Former police chief finds second act as painter, caricature artist

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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At this weekend’s Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival, Winchester and Clark County residents saw a familiar face in an unfamiliar role.

Former Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer was not overseeing one of the WPD’s biggest weekends but instead drew caricatures and sold his paintings.

The 26-year veteran of law enforcement’s journey from police work to picking up a paintbrush started as an activity he pursued with his wife, Tammy.

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“I’ve always drawn a little bit,” Palmer said during a recent interview. “But toward the end of my career, my wife and I both started doing some online training as far as digital art and drawing goes. Then we started studying the police composite artist course and finished that with a lady in Minneapolis [Minnesota].”

The couple moved on to painting during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“We were fortunate enough that a lot of the folks that only offered in-person painting workshops were offering Zoom workshops,” Palmer said. “So we got to study with some folks in the U.K. and Italy. We would not have had the means to go to Europe and study with them.”

It was a novel experience for the teachers and their pupils.

“The two artists that we trained with had never used remote learning because their classes were in such demand,” Palmer said. “Imagine being able to get a college degree for a tenth of the price, and you don’t have to travel to go get your degree. It worked really well for us.”

The former police chief estimates that he did “200-300 paintings” during that period.

Palmer and his wife have since turned their artistic pursuits into a business venture.

They opened The Painter’s Workshop, located at 820 Bypass Rd. in Winchester, in 2021.

“We do paint parties and teach people how to paint,” Palmer said about the business.

Palmer said that there are not many parallels between police work and painting, but he does see a significant one.

“In police work, you have to be a student of people, and my favorite thing is to paint people,” he said. “I like looking for the details and believe that is similar to police work. When you are trying to figure out how to paint something you have to use some detective skills. You deconstruct something and break it down into its basic shape. That is like investigating.”

Palmer’s second career is void of the significant stress that comes with working in law enforcement and is something that he and his wife can do side-by-side.

“This is the first hobby that we have been able to do together in 33 years of marriage,” Palmer said.

Palmer can be found doing caricature work at local events when he isn’t painting or instructing.

“We wanted to do something where I can get out and talk and interact with people. I’ve always been a person that likes to meet and greet folks, and this is something that I can do quickly. I can draw a person in about ten minutes… It’s not a Rembrandt work of art, but my goal is that if it looks like you, it is a success,” Palmer said.

To view more of Palmer’s work or to find more information about The Painter’s Workshop, visit the studio’s Facebook or Instagram pages of the same name.