Virge Kask - Scientific Illustrator
Virge Kask draws what she sees. Always an artist, her work has mapped and illustrated the natural world locally and beyond. As an undergraduate, she was an art major fascinated by earthworms and beetles when she saw an exhibit of Biological Illustration and found her calling. Virge earned her degree in Biology, as well as a degree in Geography with an emphasis on Cartography, a field she worked in for several years after graduation. She drew maps for the USDA, oceanographic maps, and civil engineering maps.
Virge developed a successful business as a freelance natural science illustrator for scientific journals, children’s books, educational posters, museum exhibits, and textbooks. Her images are precise with clear, distinct lines, and delicate shading, as they have to be in order to communicate anatomy and concepts visually. The work of a Scientific Illustrator depends on accuracy, readability, and the beauty of the rendering to communicate details. The illustration must be scientifically accurate as a good drawing enriches further understanding of the subject. She often works directly from specimens, such as the New Zealand Grass Cicada, which she drew for the cover of Systematic Biology using a box of specimens and a few photographs. Virge’s work can also be idealized, rendering the flight of an arctic tern or a feeding hummingbird with a clarity that a photograph can rarely match, paired with strong, vibrant colors. She relies on her travel experiences to inform her representations, ranging from Alaska to the Chesapeake to Central America’s Rainforest, from which she drew inspiration for her work on interactive critical habitat posters. These subjects come to life when Virge uses a burnishing technique with PrismacolorTM colored pencils on a thick translucent film called cronaflex. This technique, which she discovered a number of years ago, creates vibrant, opaque images that are easily reproduced. Virge is also proficient in other traditional media such as carbon dust and pen & ink, as well as digital rendering techniques