Jennifer O'Connell Author of Eye of the Whale
Lower School students are in for an artistic treat this week, now that Jennifer O'Connell, author of Eye of the Whale, is in residence to discuss empathy, teach art techniques, and help participants create their own illustrated picture books. The residency was underwritten by a PA grant and coordinated by Lower School Art Teacher Lindy Russell-Heyman.
On Monday, the first day of Bethesda-based O'Connell's residency, Lower School students gathered in the library to hear the story behind her book, Eye of the Whale, which is based on the true story of divers who freed a humpback whale who was tied up in fishing line. After divers untangled the whale, the creature gently nudged one of the divers, in what appeared to be a grateful gesture.
Ms. O'Connell brought a life-sized picture of a whale's tail to give students a sense of perspective. That was displayed in the Lower School library, where Ms. O'Connell met her collaborators for the week and read through her book. With first-to-third graders, she discussed how action taken in Potomac, Maryland affect the ocean and whales.
Tuesday, the residency will move to The Blair Center, where Ms. O'Connell will work with students in the studio.
Ms. O'Connell uses her story to talk with students about empathy, biology, and environmental stewardship. The books Bullis students create will focus on four areas where Lower School students can use their empathy to make a difference: Helping Marine Life, Helping Bees, Helping Other People, and Helping Homeless Cats and Dogs.
Younger students will use watercolor, while students in grades four and five will explore an acrylic, scratching, and colored pencil technique featured in the work of Raul Colon. Colon's books, including Imagine, feature a highly textured, multi-dimensional look created by this method.
I am really looking forward to learning how to draw like she can, and to working with acrylics" said fifth-grade student Daniel Horan. Daniel also enjoyed the story of the whale's rescue. "It showed that the whale cared and the people cared so much they risked their lives to help.