The Beards of Art History–The Final

George Ohr continued his steamroller-esque run through the bracket, taking Frida Kahlo out with 93% of the vote. Salvador Dali had a little more difficulty, beating Ai Weiwei with 61% of the vote.

So now, it’s all come down to this . . . the final. Salvador Dali. George Ohr. Who has the greatest facial hair in art history? Vote below!


March Madness: The Beards of Art History



Scroll down to the matchups to see the results of the voting!

There are always so many parody tournaments out there this time of year, capitalizing on the “March Madness” theme. My first was 8 or 9 years ago, where we had a 48-entrant tournament for the best old school video game of all time (Super Mario Bros. was the winner).


We’ve also done animal fights to the death, best cartoon villians, favorite foods, and favorite candy. We do presentations on our favorite artists and vote on the best as part of the curriculum. I haven’t been in love with any of my latest ideas, and it’s been a couple of years, but we’re back this year with a great tournament AND an art tie-in: The Beards of Art History.

I decided to allow a little bit of leeway with the definition of what constitutes a “beard”. Salvador Dali’s mustache is here, as are Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows (eyebrow?), and a couple other surprises. They are seeded 1 through 16, from best to worst, and matched up accordingly in the first round. We’re not without controversy, however, as the seeding committee left off the beards of a couple old masters (Michelangelo and DaVinci), as well as Albrecht Durer.

Below are the official seeds and matchups; remember we’re voting on beards only, not artistic talent or quality of work. We do spend some time talking about the art, however–it should be a little bit educational, right? Our first round voting will be Wednesday and Thursday, with quarterfinals Friday, semifinals Monday, and finals on Tuesday. I will be collecting votes in class, and on Twitter (I’m @eastartroom). Feel free to chime in when I tweet out the matchups or in the comments here!

(1) George Ohr DEFEATS (16) Edouard Vuillard

(8) 1960s Chuck Close LOSES TO (9) 2000s Chuck Close

(4) Frida Kahlo DEFEATS (13) Gustav Klimt

(5) Carl Andre DEFEATS (12) Vincent van Gogh

(2) Salvador Dali DEFEATS (15) Henri Matisse

(7) Man Ray’s ½ Beard DEFEATS (10) Gustave Courbet

(3) Ai Weiwei DEFEATS (14) Constantin Brancusi

(6) Auguste Rodin BARELY LOSES TO (11) Ana Mendieta’s Glued On Mustache Made from Her Real Hair

A few thoughts from our official analysts (my seniors):

  • Rodin seems underseeded at 6. Should be higher, and he’s got a tough first-round matchup.
  • Good thing Ana Mendieta and Carl Andre are on opposite sides of the bracket. Could be awkward.
  • Carl Andre looks like his hair migrated down his face and collected in his beard.
  • Looking for Courbet to pull the upset over that weird half-beard.
  • Vuillard doesn’t stand a chance.

Can’t wait for this to start!

Drama Notebook with Janea Dahl

I was recently given the opportunity, through the Art of Ed, to interview Janea Dahl about her Drama Notebook website. It is a great site that shares a plethora of ways to bring Drama into your classroom–whether you teach Art, English, Science, or anything else. I asked her about a lot of activities specific to teaching art–figure drawing, emotional portraits, and still life drawing included–and how I might be able to use them in my own classroom. The article and condensed interview can be read on AOE here, but if you are interested in the full interview, you can read it below:

TIM: I spend a significant amount of time building community among the students in my classroom, starting on day one. What are some of your favorite get-to-know you activities both when introducing yourself, and also once you know a little about your classmates?

JANEA: I’m glad that you spend time doing that in your classroom. Often, students are reluctant to share their creativity when they do not feel trusting of the group as a whole. In theatre, we call this “building ensemble.” It is essential for actors to feel truly supported by one another before they can become vulnerable enough to deliver a strong performance.

I have two personal favorite ‘bonding games’ that work well together.

The Truth About Me

Have all students stand on one side of the room. One at a time, a person walks to the other side of the room states their name and says, “The truth about me is _____________________.” It can be anything, but encourage students to share something personal. Lead by example by sharing something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know. “I’m Mr. Bogatz and the truth about me is that I love to sing, but I only sing when I’m by myself,” is better than “The truth about me is that I like pizza.” Next, have anyone else who shares that same truth, walk to the other side of the room and join that person. Ask students to notice who else shares their true thing, then repeat the process with a new player. Play until each person has had a chance to go.

The next game is a great follow-up to the group game above.

Story of Your Name

One at a time in a circle, or small groups if the class is large, have players take turns telling the stories of their names. Instruct players that it can be a first name, a last name, a middle name or a nickname. If a player does not know the story, or if it is something they do not wish to share, let them know that they can lie! After the player has told his/her story, let the group vote on whether or not they think it is true.

Or try this!

Story of your pet’s name.

Story of your online name or gamer name.

What you would want to name your children and why?

TIM: A lot of art teachers do portraits that deal with emotions. However, I know many of us have trouble with students posing and showing these emotions in a realistic way. What would you suggest to help students tap into (and then demonstrate) these emotions as they are posing for portraits? 

JANEA: In acting, when an actor makes a stereotypical face, this is called ‘indicating.’ All actors work to overcome this practice and become authentic. This also makes for great art!

For example, if a scene calls for one person to be very angry, the actor may raise his voice and shake his fist at the other character to show that he is angry. Not only might this feel inauthentic, it may be the wrong choice for his character. Many people show anger by lowering their voices or by distancing themselves. This concept goes beyond emotions to the five senses. People react differently to various tastes, temperatures, etc. You may wish to give a brief explanation of this concept before starting any practice activities.

Here are two practice exercises that will help your students become more realistic when portraying emotions:

The Many Faces of Mad

Have students mill about the room-or find their own space in the room if space is limited. (Walking in-between the prompts serves as a re-set before a new emotion is called.) You may wish to play music during this activity.

Explain that you are going to call out certain emotions or situations, and that when that happens, students must stop walking and react the way they would in real life. Tell students that they don’t need to emote or move into a pose right away; stress that it’s more important to be “real” than it is to be fast. Let them know that it’s okay to imagine the situation for a moment before reacting. You may wish to start by engaging students in their senses and then move on to emotions. Here are some examples of what to say when introducing the senses/emotions.

“Many Faces of Mad” Prompts:

HOT- It is the hottest day of the summer. There is no breeze and no air conditioning. You are extremely hot! How do you show people that you are too hot? What does your body do? How do you stand? Do you attempt to cool yourself? How?

COLD-The weatherman was wrong. You are waiting at the bus stop without a coat and you are extremely cold. What do you do when you are this cold? Do you hop from foot to foot? Do you dig your hands deep into your pockets, or do you stand very still, shivering?

SOUR-Think of something that is very sour and imagine tasting it. What does it feel like on your tongue? How does your face react? Do you feel the ‘sour’ affect other parts of your body? Where?

ANGER-Your parents have just punished you for something you didn’t do. They won’t listen and don’t believe you. You are so mad you feel as though you could burst. What does your face look like when you are mad? Do you frown? Stare at the other person? Do you squint your eyes? What does your body look like when you are mad? How do your muscles feel? Which ones tense up?

SADNESS-Today is the day that your family has to take your favorite pet to be put down. It’s the right thing to do, but this pet has been with you your whole life. Your life feels empty knowing that your pet will soon be gone. What does your face look like when you are sad? How do your eyes feel? Where else in your body do you feel the sadness?

EXCITEMENT-You just won tickets to a concert with your favorite band. Not only that, you get to go backstage and meet the musicians. You are so excited that it almost doesn’t seem real! What happens when you get really excited? Does it only show on your face, or do you feel it somewhere else in your body? Do you move, or stand still?

BOREDOM-You have been home sick for two weeks. You have totally run out of things to do. You are even considering playing with your little brother. You’ve never been this bored in your life. How about when you are bored? When you are bored, do you feel like moping around on the couch, or do you get up and try to find something to do?

FEAR- You just moved in to a new house that has a creepy vibe. One night, the power goes out and you leave your room to find your parents. No one answers when you call out and as you move down the hallway, you swear that someone is right behind you, but there is no one there. What happens in your body when you are afraid? Do you feel like running, or do you just stand there frozen in place? Where in your body do you feel fear the most?


Did you feel successful at making each emotion real for you?

Which ones were the hardest?

What did you notice about the group as a whole?

Did everyone look the same or different in each scenario?
Why do you think there was such a variety?

How can we use this activity to be better subjects?

How can we use this activity to become better artists?

TIM: On a related note, would you have any suggestions on ways in which we could change appearances for portraits to make them more interesting? This could be a literal or a figurative change.

JANEA: Ask students to think of someone they have strong feelings about and ask them to imagine that the person is sitting right in front of them. Or, ask students to imagine becoming that person!

TIM: I was looking at your “Change Three Things” activity where students change things about themselves which others must notice. I was thinking about incorporating this with drawing people or even with drawing a still life. Which do you think would be better, and why? Would you have suggestions for other ways to turn that exercise into a drawing activity?

JANEA-Okay, here’s one off the top of my head. Have students play the game, “Change Three Things” in class. Have them practice really noticing one another. Next, as homework, ask them to come prepared to play again the next class, this time, changing three things that heighten or showcase their personality. They can bring props or clothing items, or simply hold a specific impression. Have each student go up in front of the class and have the other class members answer questions about them.


What has this person changed/added?

What does that tell us about him/her?

How can we make this useful in our art?

For still life, try this one:

Random Still Life

Have students bring three things to class that absolutely have nothing to do with one another. Next, place all of the objects on a table and let students take turns choosing one item at a time until everyone has three. Ask students to think about why they chose those three items and then ask them to find a connection between all three and paint/draw something that expresses how they are connected.

TIM: My students, when posing for gesture drawings, need to do multiple poses that can be held for 20-30 seconds (sometimes more). What might be a good activity to make these poses more interesting to view and draw?

JANEA: In theatre, we often experiment with levels-both levels of the stage and levels of our bodies. Invite subject students to use high and low spaces in the room as well as a complete range of body positions from lying prone on the ground to reaching for the sky. Instruct subject students that they must incorporate at least one lying position, one sitting or crouching position and one full standing position.

If you are concerned about gestures specifically, you could have a ready-made list of prompts to give to students that you can cut apart and put in a hat. Students LOVE picking from a hat! When giving the prompt, ask students to make a specific choice. For example, if they pulled, “wiping away a tear,” ask them to think about what had made them cry. If they are hailing a cab, ask them to imagine their precise location and circumstance.

Suggestions could include:


Wiping away a tear

Scratching an itch

Holding a butterfly on your hand

Blowing a kiss

Hailing a cab

Blowing warm air into your cold hands

Wiping your brow

Pointing a ‘naughty’ finger at someone

TIM: When beginning the class, we sometimes do exercises to stretch our hands, wrists, and arms before we draw. Is there a good Drama equivalent to this that we could incorporate?

JANEA: In my opinion, drawing is a whole-body, whole mind activity. Why not start each session with a relaxing and simple warm-up routine set to music? Here is a simple outline:

Sample Physical Warm-up Routine

Bending Stretch

Stand with your feet apart. Hang your trunk and arms down from your waist. Gently bend over, stretching your fingers to touch the floor if possible. Slowly stand back up.


Repeat, but this time, sway your arms gently from side to side, as you bend down and touch the ground. Slowly stand back up.


Stretch each arm up over your head, lean to one side, then the other. Let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Clench your fists for ten seconds, then relax.


Clench your feet, arching them as much as possible. Release them. Rest.


Lock your knees back. Release them. Rest.


Round your shoulders, keeping your arms loose. Release them. Rest.


Hang your head. Gently roll it to the right and the left. Let it roll backwards. Roll it gently to the right and left again. Let it fall to your chest.


Scrunch up all of your face muscles and then relax them. Repeat. Close your eyes tightly, relax them and then let them open. Open your eyes as wide as possible, wrinkle your brow and then relax. Smile as wide as you can, then relax your mouth.


Bounce a little on your feet, swing your arms lightly, move your head easily. Feel your balance and posture. Your head should be erect, comfortable poised atop your neck.

TIM: Do you have any other ideas, games, or activities that would work well in an art classroom? What are some of your favorite activities that translate well outside your own classroom?

JANEA: I literally have hundreds more ideas on Drama Notebook, many of which can easily be adapted for use in an art classroom. For instance, here is an excellent activity to offer as a pre-cursor to an abstract art unit:

Hide in Plain Sight

Instruct students that in a minute they are going to play ‘hide and seek,’ only there is a catch: instead of hiding behind, in or under something, they must hide in plain sight. Give the example of the chameleon that blends into its environment making it hard to see at first glance. Tell the group to consider shapes of things, colors, and spatial relationships in their hiding decision.

Send one person out of the room, and give the group a few minutes to ‘hide.’ Once they are hidden, ask them to imagine being one with their environment. Say, “Imagine that you are not visible to the naked eye.” Let the outside student back into class. Tell him that he must choose the person who is the most successful at blending into his environment. The student chosen will be IT for the next round.

This game can be especially challenging when working in an empty space, or a confined space. The students have to rely mostly on mental imagery and abstract thinking in order to blend in. As always, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong answers.’

Time permitting, ask for volunteers to explain their choices and then relate their answers to the concepts of abstract art.

The applied arts are similar to dramatic arts in that skill and discipline matter, but more important is the ability to express an individual, very unique viewpoint through the medium. This requires a personal risk and a level of vulnerability that many find hard to achieve. Incorporating dramatic concepts such as building ensemble, movement and ‘character’ development into the process can help students feel more comfortable with taking risks and sharing their true selves.

TIM: Any other thoughts you would like to add or share?

JANEA: I would like to thank the amazing art teachers who are dedicating themselves to helping kids embrace their creativity.

I believe that one very powerful way to heal our world is to inspire the younger generation to imagine and create a different future—a future where each person is safe, loved, seen and nourished. I know that sounds idealistic. But every day, I work to make my contribution to that vision. I send out my creativity and love to young people through their amazing teachers who are doing what I believe to be one of the most important jobs in the world.

Thank you for letting me share with you and your readers, and thank you for all you do.


Janea Dahl Bio

Janea is the author of Drama Notebook-the world’s largest collection of drama games and activities for kids and teens. She was the founder of the largest drama outreach organization in her state, and was the lead drama trainer for Portland Public Schools before creating the site. She is also the drama curriculum developer and trainer for Kaplan Early Learning. Janea is dedicated to uplifting the younger generation through imaginative play and performance. You may visit her website at .

Goals for the Upcoming Year

As you may have seen/heard, I’m now a writer for the Art of Education website. I’m really excited to have a drastically expanded audience (and getting paid isn’t too bad either). I will still be posting here regularly, however. I need to toss up the artworks of the week, try out some ideas, and every once in a while write 3,000 words on something fairly meaningless.

As we start out this year, check out my posts on AOE as they come up–leave some comments if you’d like–and keep checking back here. In the meantime, I thought it would be worthwhile to make a short list of what I want to accomplish/improve in my art room this year.


I need to do a better job of critiques, both formal and informal. Sometimes we will do them formally, sometimes informally, but both my students and I need to do them more often because students can learn so much from discussions about their work. Kids who aren’t very good can capitalize on the successes they have, and kids who are already successful can see the small things they need to do to take their work to the next level.

Art Olympics

This is a great activity that I’ve done with Art Club, and need to do again. We throw paintbrushes and palettes, we play shuffleboard with discarded ceramics, we run relay races in which each team smashes an unwanted sculpture, keeping score the entire time to determine the winner. It’s an incredible way to spend a Saturday. I will definitely post about this if it happens, because it’s always spectacular.

Try Some New Things!

Experiment a little more with our drawing. We’re too uptight about things, need to let loose with some of our attitudes and some of our drawings. We’re going to try some experimental techniques, some different media, and enjoy the process!

Get More Involved with NATA

NATA is the Nebraska Art Teachers Association, and I’ve taken on a small leadership role this year. I love everything it has to offer, and I want to take full advantage of the opportunities. I’m looking forward to the state conference in September, and I have a drawing that will be part of the Art Educators’ exhibition there. It should be a great time, and later in the year, I’m really hoping to host some art teacher get-togethers.


We’ll do some of this with teachers and classes close by, and some with teachers and classes far away. I’ve got plans for projects with other Omaha schools, and plans with other schools all over the country. Fingers crossed that they go well :)

I’ll post about all of these things as they happen this year, but I wanted to put them out there now so I have a little bit of accountability chasing after me. Best of luck to everyone as they start their year!

Paint Fight


So, you may have been seen our Paint Fight Gallery and wondered exactly what my students are able to get away with in class these days. Well, a lot, actually, and we had a great time doing it.

The impetus for this was a discussion in class on how to make portraits more interesting. We thought it would be a great idea to do portraits of people covered in paint. Unfortunately, there’s really not time to cover each other in paint during the normal school day, so we had to wait until summer school to pull this off. It was totally worth it.

To begin, we looked at Jackson Pollock:

And Yves Klein’s Anthropometries (human paint brushes–some of which are naked, but it’s tasteful. Don’t watch if you’re worried about naked people):

We then got our paint ready–a lot of watered down acrylic and tempera. We also punctured some holes in small containers of paint so we could drip color out of the bottom, a la Jackson Pollock. A few brushes, some large butcher paper to create our paintings, and we were just about ready to go.



We did have to make a couple of wardrobe alterations, however. We lost socks and shoes, glasses, and anything in our pockets (paint soaks through and covers anything inside of your clothes). Allyah needed to come up with a hijab that she could ruin with paint stains. It happened to be an old white t-shirt that she stapled together so it would hold.



Jo altered her shirt to say “Train through the Paint”–seems appropriate.


Then it was time to head outside and go crazy with the paint. We had three rules:

  • No paint on the concrete (sidewalks and parking lot)
  • No paint on the school exterior
  • No paint on the cars parked near our painting space

Other than that, everything else was fair game, and we had a great time throwing, painting, dripping, and generally just making a giant mess.

Nicole was our first victim:

And then it was Katie:

I think these before and afters are a good illustration of exactly what happened to everyone:

When we were done, everyone posed for formal portraits. I’m actually pretty excited how they turned out. A few of the close up head shots:

And a few of the full-body poses were pretty cool as well:

Those who spent time cleaning up REALLY spent some time cleaning up, going so far as to sit in our sink. A few people, like Jo, decided to just move on with our day covered in paint :)

Now, we are on to the drawings of these spectacular photos, which will be the end result of all this craziness. I can’t wait.

Paint Fight Gallery

I’ll do a write-up of everything we did in a day or two, but for now, here are our formal portraits we took at the end of the day. View. Download. Enjoy.

Spreading Positivity

20140502_082942 I guess the best description of this would be a guerilla art project, but however you might describe it, our goal today was to spread positivity throughout our school. The original idea came from Sam (you may remember him from his Gummy Bear freak-out earlier this year), who had spent some time writing various positive messages on sticky notes. 20140502_073414 We decided to take that idea and run with it. Everyone in class who wanted to participate was given a pad of sticky notes that they filled with positive messages. Some were quotes, some were compliments, and some were inspiration messages. We even had a few pick-up lines–we kept the funny ones and had to get rid of the inappropriate ones.

Lastly, I ordered some business cards that complimented people on their appearance and then asked them to pass it along to someone else attractive that they ran into that day. 20140502_073634 All in all, we had 500 cards and close to 2,000 sticky notes. At the end of first period, we covered the school with messages on lockers, doors, walls and windows, and started to pass out the cards. A few teachers took a few notes down, and the custodians weren’t really happy with us, but overall the messages were very well-received. Screenshot 2014-05-02 13.09.47 Screenshot 2014-05-02 13.10.10 Screenshot 2014-05-02 13.12.33 Screenshot 2014-05-02 13.15.05   A lot of students have been keeping the notes for themselves, and we’ll see how far those cards go from here. Call it performance art, call it guerilla art, call it sticky note graffiti, but in any case I think we can say this project was a success.

Iowa Western Field Trip

Every year (for the past 10, anyway), we travel to Iowa Western for their juried art show and workshops as an all-day field trip. They really do an outstanding job with the workshops, the art show is always of very high quality, and the awards ceremony is nicely done. On top of that, the kids love the fact they get prize money for gold and silver awards; eating at a college cafeteria is also a thrill for whatever reason. Between all of these things, it keeps us coming back year after year.

This year, we had another really good experience. The workshops were made up of three parts:

Critique of the art show

Expressive drawing workshop

Photography tips and editing tricks

Kids are split up into groups and rotate around to each of the three workshops. We had a good chance to talk in-depth about a lot of the works that won awards. Here’s a few of them:

I really like how the critique is done–the professor guides without overwhelming, letting the kids do most of the talking and thinking.

We’ve had times before where the kids pick out which works they would like to discuss, but the juror spends the entire hour doing all the talking. There may not be the same type of intellectual discourse, but I’d rather my kids be active and thinking rather than passive and (maybe) listening.

The drawing workshop was also good, mostly because the professor continued to push kids outside of their comfort zone. They got out the mirrors, and did self-portraits with an odd expression.

The drawing techniques and materials they selected were something different from what they are used to (i.e., if you usually use graphite, go with color, or if you always sit, try drawing when standing up). It was a good change, and we got some fun results.

DSCN2319 DSCN2320

Lastly, we went outside for a quick photo shoot, then spent some time in the lab learning some simple tricks for editing in Photoshop and making your work look the best it can when presenting, submitting for contests, etc. It should be a huge help as we put together AP portfolios in a few weeks.

After that, we loaded up our plates in the cafeteria, ate way too much slightly above average food, and went back for the awards ceremony. Our winners received $50 for their gold awards, and $25 for the silver awards. Our friends from the other high school in town took the best in show award, which was very deserved, and picking up our own awards was a good way to end the day. Very cool trip overall.

Alumni Check-In

The Bellevue East Art Room Alumni have had a pretty good couple of weeks. Since I know you don’t care about this NEARLY as much as I do, I’ll make the rundown quick.

Josef Lang won a huge award–he was named best in show at the Monsters of Design contest in Kansas City.


Regular readers may remember his Copenhagen Chair; it’s now on it’s 5th incarnation, and he’s getting close to mass production because there is such interest. You can read an article about him (and the contest) here.


Brandon Vinson, our 2007 2D Artist of the Year, was named the United States Navy’s Outstanding Graphic Artist for 2013.


Annie Mullins, awesome artist, singer/songwriter, and all-around incredible person, released her third album. I haven’t heard it yet, but I can’t wait to get my hands (and ears) on it.


And last but not least, Ashley Touchton just put up a great installation at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Hexagon Gallery. She is studying there as an undergraduate and doing some really great work. Here are a couple of cool pics:

Thanks for indulging me as I put up pictures and work from kids you probably don’t know :) I’m proud of my students, and it’s always a good feeling to see them continue to be successful.

I’m Kind of A Big Deal . . .

Screenshot 2014-02-27 10.17.11

MD Savran, author of I Heard You Can Draw!, has been interviewing different art teachers from all over the country (interesting idea, right???), and I was the latest teacher on the list. I talked a little bit about myself, my favorite project to teach, some classroom ideas, and a few other things. It was definitely enjoyable. If you are interested, You can read the interview here and You can check out her book here.