Bob Palmatier

Nature Illustration for Kids

Bob has been teaching Nature Illustration for Kids classes at the NC Botanical Garden at UNC-Chapel Hill since the Spring of 2013. This summer (2018), he will be teaching a one week summer course for 8-12 year olds titled "Art of Nature". The dates are Aug 6-10, 9-12:00. Sign up is at the UNC Botanical Garden website:

Nature Illustration for Kids Nature Illustration for Kids

Art Groups

During 2015-2017, Bob had art groups for 8-14 year olds that met weekly and monthly at his home in Durham, NC. Take a look at some of the terrific nature illustration produced by these students by clicking on the image of the tropical fish below! There are no groups meeting at Bob's home at this particular time.

Summer Camps

Bob has done summer art and science camps at the NC Botanical Garden and for the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh from 2013 through the present. During the summer of 2017, he held two science focused Nature Illustration Summer Camps at his home and in the connected woods and wetlands there. Take a look at some of stories and photos from these two camps below! He is not planning any home-based camps this summer (2018), but will be doing Nature Illustration camps for the NC Botanical Garden (August 6-10, 2018) and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh (July 16-20, 2018).

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.