Local artist and author promotes community with ‘Willow And Friends’ series

By Luke Britt
Editor
Pam Hallman’s art runs the gamut of genres. From the abstract to the whimsical, the Farmerville painter, illustrator and author is limited only by her own imagination, which is to say, she has no limits at all.
Fear, she said, ends many young artists’ careers before they even start – fear of failure or of not being “good enough.”
“I never had that fear, or if I did, it didn’t stop me,” Hallman said this week while discussing the recent publication of her fourth children’s book.
When she conceived earlier this year the idea of authoring and illustrating a series of children’s books the fact that it was a major departure from her comfort zone of acrylic on canvas gave her no pause at all. Six months and four books later, Hallman said creating the “Willow And Friends” series has been one of the most rewarding projects she’s ever undertaken.
The books are set in Union Parish, and their central character, Willow, was inspired, Hallman said, by her own childhood memories of growing up in Farmerville. Many of the characters Willow meets, including a bevy of talking animals, are based on very real people who live and work in the parish today.
“The way the community has responded is just amazing,” Hallman said. “A child came to me and said, ‘You wrote about my Daddy in your book’. She was so happy and impressed that her daddy was in one of my books. I just love that. Another asked me if I would put her daddy in one of my books, and I did. Being able to do that for her gave me great joy.”
Born in New Orleans, Hallman’s family moved to Farmerville in the late 1960s when her father, Lamar Adkins, was hired to manage Claiborne Electric. Shortly after graduating from high school, Hallman married a U.S. Air Force servicemember and with him traveled the United States and Europe.
“The thing about military life is that you meet lots of people, but you’re only with them for a while. Then you move on. What stayed with me is more the places and the cultures,” Hallman said.
It was during this period that her art evolved from something she enjoyed into an intrinsic part of who she is. The deserts of California, the mist-covered Smoky Mountains, the aged cities of Europe, and the people who inhabited these places all demanded her artistic attention.

“I painted everything. Murals, landscapes, portraits, I painted anything that touched me,” she said.
A Spiritual Awakening
A key moment, perhaps the key moment, in her career came when Hallman realized from whence her artistic passion sprang.
“I had never really thought about where my passion for art came from, but eventually I matured enough to realize it was a gift from God. I was meant to use it in a way that is pleasing to him.”
After that realization, Hallman’s work took a decidedly spiritual turn, and she has since produced hundreds of Christian-themed paintings, including an entire series of angel paintings and another depicting significant events in the life of Jesus Christ, which is currently on exhibit at the Union Parish Chamber of Commerce.
Another key event in Hallman’s career occurred in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At the time, Hallman and her husband were living in Gulf Port, MS. According to Hallman, once she got over the initial shock of the attacks, “I went straight to my studio and started sketching.
“I knew immediately that I was going to create something to memorialize that moment, so I watched everything, started taking pictures of things that came on TV and sketching.”
The result was Hallman’s best known painting, “Freedom Interrupted”, which depicts the World Trade Center towers just as they began to collapse surrounded by people and events that became iconic in the aftermath of the attack.
A print of the painting hangs in the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas and another hangs in the station that is home to New York Fire Department Engine Company No. 10, located near the Ground Zero Memorial in New York City.
Hallman said she sold thousands of prints and post cards of the painting and donated the proceeds to Tuesday’s Children, an organization formed to provide support to the children of those who died on Sept. 11.

Coming Home
Hallman, at the time still Pam Gale, returned to Union Parish in 2018 following the death of her husband. Not long after, Ramsey Hallman returned to the parish to care for his ailing mother, which was more than a little serendipitous because Pam and Ramsey were school sweethearts.
“We dated in high school, but after graduation he went his way and I went mine, and we hadn’t seen each other for nearly 50 years,” she said. The couple began dating, again, and were married in 2021. In addition to being her husband,
Ramsey appears in her books as one of pair of talking crawfish brothers, the other crawfish being inspired by Hallman’s actual brother, Chris Adkins.
Hallman said she was pleased to discover a vibrant artistic community here. Specifically, she credited the Union Parish Arts Council and the Union Museum of History and Art with supporting and encouraging the parish’s artists.

“There are so many talented artists here,” Hallman said, “and it’s important to support them.”
Inspired by her belief that her art should reflect
her faith, Hallman said she hoped the “Willow And Friends” series would do more than make a few children happy.
“I want children to know their community and the people in it, but I also I want to promote Union Parish, to promote the good people here.
It’s really an exciting time because we have some much going on. We’re renovating and expanding the museum. We’re building a giant boat ramp. We’re going to have a community college here. It’s all so exciting.”
To that end, Hallman has struck a deal with the state’s Office of Tourism and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who makes a cameo appearance in one her books, to place the ‘Willow And Friends’ series in Louisiana state park facilities.
“Even five years ago I don’t think you would have seen so many businesses decorated for the holidays, but if you go downtown today, Farmerville looks like a Hallmark movie. There is more pride in our community, and that’s very exciting.”
Hallman will be signing copies of the latest edition in her “Willow and Friends” series during the Christmas on the Square celebration in Farmerville Saturday.

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