Bob Palmerton specializes in painting landscapes with soft pastels.  Among Bob’s many subjects, his favorites include farm and woodland scenes throughout Southeast Michigan, the beach at Breezy Point in his native New York, and the mountains, rocks and streams found on hiking excursions in the National Parks.


Soft pastels are made of pure pigment bound into sticks and are applied by hand.  Pastels can be traced back to the 16th century, invented by the German painter Johann Thiele.  Some famous pastel artists include Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Whistler, William Merritt Chase, and Edgar Degas.

Paintings are typically “built up” on the painting surface with various layers of pastel. Bob’s paintings are started with an under-painting of watercolor or hard pastel diluted with alcohol or turpentine.  Then, successive layers of hard and semi-hard pastels are added.  Additional depth and detail are achieved with successive layers of soft pastels.  Sometimes, a fixative is applied to “fix” or “freeze” the latest layer of pastel in order for the surface to take on additional layers.  


Painting surfaces include textured and sanded paper, and heavier sanded card stock. Sanded papers and card are typically comprised of a gesso primer mixed with marble dust or other synthetic grit.  Bob uses mostly Uart® sanded paper, and favors Unison soft pastels for most of his work. 


Bob Palmerton with Gallup Park, Ann Arbor pastel painting

Bob finds that pastels are particularly satisfying due to the breadth of colors, values and levels of intensity that are available, as well as the convenience and portability of the medium.  Paintings are plein air or started on site or from digital photographs, and are completed in Bob’s Saline, Michigan studio.  Digital technology allows Bob to zoom into landscape details as well as to alter color saturation and perform value (gray scale) studies to capture the most out of his landscape scenes.

Bob Palmerton began painting in oils in his early teens, and discovered pastel paintings shortly thereafter.  Bob obtains much of his inspiration for his paintings from his half-day biking excursions through Southeast Michigan, and on family hikes with his wife Mary and their three children, Sara, Matthew and Nicole. 


Through his painting, Bob hopes that the beauty and drama of the landscape can inspire each of us to embrace the outdoors and to enjoy the continuous learning and small surprises that nature presents. Bob’s paintings strive to bring out the drama and chaos of the landscape through the interplay of complementary colors, atmospheric effects, shadow and light.  Bob is a fan of the Hudson River School and painters such as Albert Bierstadt and Frederick Church, and admires the works of Impressionists such as Monet and Pissarro.  Bob is a member of the Great Lakes Pastel Society and is an Associate Member of the Pastel Society of America.

Click here for Bob's Artist Resume.