After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied with Richard Merkin, Palmer spent two years in Peru with the Peace Corps. On his return to the United States in 1968, he did graduate work in film studies at Boston University and made educational films for several years before moving to a Pennsylvania farm. He worked as a builder and contractor to support himself until about 1982, and since then has been painting full time. Initially fascinated with the work of Gene Davis, Kenneth Noland, and other members of the Washington Color School, Palmer did hard-edged color field canvases early in his career. Since the early 1980s, however, he has concentrated on still life, setting simple arrangements of fruit and objects into interior spaces and exploring dramatic patterning of light and shadow.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)
Leigh Palmer studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, then enrolled in a film studies course at Boston University. He focused on detailed paintings of interiors and still lifes until the late 1980s, when he moved from Massachusetts to Tivoli, New York, on the Hudson River. In this new environment, he created images of the Hudson Valley landscape using the encaustic technique, which combines pigment with hot wax to create a "distinct language of marks" (Leigh Palmer, artist biography, Carrie Haddad Gallery Web site, 2000).