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 pieces.
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.