirl spirit.
"My fascination with the
cowgirl image began in my last year of college. I received an old
postcard from a friend in a typical art student trade. He brought over
a large box of stuff including some of his own pottery. Near the bottom
of the box were several old postcards, one of a cowgirl c. 1935 seated
on a horse captioned "Greetings from a Real Cowgirl from the Ole
Southwest". The image spoke to me and I had no idea why. Although I had
grown up on a farming ranching operation in Texas we never really
thought of ourselves as Western. I surrendered to the attraction and as
I used the Cowgirl in my art and I slowly filled in the blanks about my
fascination with the imagery."
~Donna Howell Sickles
|Biography from Trailside Galleries - WY:|
|Born in Gainsville, Texas and raised on a 900-acre farm, Donna Howell-
Sickles creates cowgirl paintings that are big, bold, colorful
expressions filled with mystery, romance and allure. Just as the
cowgirls of the early Wild West show were idolized and glamorized,
Sickle’s contemporary cowgirl paintings are intended to evoke a
mythical quality of their own. |
The inspiration for this theme originally came by way of a somewhat
surreal postcard that featured a 1920’s cowgirl. Attracted by the
bright costumes and seemingly eccentric lifestyles, she set off to
research the authentic cowgirls or the 1910’s and 20’s. Today, she has
several albums filled with these postcards and pictures which continue
to provide a steady supply of inspiration.
While her paintings feature more contemporary themes, she has captured
the same spirit of independence and adventure which she first saw in
those early postcards. Donna Howell-Sickles is recognized for her
innate talent for capturing a character’s individuality on canvas and
expressing personality in two-dimensional form.
Her paintings are found in museum collections including the Booth
Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Texas; the Buffalo Bill Historical
Center in Cody, Wyoming; the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls,
Montana; the Tucson Museum of Fine Art in Tucson, Arizona and the
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
|Biography from Altamira Fine Art:|
|Donna Howell-Sickles, b. 1949|
Having grown up on a ranch in North Texas close to the Red River, Donna Howell-Sickles developed her affinity for nature and animals at an early age. Howell-Sickles' artwork is about women and their role in the American West. She retells women's stories and myths using the cowgirl as a medium.
Howell-Sickles graduated from Texas Tech University with a BFA in Painting and Drawing in 1972, and has been following her passion for art ever since. Her distinctive artwork filled with bright colors and spirited cowgirls can be found in museum collections and gallery exhibitions across the country.
Along with winning numerous awards, Howell-Sickles has been published in countless print articles and in November 2007, Donna Howell-Sickles was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
Six museums hold her work in their collections, a tribute to her standing in the art world. Donna and her husband, John live in Saint Jo, Texas.
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