Scientific Illustration

For May 1, 2019        
Hi WN@TL Fans,
Painter, engineer, architect, inventor and more: Leonardo Da Vinci put the poly in polymath. As far as I know, as a mathematician he left us no equations, but he did bequeath us unequaled images, including astonishing drawings of the human body and illuminating paintings of the human condition.
Yet for many of us who can draft words but who can’t draw a whirl, his sketches are the beguiling eyecandy.  Deceptively simple, swift lines record life in motion, picture inventions in play, and take the measure of the man in the middle.    

Today we are awash in high-definition photography; megapixels and gigabytes cost farthings and images go farther than ever before.  
So what are the modern roles of the illustrator and the irreplaceable functions of their illustrations?  Why still draw upon pencil and crayon and gouache, or their digital cousins?

Those of us who can’t draw wonder in awe at the talent it takes not only to illustrate, but also the insight it takes to see, to discern, to distinguish, to distill. 
Perhaps it is not only what we see, but how we come to see, that is the luster of illustration, and which may well be the illustrator’s finest gift to us all.
This week (May 1) artist, illustrator and entomologist Jacki Whisenant will be here to share her insights into the history & current state of scientific illustration.
Here’s how Jacki describes her talk:
“Scientific illustration has many facets and approaches depending on the project, the context, and the audience. It needs to be both concise and accurate, but also accessible and memorable. The visual communication of scientific information is paramount in our world of infinite distractions, and we will be discussing historical and modern practices in this ever-changing field.”
About the Speaker:
Jacki Whisenant is a scientific illustrator with a fondness for bats, beetles and other unsung ecological heroes. As an artist and educator, she enjoys finding ways of celebrating the many facets of the natural world, and encouraging enthusiasm for all aspects of science, from the vast down to the very small. Museums and research collections are of particular interest, as reservoirs of natural history.

A Madison native and GNSI member, she is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Entomology at UW-Madison (Young Lab), and holds a Master’s certificate in Science Illustration from California State University – Monterey Bay. She also earned a BFA in Art and Music Performance in 2011at UW-Madison. She delights in any opportunity to get outside and investigate tiny worlds hidden beneath logs and mosses.
You can see more of her work at and read more about her exhibitions, including “Art on View:  Tiny Wonders” currently at the Steinhauer Trust Gallery at the Visitor Center at the UW-Madison Arboretum through May 3, at ,  and also at
Ah, April.  The bungee cord month that baits us with sunny days and then bashes us with snowy nights.  A month of flowers and frosts.  Tonight, April is almost gone.  I heard once, but can’t find a citation now, that Thoreau despised May because it was the end of April. I hold a more Camelot-ish point of view of the fifth month.  
Next week (May 8) Rock Mackie, chief innovation officer at UW Health, will be here to attune us to how he and his colleagues help fuel today’s university-based innovators & entrepreneurs.  We’ve had splendid historical talks on Steenbock and WARF and on Link and Warfarin; now we get to hear how the enterprise sails in today’s weather.
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.
Thanks again!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension