Bob Palmatier

Nature Illustration for Kids

Since the Fall of 2015, Bob has been hosting art groups for students 7-12 at his home in Southwest Durham, NC, in addition to teaching classes in Nature Illustration for Kids at the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, NC.

Bob taught elementary school for 26 years in Durham Public Schools, spending the last 10 years as the science lab teacher and science coordinator for his school. He has also spent over two decades doing scientific field studies of two species of endangered turtles native to NC; the vernal pool ecology of spotted and marbled salamanders in Piedmont, NC; as well studying NC Native Plants and the Seasonal activities of the larger NC Beetles and Giant Silk Moths. All of this is reflected in his own artwork, which includes authoring and illustrating three children's storybooks that focus on threatened or endangered species of North American Turtles.

Nature Illustration for Kids Nature Illustration for Kids

Fall 2017 Classes

Third Year Serving Exclusively Home-Schooled Students!

I have three art groups this year, all for students 8-12: Wednesday 9:30-11:30, Wednesday 2:00-4:00, and Thursday 9:30-11:30. I have openings in all three groups. Please contact me at

The classes are enrolled month to month. The cost per month is $80 per student for 4 two hour sessions.

Bob supplies the students professional quality art materials at no extra cost (watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, sketch and watercolor paper, professional colored pencils) and also mats and packages their best work at no additional cost.

Summer 2017 Classes

July and August: I will be holding nature illustration classes, but in a special way that acknowledges that most people will be going in and out of town, have other camps, vacations, etc.

During July and August I will continue each week having two classes on Wednesdays (10:00-12:00, 2:30-4:30), and one on Thursdays (9:30-11:30), but you don't have to sign up for the month: Just PICK AND CHOOSE the days you would like to come at $20 a two hour session. That way if your student wants to do some art during the summer you can PICK and CHOOSE the days throughout the summer you are interested in.

If this sounds good to you, take a look at your JULY and AUGUST calendar and pick out some art days! Let me know which days and times you would like to come! Contact me at

NOTE: I have a camp I am teaching for the NC Botanical Garden Aug 7-11 so will have no classes that week.

Art & Science Camps for Kids

Daily Schedule:

Each day begins with outdoor nature exploration and field sketching on woodland paths and extensive pond areas with birds and basking turtles. What we are looking for will harmonize with that week's nature focus (butterflies, birds, turtles). Indoor studio time will include live animals in terrariums, fresh-cut wildflowers, and scientific collections for learning, drawing and painting. Each student will end the week with at least one matted painting.

Maximum enrollment for each camp: 6 students
Enroll now!

When I receive your payment, this confirms your enrollment. I will then send you an email confirming the enrollment and to answer any further questions you may have. If you have any questions before enrollment, please contact me at

What Happened: Turtle Camp June 2017

Turtle Camp for Kids Turtle Camp for Kids

For Turtle Camp this year, we had beautiful weather for 5 days, sunny but not too humid! We hiked along the swamps and pond at Sandy Creek Park and used binoculars to spy on turtles basking in the early morning sun. We found a turtle nest that had been opened up and robbed by a raccoon and identified it as a snapping turtle nest by counting the empty egg shells!

Turtle Camp for Kids Turtle Camp for Kids

Inside in the studio, we had live turtles: yellow bellied sliders, painted turtles, and a juvenile snapping turtle to touch and hold and sketch from. We measured the turtles and weighed them on a postal scale! We drew turtles and prepared the drawings for painting with gouache and pen and ink.

Turtle Camp for Kids Turtle Camp for Kids

But maybe the best fun was the two times we took small water color sets outside and painted "en plain air". We painted the lizards tail plants in the swamp, and even climbed down into the creek, which was very low and dry with small streams of water, and painted things from that point of view!

Turtle Camp for Kids

One of the moms brought blueberry cobbler "turtle cake" with home made whipped cream for a treat on the last day! All the 4 campers took home matted paintings to remember this year's Turtle Camp! There was art, and science, and adventure! See you next year!

What Happened: Bird Camp June 2017

Preparation for the Bird Camp in June started way earlier, probably back in March 2017 or so, when the trees in the woods were still bare of leaves, and the mosquitoes had not even awakened from winter time! I started looking for nests and nesting hollows in the woods behind our studio.

Owl Hollow Baby Barred Owl
I was fortunate to find a red-shouldered hawk's nest in the top of a pine tree; and way up in a bare tree trunk, a woodpecker's round nest entrance; and in a hollow of a lightening struck tree, a barred owl's nest, with a mother owl inside! In May I saw one baby Barred Owl!!!

Bird Camp for Kids Bird Camp for Kids

In June, five students arrived: the weather was sunny and mild, and we started by hiking the park and the woods (you need mosquito netting and repellent to walk in the woods in June!) We didn't see too many birds at first: we had to try to match their songs to the Audubon Bird app. By this we found the most common bird for us were Cardinals. By repeating their calls, they began to show themselves to us on branches among the leaves! We saw wrens the same way. And of course, crows!!!

Bird Camp for Kids Bird Camp for Kids
With all the birds we were seeing, hearing, and hoping to see, it was not difficult to use bird photos in the studio to draw all our common feeder birds and the birds we were seeing, too. We used geometric shapes to block out our bird drawings, then added details and refined our lines before transferring to watercolor paper. Then gouache!

Bird Camp for Kids Bird Camp for Kids
Before too long, everyone had one matted painting to take home. But we had birds on the brain, and kept going!! More birds in gouache and pen and ink. One day as we walked the park to see more birds and new species, we saw a great blue heron overhead, and then a red shouldered hawk who crossed the path right ahead of us! He or she must have been going after a mouse or something not to notice us until the last minute!

Bird Camp for Kids
On one of the last days, we crossed the road to paint "en plain air" on the edge of the Durham Academy playing field. On the swampy end of the field was a great spread of beautiful purple-flowered Pickerel Weed. We were all set up with camp stools and watercolor sets, and had a nice time in the sun and in the shade of trees there painting flowers, not birds! We all had a great time at Bird Camp, and learned about the world of birds and what they do in new and interesting ways!

© Bob Palmatier. Please do not use or reproduce without written permission.