Art by Jeff Knecht

The Landmark Cafe at Lincoln Park Zoo

02 Aug 2009

People who dine at this building in the Lincoln Park Zoo have a nice view of the lion habitat. The lions have an equally nice view of the people. I wonder who enjoys watching whom more?

This building caught my eye a few weeks ago, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect day to go back and paint it. Today was that day.

I arrived before the cafe opened, and sketched out the contours. I layed down the first set of washes, and then wouldn’t you know… someone came out and opened all the umbrellas. I decided to leave them closed in this painting and just rely on memory for the color and shadow.

One thing I learned from this painting is that I need to get faster. It took me an hour and a half to get the painting to its current state. And, while I’m relatively happy with the end result, it still looks to me like a rather quick sketch.

I’m still having trouble getting really dark darks. I’m not sure if this is a limitation of the medium or if I’m just doing something wrong. Given some of the better watercolor paintings I’ve seen, I am inclined to believe the problem is me.

Another thing I learned today is that people will leave you alone at the zoo. Everywhere else that I’ve drawn in public, people had no qualms about walking right up to me and looking over my shoulder to see what I was doing. Today, people walked by as if I weren’t there. That almost more unsettling than the other way ’round.

This is the first traditional watercolor I’ve done in a while. I’m not sure which I prefer doing: traditional, or ink and wash. I suppose I’ll have to continue working on both until one emerges as a preference. The ink and wash sketches are certainly faster to finish; but that may just be a matter of practice.

Note: The scanner washed the colors out slightly. Bad, scanner.