Scientific Illustration: Spring Sketchbook |
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Scientific Illustration: Spring Sketchbook

Course Starts

April 1, 2023

Course Time (CST)

9:00 am to 11:00 am

Course Type


Course Ends

May 20, 2023

Course Cost


Join instructor Jacki Whisenant for a seasonally-themed sketchbook exploration designed to encourage the incorporation of art into a regular practice for relaxation and artistic exploration. The class will explore techniques for field sketching while out on a spring hike, individual spot illustrations of natural objects like seeds, spring snow and new plant growth, as well as guided exercises for looking at color and texture in both settings. This is a way to make space in the day for art as an enjoyable practice to take with you far beyond the limits of this class.

A slight change from past spring sessions: We will start the first few weeks focusing on black-and-white media, concentrating on graphite and ink. The second four weeks of the class will focus more specifically on watercolor techniques to bring color into your work as the spring season becomes more colorful as well.

I want to draw!


  • Graphite pencils (2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B) - or just stick with regular pencils, that’s equally fine! When I field sketch I usually just have a regular pencil...
  • Erasers (kneadable and regular style)
  • Ink (Micron pens: a couple different pen sizes, ex: 01, 02, 04)
  • Colored pencils (any brand – we just want at least 1-2 colors for preliminary sketch warm-ups where we use a different color to start)
  • Waterbrush (this is a type of brush that has a fillable handle where water can come out through the bristles themselves. I’ve had best luck with Pentel waterbrushes - they don’t suck color back up into the waterwell, which happens with some brands)
  • Watercolor (any brand, at least 8 colors Cotman/Winsor Newton are fine but brand is less important than having something to experiment with) Dry pans are easier to take out field sketching, since the tube colors require much more setup - but you can make your own “dry pans” by making dollops of color in a small palette or even an old “Altoids” tin and letting them dry out for a few days.
  • Multimedia paper (any brand, any size, I like Canson 9x12 myself because it is flexible for many media types, hence, the name). This will have you well set up for wet or dry media, so it’s good to be flexible. Regular “sketch” type paper is good for graphite and ink, but it can be pretty flimsy for anything else. But if you have a paper that you like and works well for you, go for it.
  • Items from the natural world for some of the warm-up exercises (please do not take anything from state parks or state natural areas of course). Interesting leaves, stones, pinecones, twigs, plants, seeds, etc.

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.



Jacki 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, Jacki 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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Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery 
3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
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Phone: 608.733.6633 x25