Born in South Yorkshire, 1956, Palmer studied illustration and graphic design at Reigate Art School, Surrey, under the illustrator and watercolour artist Earnest Boye Uden. Uden encouraged Palmer to take up both watercolour and the depiction of landscape, and initially Palmer chose the landscapes of Kent as his subject. He soon returned to Yorkshire, however, where Palmer continues to live, and it is Yorkshire, both its people and its landscape, which is the main focus of Palmer’s work.
Palmer is now recognized as one of Britain’s finest watercolour and landscape artists. His work has been shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; the Crane Kalman Gallery, London; at Glyndbourne Festival Opera Exhibition, and the National Trust Centenary Exhibition, and a retrospective was held at the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate. In 2007 Palmer won the Winsor and Newton Prize for best watercolour at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
Palmer’s landscapes are at once exact in representation – he uses pen and ink to minutely depict details such as the leaves or twigs on an oak tree; they are also archetypal in their portrayal of a certain area of England – its roads, and lanes and hedgerows and the life of its people. They have a strong narrative tendency: people go about their business with intent, whether they are walking, cycling, or working the land, but sometimes the intent is unclear, and people are portrayed in unexpected or whimsical scenarios.
Palmer is collected worldwide, in Europe, the US and Japan, but mostly in the UK, where he is recognized as one of Britain’s foremost watercolour and landscape artists.