Clara Wells Howell was born in Riverhead, Long Island. She lived at 526 East Main Street. She took painting instruction from Caroline Bell in the 1930's, often painting from Riverhead to Orient Point with her mentor. While it is unknown if she ever traveled to New England with Bell and other Peconic Bay Impressionists, it is known she lived in Riverhead her entire life, dying there in 1976. Howell often sold her paintings in the window at McCabes Store, not far from her home.