The natural world dwells in Kathy Hallam, tuning her instincts and sharpening her eye. Where most people see a barn swallow in a nest of twigs, Hallam, an artisan in Gray Gables, sees a beautiful harbinger of potential. Hallam’s rendering of the little brown bird, painted in pastel and watercolor and set against onion cloth paper, is a captivating balance of realism and artful impression, from the fine twigs poking out of the textured nest to a dab of deep blue over the bird’s eye for depth. Anyone who sees it will feel her attachment to nature, especially to its animals.
“I love animals,” Hallam says. “They’re so endearing, painting them is a natural.” The barn swallow, a limited-edition print, may hang on a client’s wall or serve as the centerpiece of a decorative wall pattern. Through her business, Whimsical Notions, Hallam creates fine finishes, including wood graining, for walls, floors, furniture, and even transoms. She creates her own tints, which she calls “recipes,” and treasures her brushes, which range from the finest-tipped tool imaginable to a fat “badger brush,” Hallam’s favorite. “I almost consider it a miracle brush,” she says. “I love my brushes!”
And she loves her art. As Hallam says, “It’s nature’s music.” It is a beautiful late-summer day, and Hallam’s waterside lawn overlooking Bell Cove rollicks with birds, an occasional chipmunk, and her beloved Doberman, Tess. Hallam, who grew up in North Falmouth, her husband Arthur, and their son Kyle moved to Gray Gables three years ago after living in Louisiana, where her husband operates Lake Charles Pilots. (The Hallams’ older son, Nicholas, lives in Louisiana.) Arthur still commutes to Lake Charles; when he comes home, Hallam says, “We garden and eat lobster.”