Fall Sketchbook: Vignettes in Science Illustration | wisconsinacademy.org
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Fall Sketchbook POSTPONED

Fall Sketchbook: Vignettes in Science Illustration

Course Starts

September 30, 2023

Course Time (CST)

9:00 am to 11:00 am

Course Type


Course Ends

November 18, 2023

Course Cost


Join instructor Jacki Whisenant for a series of vignettes in drawing and painting exercises, with an eye toward scientific accuracy and natural history as well as field sketching/nature journaling techniques. This work can be as detailed or as expressive as you would like – the course will explore several techniques that may work differently across various subject types. The primary purpose of the class is to encounter a wide variety of subjects and materials, to practice and experiment, and enjoy the visual exploration of the natural world! Jacki will share zoological specimens for reference which may include animal skeletons and/or taxidermy mounts on one or more of the class days. Other subjects will include entomology (insects), botanical specimens both dried and fresh, and dried corals and other marine invertebrates.

Postponed - New Schedule TBD!


Start thinking now about interesting things in the natural world or in any area of the sciences that you find intriguing or fascinating. This could be the flight motion pattern of a dragonfly wing, how bones change to support massive animals verses tiny ones, the life cycle of microscopic critters that live in moss, the texture of a grain of pollen, etc. Keep a sheet of paper handy to jot down ideas for things you would be interested in drawing, so if you are wondering what to do next, there is a ready-made suggestion list for a new project or sketch.

Be prepared for the “potato” phase – there is always a first layer and sketchy beginning that may feel a little strange and uncomfortable. This is part of every artwork and the best thing to do is keep working through it – it’s all part of exploring and learning. Sometimes it is also good to pause and come back to it after a little while with fresh eyes and fresh hands. 


These are a sampling of supplies that are used in traditional scientific illustration. Since this is a class for exploring these techniques, we don’t want you to break the bank if you don’t already have some of these materials, so only get a small number of items to try them out before investing a lot of money. If you any questions about materials, please let the instructor know!

  • Mixed media pad (any size, any brand) - or comparable sketchbook of medium to heavy weight paper that is good for a variety of wet and dry media.
  • Colored pencil set - should include at least 12 colors
  • Technical drawing pens (Pigma Micron pens or similar) Sizes: 0.5, 0.2, 0.05
  • Graphite pencils (at least 4B, 2B, HB, H)
  • Pentel waterbrush or similar (paintbrush with a handle that can be filled with water – this brush changed watercolors for Jacki)
  • Watercolor set with at least 10 colors, any brand that you are comfortable with, or if you are new to watercolors: a Cotman dry pan watercolor is just fine. If you would prefer to work with dry materials only, that is perfectly fine as well
  • Scrap paper for working out layouts (several sheets of plain printer paper is fine)
  • Erasers: Kneaded eraser, “regular” rubber or vinyl eraser
  • Tracing paper for transferring designs and grid/measuring work

Digital techniques are an essential part of contemporary scientific illustration practice, but the course will not specifically cover these programs. Jacki can demonstrate if interested.

SCHOLARSHIP AVAILABLE: There is one (1) scholarship available for this course. Students of need are encouraged to apply through our Scholarship Application page.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS COURSE? Visit our FAQ page or e-mail Operations Manager Matt Rezin.

DISCOUNT FOR ACADEMY MEMBERS: Members receive a 10% discount Member Rate on this course (discount applied during registration). Not an Academy member? Choose the "Member Rate + Membership" option during registration to receive your discount rate. Academy Members receive discounts on courses, contests, and ticketed events, as well as an annual subscription to Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine.



Jack Whisenant is a scientific illustrator with a fondness for bats, beetles, and other unsung ecological heroes. After completing a course in Science Illustration at CSU-Monterey Bay, Jack is currently finishing a Master's in Entomology at UW-Madison. Always inspired by the natural world, it is a delight to get outside and investigate tiny...

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