A well-known Southwest painter, print-maker and gallery owner, he did finely rendered, etching like portraits of time-worn Native Americans. His goal was to depict the dignity of his subjects. He was born in Sioux City Iowa and raised in a small home overlooking the Missouri River. He studied art and writing at the Unviersity of Northern Iowa and taught high school in Iowa. In the late 1960s, he moved to Colorado and opened Breckenridge Galleries. After living briefly in Taos and Colorado, he opened the Howell Gallery in Santa Fe. He was an accomplished photographer, and writer of an art computer program.
Frank Howell was described as "having the remarkable ability to make a person feel that, for a moment in time, they were the most important person in his life. Understand that painting is a wonderful kind of mirror that reflects the inner you, not your external appearance. You will have a sense of a kind of timelessness, a humanness the poetics in all things."
Frank Howell's work is described as a fusion of the physical and spiritual worlds, the continuum of life. Whether he is painting an Indian face or a landscape, there is a sense of evolving; an evolution of past, present, and the dawning of the future.
"My work is very representational in some respects, and it's kind of explosive and expansive in other respects. I combine these directions, and, really, that's what has been accepted as the uniqueness in my work-it's at the same time contemporary and traditional."
Subtle earthy colors and sensitive draftsmanship bring to life this philosophical reality.
Howell views lithography as a painter's print medium because of its ability to reproduce the kinds of subtle gradation of values and tonality which are most similar to the variations drawing and paint can provide.
"My first concepts of a print were in terms of painterly processes. Progressively, as I have gained experience and knowledge, my ideas and approaches to conceptualizing those ideas are more in keeping with the qualities particular to lithography. The delicate washes, crayon textures and soft pencil lines so unique to the medium have become useful and integral ingredients in the formation of my images. I believe that through the communion between the tools, materials, and qualities of lithography and my sensibilities, beauty may be born. It is the communion and my awareness of its potential that perpetuates my search."
Howell's list of credits is extensive. A drawing series, "Past Winds," created in 1975, captured the attention of viewers in galleries, universities and museums throughout the nation. He has had over 30 one man shows including a display of lithographs at the Museum of Modern Art in Guadalajara, Mexico. Howell has been the subject of profiles on television, radio and in newspapers and magazines.