Born in New York in 1913, Appel took her first painting classes while attending Sarah Lawrence College from 1932-34. In the summers of 1934 and 1935 she studied with Judson Smith at the Woodstock School of Painting, where she met Austin Mecklem, an established landscape painter. They married in 1936 and for ten years lived in Mecklem’s cabin at The Maverick Colony.
Meck had been assigned to the WPA-sponsored Alaska Art Project, so in 1937 the couple traveled to Alaska, where Appel continued her own landscape painting, working in ink and in gouache. In 1939 the Art Institute of Chicago included her in its 18th International Water Color Exhibition.
A daughter, Margaret Merrill (Pixie) Mecklem, was born in 1942; two years later a second daughter, Sarah Greer Mecklem, arrived. The young growing family moved from the Maverick cabin to a larger house in Woodstock. As the children grew, Appel continued her painting and explored other artistic endeavors. Her design was chosen for the War Memorial on Woodstock’s village green, which was dedicated on July 4, 1949.
Meck’s death in 1951 necessitated her move to New York to find work to support the family. She did freelance design work and assisted mural painters Refregier, LaLiberte and Shimin. Her work for Bil and Cora Baird’s marionette company led to a later job with Jim Henson Associates. She married actor and puppeteer Carl Harms in 1960.