Local artist, Joan Zimmer, is in the midst of painting a large-scale mural for the Dawson Creek Coop card lock in Tumbler Ridge. Jason Schembri, general manager of the Dawson Creek Coop, approached Zimmer to create a mural that would represent Tumbler Ridge and help with local tourism. In response, Zimmer presented the Dawson Creek Coop board with a sketch of her ideas and proposed scene for the mural. The project and proposed scene was approved in August 2007.

Zimmer has been working steadily on the mural. She estimates it will take 240 hours to complete. She has already worked for 84 hours on the project. Unfortunately, the cold weather has halted her painting for the time being. Ideal weather conditions for painting a mural outdoors are a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around 18 degrees Celsius. Zimmer explained the paint will not dry unless the temperature is ideal. She is hoping the weather will warm up again so she can get more done. If not, she says she will have to finish the mural in the Spring of 2008.

The project underway is a scene on three towers. When finished, there will be a dinosaur to the left, jumping on to the next dinosaur beside it, hoping to instigate a fight. There will also be a cut out of a dinosaur that will patrol the top(on the walkway). This cutout will be four feet high and eight feet long. Finally, there will be a very large long-neck dinosaur painted on one of the towers. This dinosaur reaches 28 feet in height.

A lot of preparation goes into a project like this. Zimmer explains she needs help when it comes to creating images of dinosaurs. Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley have been teaching Zimmer about the bone structure of dinosaurs. The lessons have given her an understanding of the anatomy and proportions of dinosaurs. It is a learning process, explains Zimmer.

Dinosaurs are very complex and there are so many different types. Being able create images of dinosaurs that are realistic and appealing to the eye is what Zimmer strives for.

This mural is nothing like other projects Zimmer has completed. When finished, it will be Zimmer?s largest mural to date.

Larger projects require larger tools. In order to reach the height of the mural, which is 28 feet, Zimmer rented a boom truck. A boom truck has an extendable arm with a bucket on the end of it. Zimmer had never used a boom truck before. Her husband, Bruce, gave her lessons moments before she was to start her mural. ?He told me to practice in the parking lot,? said Zimmer. It did not take her too long to get the hang of it, Bruce is a good teacher, explained Zimmer. Standing in the bucket of the boom truck was quite the experience. Being so high up, Zimmer had a good view on what was going on around her. Two black bears kept Zimmer amused for two days while she was in the bucket painting.

Along with the boom truck, Zimmer has had to set up scaffolding. Due to the potential accidents that may arise using these tools, Zimmer has had to take out liability coverage. The Worker?s Compensation Board (WCB) also requires that someone is with Zimmer at all times while she is working on this mural. Ensuring her safety is of highest concern.

If you are out for a drive, or if you are filling up your vehicle at the card lock, make sure you check out the new mural Zimmer is creating. It is one of many murals that will brighten up Tumbler Ridge for a very long time.