"They have energy, wit, wisdom and self-awareness. They have charm, style, independence and a love of animals that goes beyond the mythic. They are the cowgirls of Donna Howell-Sickles. It all started with a postcard. Howell-Sickles came upon a 40 s-era, hand- tinted postcard of a woman dressed in wild west gear astride a big sorrel horse above the inscription, ""Greetings from a real cowgirl from the ol Southwest."" ""This was a wonderful image in that the colors were printed over the black and white processing,"" Howell-Sickles says. ""And her bright red lips were printed just slightly off-center. That quality of the real and unreal fascinated me."" That postcard started the Texas Tech University graduate on a search for her own American cowgirls, ones who were strong and joyous. The search led to rodeos and Wild West shows, dating as far back as the 20 s and reaching up until today. ""I kind of got acquainted by name with all of these old rodeo women,"" she says. ""Wonderfully, wildly atypical for their time."" And from their inspiration and her own love of life and art, Howell- Sickles created a new cowgirl for the 90 s and beyond. Now her images are eagerly sought by collectors, galleries and museums and adorn the walls of many a person who admires bold colors, decorative design and symbolic strength. Howell-Sickles has had more than a dozen one-woman shows and was named the featured artist at the American Woman Artist show at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. Her book Cowgirl Rising was published in 1997."