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Beaver Rotation

Three beaver from the book Porcupine in a Pine Tree

On the Third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Three Beaver Tails!

Beaver Tails?  I’m sure it was those tasty treats that are made in Ottawa and not anything from those busy dam or tree building creatures.

It actually makes me want to have one right now!

But since it’s beaver I thought it would be good to share how  I draw them.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the video  How to draw Beaver  but I hope you will read on as I share a few helpful tips.

 

Step 1: use reference

Look at beaver in pictures or on video.  Your character can end up quite different but it helps to study the real animal.

I’ve even drawn their skeletons.  The look like monsters. In fact at one time they were a lot bigger and probably acted like monsters.

Beaver Skeleton

Beaver skeletons look like monsters.

Step 2: Doodle 

This is the fun part.

 

Beaver sketch

It’s good to just doodle loosely to get a feeling of your characters without worrying about details or even whether or not they will be the final ones.

 

beaver studies in colour

It’s fun to throw colour on your doodles to explore what is possible.

Step 3: Construction advice

Construction advice on how to draw a beaver

Always start from the simple and build to the final. It’s like constructing anything.

 

It’s good to turn your characters to see them from all sides. Remember to Keep It Simple, Silly and not worry how great it is.  It’s better to do more and explore than a few and be critical of your work.

If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.

Enjoy Drawing Beaver!

How to draw a Beaver video

Screenshot from how to draw a beaver

 

 

I love Christmas trees.  It’s not secret either that I love trees.  But at this time of the year it’s special to bring a tree into the house and dress it up with beautiful decorations.

Our Christmas Tree

I drew our Christmas Tree last year.

That’s why it’s been fun to put Christmas trees into my illustrations.

The Porcupine series by Helaine Becker has given me a lot of chances to decorate in pictures.

Pine tree at the end of A Porcupine In a Pine Tree.

Not sure if you can call this a Christmas Tree, but it definitely got decorated at the end of A Porcupine In A Pine Tree

 

I had great fun with beavers busily putting a tree together in Deck the Halls.  It can’t be easy but they never gave up.  I guess there’s a lesson in that.


The tree they build is a bit different.

 

But in the end it looks pretty good, I’d say.   Maybe you be the judge….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things going up

 

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Beaver from Deck the Halls

 

Sometimes things get out of hand

beaver building the knocked down tree

Never let a setback no matter how big or small hold you back!

Beaver building tree

Things are really starting to look good

 

Puffins help decorate

Puffins help with the lights.Wonder who the garbage can is for? Possibly the Raccoons?

 

Lit up Tree

A Beaver Christmas Tree from the Deck the Halls by Helaine Becker.

And one last tree from Dashing Through the Snow, also by Helaine.

The Christmas Tree in Dashing Through The Snow

Another special Tree from Dashing Through the Snow

Enjoy drawing your tree, or any tree! They’re all beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

small carved Caribou from George River

Drawing the Caribou

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me: two caribou.

That would have been interesting around the house!

Caribou are very pretty.  They are the cousins of Santa’s Reindeer but live in Canada’s north.  Maybe once in a while they drop in at the North Pole and help with the sled.  I’ve seen them in the arctic and when they run, they truly look like they could fly.

I’ll post the video of how to draw them at the end of this post after some of the drawings from the video.

Enjoy your drawing!

small carved Caribou from George River

 

Step 1: Keep it simple

Stages of how to draw a caribou

The most important lesson is to start simple and keep it simple.

Step 2: Use simple shapes

How to use simple shapes

Look for simple shapes in everything you draw.

Step 3:  Shapes become Forms

Simple shapes become simple forms

If you want to draw something as it turns, look for simple forms made from simple shapes

Use Reference

I will use anything ranging to a photo to a specimen at a museum, and even in this case a carved wooden caribou I brought back from the North.

Photos from magazines or from the web are an excellent resource. I prefer magazines and books since they are clearer.

 

some drawings of caribou

I did these drawings from a caribou head I found in an antique store where I live.

12 Days of Drawing Day 2: How to draw Caribou Video

Screen capture from youtube video of how to draw the porcupine from Porcupine in a Pine Tree

follow my easy steps to drawing the Porcupine in a Pine tree

The Holidays are very special at this time of year.  Whether you are celebrating Christmas, or Hanukkah, or just taking a break from school and work, it’s a lovely chance to sit back with pencil and paper and draw.

I know that on the First Day of Christmas my true love gave to me: A Pencil!

Actually it was supposed to be a porcupine in a pine tree, but I am very happy with pencils.

That’s why every Christmas I try to do a special pencil drawing to remember the time.  Last year it was our tree.  I’m not sure what it will be this year.  I drew a beautiful tree a few days ago, but I’m still thinking of something special.

Christmas Tree at Langdon Hall

I drew this tree at a beautiful place called Langdon Hall.

 

But since I’m about to start on the illustrations for another silly story/song by Helaine Becker,  I’ll soon be drawing a porcupine and the gang of silly characters from the previous three books.

If you want to draw the characters from Porcupine In A Pine Tree, join me on my Youtube channel; for 12 Days of Drawing.

Please share any drawings with me.  I would love to see what you do.

And I’ll be posting my drawings here for you too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy Drawing!

Communication fixed!

I just recently became aware of the fact that your emails were not coming through to me.  It was quiet for a while. I thought everyone was just busy.

My apologies to everyone who wrote and got no answers.  The problem has been fixed and I’m busy responding.   I’ll get back to everyone.  Thanks again for writing.

thank you for writing to me.

It’s nice to read your letters and notes.

 

Open House Invitation

Invitation to open house

If you are in the Guelph area next weekend, please drop by my studio to see the original paintings and studies that went into “At The Pond”, my latest book that was short-listed for the 2018 Governor General’s Award in Children’s Illustrated Books.

Date:               Sat-Sun, May 11-12

Time:          10:00 am – 4:00 pm

 

Address:         Catch 23 Gallery

23 Wyndham St North.       N1H 4E4

 

I will also be doing live demonstrations and sharing the process behind “At The Pond”, from sketches to practice paintings, maybe even stretching paper. I hope by sharing my journey, I can help to inspire those of you interested in creating your own illustrated books or for anyone who is curious.

The exhibit will be available until May 31st. After May 12th, the exhibit can be viewed until May 31st  in person by appointment.

Please contact me atthepond@wernerzimmermann.ca

I will also be posting more “At The Pond” process work here, so make sure to check for updates!

Hope to see you next weekend!

pencil study of a frog

Porcupine in a Pine Tree is going to be performed in Windsor tonight! 

Wish I was there.

 

UWindsor faculty and alumni will take up their batons alongside maestro Robert Franz during the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s holiday pops concert, this weekend at the Capitol Theatre.

Music professor Bruce Kotowich will lead the WSO Chorus, education faculty member Danielle Sirek will direct the Windsor-Essex Youth Choir, and alumna Erin Armstrong Dickau (BMus 2007) will direct Music Moves Kids in song with the orchestra.

The program will feature an adaptation of Helaine Becker’s book A Porcupine in a Pine Tree: A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas, set to the traditional carol with images of Werner Zimmermann’s illustrations projected on stage. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Two of the three performances are already sold out; there are still tickets for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16.

The orchestra will collect donations of non-perishable food items for the Windsor Essex Food Bank Association, and invites patrons to arrive early and enjoy a warm beverage as the lobby fills with carolers and the sounds of brass quintet.

The Capitol Theatre is located at 121 University Ave. West; buy tickets from its box office, by phoning 519-973–1238, ext. 2, or online at www.windsorsymphony.com.

Strategic Priority:

Happy Singing everyone!

 

http://www.uwindsor.ca/dailynews/2018-12-12/uwindsor-talents-lead-orchestra-holiday-concert?fbclid=IwAR32OYJLs84bFsPzQZm11LgknbrM8WFn3Z_WUY3iBzzU5Szmtr022Ezhw6Y

 

 

Dinner time for Foxy Loxy?

If you’re a turkey, it’s not really a good time around Thanksgiving.   Or Foxes.

That was on my mind when I painted my favorite turkey, the one  in ‘Henny Penny.’

Turkey Lurkey

Henny Penny was my second book.  I was in Germany at the time and turkeys aren’t the tradition there that they are in Canada.  Finding one to paint wasn’t easy.  I ended up using reference from photos, but had a great time with Turkey Lurkey never the less.

In the book it’s never clear whether he ended up dinner for Foxy Loxy or whether there was a feathered getaway.

When I visit schools I always ask for a sequel for what may have happened after they entered the Foxy Loxy’s den.  One day I want to do another book:  The True Story of Henny Penny.

If you think you know, feel free to send it, and if it’s good….we may just be working together.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving if you are reading it in Canada, or a bit later in the land south of us.

Off to tell the King

Off to tell the King!

 

 

 

Christmas Pigs and Cozy Barns

Animals have to be my favorite things to draw and paint,  As for favorite times of the year, Christmas has to rate  near the top.  And finally, barns have always been places I’ve been drawn to for both their size and feeling of coziness in the stables.

That’s why illustrating Pippin the Christmas Pig for Jean Little & Scholastic was a special treat for me: all three came together in one story.

Pippin the Christmas Pig

Cover of Pippin the Christmas Pig

There were many drawings made for each of the paintings in the book, and although I’d love to share all of them, I’ve chosen to post the drawings of the barn.  The exact building doesn’t exist other than in my imagination, but it was drawn on from barns I’d known since my childhood.  Maybe one day I’ll own my own.

sketch of barn interior

A peek through the door

When I create a scene for a book, I like to create a space in which I could move around in and see from all angles.   This image never appears in the book. I drew it so that I would know what entering the barn would look with all the important elements like the manger and even the door in the ceiling in place.

view from above

Looking down from above

Barns often have trap doors in the upper floors to allow hay to be dropped down to feed the animals below.  I used this one to give the reader a peek from above onto what was happening below.

I like putting different viewpoints into my pictures. Perspective changes add drama and excitement. Perhaps it may be because I’m not too fond of heights and this lets me conquer that fear, but never the less I find it fun.

interior of stable

barn interior set up

I needed to set the stage for the scene where Pippin brings the woman and child into the warm stable from the cold outside.  I chose a wide view to allow the cold of the open door to contrast with the warmth at the other end.

I also wanted it cozy, so I chose to create the warmth in the middle surrounded but the walls on three sides and the barrels and tractor  creating a front wall.  The mice on the barrels are spectators to the scene just like the readers who find themselves watching from behind.  The stairs on the back left lead up to the upper barn and ultimately to the trap opening above.

Of course the empty stage is nothing without the actors, and here it’s Pippin bringing the woman and child in and confronting the surprised stable mates.

animals in the barn

Pippin bringing in the visitors.

After the pencil there are colour studies to help set the feeling for each scene. In this book I wanted to contrast warmth of the stable with cold whether outside or upstairs in the barn loft.

colour watercolour of the stable

Colour study of the stable

Painting in the book

Barns often have trap doors in the upper floors to allow hay to be dropped down to feed the animals below.  I used this one to give the reader a peek from above onto what was below.

Pippin the Christmas Pig is a book about the contrast of warm and cold hearts; hearts that eventually warm too.   Jean wrote a lovely story and I was pleased to have been given the chance to illustrate it.

Mr Christies Book awards 2004

Winning the Mr. Christie’s Award 2004

It’s November, and in Toronto it means it’s time for the Royal Winter Fair.  Every year I go with my college students to draw the beautiful animals.  This year due to a very tight schedule, I won’t be going,  However, I thought it’s a nice time to post some drawings from past fairs.

From the books I’ve written and or illustrated in the past, you can easily see that I love drawing and painting animals .  I take every opportunity to study animals when I can. Whether pets or farm animals, or even at museums, it’s always best drawing live animals from life and not just from photos. That’s why the Royal is so special: so many animals together in one place, and all so close you could touch them.

For me, creating good characters for books means studying them, especially from life.  Photo reference is good, but being able to see an animal from many sides, especially if they move, makes for the greatest understanding.  I feel if you understand your subject, you are more able to be in control of your character regardless how you pose them or even change them in caricature.

Rabbits are some of favorites at the show.  Here are a few of my sketches.

Coming soon: Drawing pets