40 Prominent People | Donna Howell-Sickles

Donna Howell-Sickles
Painter • Saint Jo, TX

Donna Howell-Sickles

Distinction: Howell-Sickles has given the contemporary cowgirl a prominent place in western art.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the art world during your career? When I first started painting, a lot of the work being done fell into the contemporary western end of things, and it was separate from traditional western work. That border dissolved in the 1990s, and you could see all of it, from contemporary to traditional, in one place. Now it is becoming more separate again, so that some galleries have traditional work but contemporary western work has its own space.
How do you think you have contributed to the world of contemporary western art? Back in the 1970s when I started, the images of women in art seemed passive and almost fearful. The women didn’t look actively engaged in living their lives like the women I knew growing up in North Texas. The ranch women I knew were able to plow all night if they had to and carry a shotgun to kill the critters that got into the henhouse. So, I have helped add the women I knew and know today to western art.
How has Southwest Art contributed to your career? When I’m at shows, people always say, “I’ve been following your career in Southwest Art.” The magazine has made a contribution to lots and lots of artists.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years? I would like to do some monumental paintings and do more sculpture. The sculptures would be the same subject matter—cowgirl figures surrounded by their animals. And I would like to try encaustic.
Any regrets? Very few. Maybe one or two galleries I should have said yes to.
People would be surprised to learn that … I am a novice beekeeper.
How do you define success? Creating a body of work that you are proud of, continuing on an art path that supports you, and fulfilling moral obligations to your community art-wise and personally.
Describe yourself in one word. Energetic.
How would you like to be remembered? One of things I am proud of is the way I draw. If all people remembered is that I could really draw well, that would be enough.

Featured in “40 Prominent People” in May 2011.