(970) 927-9668


Aug 09, 2021
Donna Howell-Sickles | Roping the Stars
Donna Howell-Sickles painting of cowgirl
Donna Howell-Sickles, “The Stars At Night,” Mixed Media, 22 x 30 in

Donna Howell-Sickles reimagines the cowgirl as a super-woman for every era

By: Southwest Art | July 15, 2016 | Gussie Fauntleroy

This story was featured in the August 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

In Donna Howell-Sickles’ eyes, the distance between the goddess of ancient mythology and a smiling, ruby-lipped western cowgirl astride a prancing horse is not nearly as far as one might think. Both are strong, confident, self-actualized women. Both are fabled figures that arose from agrarian cultures with an essential connection between humans, animals, and the land.

Donna Howell-Sickles, “White Horns,” Acrylic, 48 x 36 in

For Howell-Sickles, the cowgirl has served as a metaphor for stories about spirited, wise, competent women, and the human experience in general, for more than 35 years. Although the women in her art have evolved over the years, becoming more individualized and representing more nuanced tales, what has remained constant is their infectious feeling of enthusiasm and joy. It’s a quality reinforced by fields of bold color, dynamic visual movement, and traces of underlying drawing that have always characterized her work.

In a sense, the charismatic cowgirl is the precursor to powerful, strong-minded female superheroes that girls today can dress up and pretend to be, Howell-Sickles points out. Boys have always had costumed heroes offering role models for valor and strength, but a fringed skirt and boots were among the few ways young girls could try on an empowering alter ego when the artist was a child.

Read the full article at Southwest Art >

“I think I was lucky to be in a farming community. Everyone there worked—worked the land, worked the garden, cooked, went to church. There was no room for helplessness; it was not even an option,” she remembers. Rather than a single role model on whom her concept of female competence was based, she tucked away ideas in “bits and pieces from lots of women. I always saw women as essential, and in my world, they were.”

Donna Howell-Sickles, “Stampede,” Acrylic, 60 x 48 in

 “I celebrate the now and the joy we can feel in being who we are, and where we are, at this exact moment,” she says. “What makes us joyous is different for each person, but to me that’s what makes life worth it.”

Donna howell-sickles

Applaud this!
Posted in
  • Artists
  • Donna Howell-Sickles
  • Press
  • equine art
  • Horse Art
  • ranch life
  • Southwest Art magazine
  • western women
  • women artists