Pat Halley’s Arctic Bellas

Contributed by Charice Chambers

Sister Ann Marie knew that Patty Halley was special, so she encouraged the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania high school senior to apply for a college art scholarship. The sister was right; Halley won the scholarship and was able to begin her college art education. Times were tough and money was scarce. Halley was forced to quit school, and joined the army for four years. 

Following her separation, she used the GI Bill to complete a BS in nursing. For many years, she worked in hospitals, doctor’s offices and as a school nurse, her love of art all but forgotten. Then she had a close call with a serious illness. After she recovered, time became very precious to her. Her desire to immerse herself in art became her paramount focus. With help and support from her husband, she began participating in workshops with well-known wildlife artist, Judi Rideout. Thanks to guidance and encouragement from Rideout, Halley began to find her way as an artist.

After several oil painting workshops, Rideout suggested that Halley focus on animal portraits, as she seemed particularly gifted in that area. For the past seven years Halley has done just that. She has produced over 200 portraits, mostly dogs and cats; though, she has done some others including horses. As can be seen, her portraits capture not only the animal’s visage, but its personality as well. Many of her portraits have also been made into blank greeting cards.

Halley is always ready for new and challenging portrait opportunities, and can be contacted at for inquiries.

Five years ago, Halley and a friend who was also an artist decided to research ideas for something both artistic and unique that could be created for both the tourist and local market. After much time and thought, they were inspired to create a series of Alaskan ornaments in the form of small Alaskan Native dolls. These Alaskan dolls were adorned with real furs of all types.  Originally, both male and female, they were depicted involved in traditional activities such as fishing, hunting, kayaking, berry picking, and sewing. Today, they can be found knitting, gardening, painting, dancing and a variety of other activities. Halley will even create unique dolls for special occasions. Though originally intended to hang on a Christmas tree, many people display their dolls year round using stands now available for them.

Recently, Halley took a new foray into yet another art form, and created a series of felted angels and fairies. Whimsical and unique, these heavenly creations have proved quite popular.

Though firmly entrenched in Alaska after 20+ years in the state, Halley has become a bit of a snowbird, spending some time each year in Arkansas. Perhaps this is why Halley calls her native dolls, Arctic Belles. Reminiscent of the term “southern belles”, it just sort of makes sense.

Daughter Katie Halley also exhibits artistic abilities, though in a slightly different medium: prose. At the age of 13, Katie wrote a children’s book, a fantasy about a magical horse, entitled “Running Red”. A fun read for both children and adults, it has been published in soft back and is now available along with Patty Halley’s Arctic Belles and blank greeting cards at the Mat-Su Senior Center Gift Shop.

Located at 1132 South Chugach Street in Palmer across from Palmer Junior Middle School, the gift shop is open to both seniors and the public, Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm.