Artwork Statement: River Stones series

While hiking in the North Cascades last September, I emerged from the woods onto the banks of the Skagit River, and a beach covered in beautiful river stones. The Skagit is the largest and most biologically important river draining into Puget Sound. It is the site of a major salmon run, as well as the largest feeding site in the country for the American eagle, which feeds on chum salmon on its riverbanks from December to February. The Skagit is of critical importance to the survival of Puget Sound Orcas, whose main source of food is the chinook salmon who migrate to their breeding grounds via the Skagit.

I immediately envisioned large-scale paintings to dramatically capture the natural beauty of these stones. I’ve emphasized the abstract shapes by exaggerating scale and chroma. I’m particularly fascinated by their ellipses and the energy-filled interstices between them. Each composition is an exploratory tour through its own little world.

Titles of these paintings are from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and from poems by some of my favorite poets:

“Living in the Layers”- from poem “The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz

“With the Night Falling We Are Saying Thank You”- from poem “Thanks” by M.S. Merwin

“The Great Story Weaves Closer and Closer”- from poem “Over In Montana” by William Stafford

“Time and Materials” from poem by Robert Haas

“In the Running Brooks”- from As You Like It, Act II, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

“Our Life Exempt From Public Haunt” – from As You Like It, Act II, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

               And this our life, exempt from public haunts,

               Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

                Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

                        -William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene 1

Artist Statement 

I’m an observational painter; each painting is my response to what I see. When the world is shouting, my focus is on the minutiae of nature, and with what is often overlooked. I try to capture a feeling of wistfulness, and the residue of human influence on nature. My work is meant to evoke meditative calm, a space the viewer can enter in order to quiet their mind long enough to see the metaphorical bigger picture.



Aristides Atelier, Seattle, 2012-201

Gage Academy of Art, Seattle, 2015-2011

Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon (JD 1982)


Upcoming Solo Shows in 2019 

  • Adobe Headquarters, Seattle
  • Steele Gallery, Gage Academy, Seattle


  • American Classical Realism: Atelier Process & Painting, Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, WA
  • Gage Academy Collectors Gala Live Auction, Seattle
  • Frame-Up Studios, Fremont, Seattle, WA


  • 10th Annual Art Invitational, Smith & Vallee Gallery, Edison, WA
  • Gage Academy Collectors Gala Auction, Seattle
  • Frame-Up Studios, Fremont, Seattle, WA


  • Transitions V, Fountainhead Gallery, Seattle
  • Steele Gallery, Gage Academy of Art
  • Gage Academy Collectors Gala Auction, Seattle
  • Aristides Atelier Alumni Exhibition, Gage Academy, Seattle


  • Institute of Classical Architecture & Art Exhibition, King Street Station, Seattle
  • Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists Exhibition, Rainier Club, Seattle
  • Gage Academy Collectors Gala Live Auction, Seattle
  • Best of Gage Annual Show



  • Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters Annual Scholarship Award
  • Nitram Charcoal Featured Artist for November


  • Gamblin Paints Scholarship Award
  • Seattle Co-Arts Annual Scholarship Award


  • Mary Gales Scholarship Award
  • Second Place, Still Life Category, Best of Gage Annual Show, Beth Sellers, juror


Lessons in Classical Painting, by Juliette Artistides. Watson-Guptill (2016)


  • Administrator, Mastercopy Painting Program, Gage Academy and Frye Art Museum
  • 2016 President, Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists


  • Artist Trust Art Business Night School


Martha Kongsgaard and Peter Goldman, Seattle, Washington

Judge Susan Serko and Peter Serko, Vashon Island, Washington

Fawn and Jim Spady, Seattle, Washington

Charlotte Behnke, Seattle, Washington

Dr. Gina Fino, Olympia, Washington

Roy and Jenifer Howson, Phoenix, Arizona

Sukhwant and Brian Shimkaveg, Bethesda, Maryland

Margo Keller, Seattle, Washington

Gail Vore, Portland, Oregon

Charles Moore and Lauren Baker, Seattle, Washington

Kenneth Scearce, Seattle, Washington

Constance Thayer, Richmond Beach, Washington

Marcia Harding, Seattle, Washington

Dr. and Mrs. Winston Chan, Spokane, Washington

James Thayer, Shoreline, Washington

Ann Thoeny, Seattle, Washington

Anonymous downtown Seattle real estate broker

Paton Lewis and Maria Winkler, Seattle, Washington

Dr. and Mrs. Carl Tubbs, Franktown, Colorado

Legal Parallax, LLC, Phoenix, Arizona

Kristina Larson and Richard Gemmell, Seattle, Washington

Panama City Bed and Breakfast, Florida



There was a time in her life when Patricia Halsell did a lot of scuba diving. In fact, she once moved to the tropical island of Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, and stayed for thirteen years so that she could experience its spectacular diving. In those days, she would blow through an entire tank of air happily sitting in front of a single square foot of coral, mesmerized by the drama of life unspooling before her.

She’s a naturalist at heart, and this shows in her artwork. Whether a moss-covered twig, a clutch of quail eggs, or a field of smooth river stones, her canvases explore the form and color of her subjects with expert skill.

Her work is serene and meditative, inviting her viewers into a calm escape from the chaos of life.  Wistfulness, poignancy, memory, loss, the lingering residue of human influence on nature. . . these are her subjects.

A curator has described Halsell’s “Little Altar” series as

“Rather wabi sabi [in] nature… The contrasting textures of the similarly shaped empty nest and porcelain cups. The whole and the broken bits. The hydrangea which keeps its form fresh or dry. And the long horizontal altar which to my medieval theological eye reads as both table and bier.”

Little Altars: Nest Altar

A classically-trained painter and draftsman, Halsell came to her current career as a full-time working artist after a detour of practicing law for twenty years.

Back then, hours of work would yield a finished law brief, ready to be filed with the court. Nowadays, the same investment of time results in a beautiful oil painting, a product that Halsell finds much more enjoyable, both to her and to her clients.

oil painting river stones

Although she had an exciting and successful law career, she always felt she wanted to do something more artistic and creative. Besides, she was getting tired of the negativity and stress in the law. Few clients are joyous over having to retain a lawyer, but art collectors are always happy to see her work.

It amuses her that her formal art training took longer – eleven years- than her legal education.

oil painting river stones

Born in Galveston, Texas, she spent the formative years of her childhood in Madrid, Spain, where regular trips to the Prado Museum established her aesthetic for European masters. At age ten she won First Place in a city-wide student art competition, receiving her award from the Mayor of Madrid. From that point on, she knew that she wanted to become a painter.

Although she wound up going to law school rather than art school, she continually found ways to inject art into her life, studying art law under one of the country’s leading experts, and being a featured speaker at Lawyers for the Arts symposia. She became immersed in fiber arts and knitting, dyeing silk and wool she bought from breeders, then spinning and weaving the yarn on her own spinning wheel and loom. Later she became an accomplished bookbinder and letterpress printer, setting type and printing on antique letterpress printing machines. As much as she loved all this, it didn’t scratch her most basic itch… the tactile urge to take pencil to drawing paper, and paintbrush to canvas.

still life blue river stones

After practicing law for twenty years, she was ready to turn her full attention to learning how to draw and paint. Starting in mid-life, she knew she didn’t have time to waste, and wanted the best skill-based education available, in a formal structured program.

Her formal training began at Seattle’s Gage Academy of Art, where, for seven years, she studied classical figure drawing, sculpture, anatomy, ecorché, portraiture, and still life composition. She was then accepted into the Aristides Atelier, an intensive, four year apprenticeship under internationally-recognized painter Juliette Aristides, studying drawing and painting techniques that have been passed down among master painters for the past six hundred years.

Lavender With Shell still life oil painting

Although the focus of her training was on the human figure and live model, Halsell considers herself primarily a still life painter, which goes hand in hand with her proclivity to collect and arrange. Many of the objects she collected in her travels wind up in her still life compositions.

Once the world traveler, these days Halsell prefers to stay closer to home, painting in her cottage studio located in the artsy Seattle neighborhood of Fremont and tending to her vast garden.

still life oil painting Kabocha squash Japanese glass floats

A full-time working artist, Halsell is in demand for commissions, and is currently working on several series for gallery shows.

She is also the liaison between Frye Art Museum and Gage Academy, scheduling advanced-level painting students from Gage Academy who wish to paint mastercopies at Frye.

Her work is in private collections across the country, as well as the museum stores of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, Washington.

Hydrangea and Celadon