new website, new Playground

This Playground is about to make a move! For the past week I’ve been completely immersed in the process of moving my site into another theme, which was, I must say a monumental task. By trial, ridiculous amounts of error, and hours spent in support forums with computer techies, I’ve learned so much about programming and site design. This really wasn’t my intention, but I think it may have been a happy accident. My new perspective on site design (from the inside out) combined with This Playground’s new look, has led to so many new ideas. Stay tuned! Coming soon!


fotoplay for you : complete the zebra

I’m pleased to offer you the first of many free fotoplay pages! Feel free to print it out for your children, your students, or yourself.  When the page is completed, you can email your work to me. I’m creating a gallery of work created by you, which will soon be on this site.

Also, keep an eye on the fotoplay pages link widget on my sidebar. This is where you’ll soon be able to access all of my free pages.

To download today’s “complete the zebra” page, click HERE.

I look forward to seeing your work!


{note: Sale or publication of fotoplay is prohibited without the written approval of M.J. Bronstein.}



fotoplay : images and hieroglyphs

It’s easy to be wowed by the variety of approaches that students have taken to complete my fotoplay pages. It’s also easy to love these “finished” pages for obvious reasons: they’re unpredictable, clever, imaginative, and very personal.

What might not be so obvious is what takes place while the pages are being completed: the process. Sometimes I’m able to literally watch or hear (some children talk while they draw) what goes on in the process of completing a page. But other times the creative choices (and the connections between them) are more elusive, private, and symbolic.

The page above was completed by an eight year old boy, who very quickly drew his animal in response to the line/leash. This is a deceptive little drawing. So many choices were made! : The scale of the dog; the careful connection of a new (but similar) leash to the one I drew; the direction the dog faces…

The five year old girl who completed this page spent a lot of time interacting with the letters in the words at the top of the page. Back and forth between the sun and the dog, she focused on the words, the spaces between the words, and then the sentence as it’s own visual element.

The eight year old boy who completed this page created a full narrative, with another dog, a man, a far away landscape, a playground and a ball. The connection between the man in the background and the dog on the leash in the foreground is crystal clear.

The page above was created by a five year old girl who is one of my ArtLab students. Week after week I’ve been struck by her work and her repeated use of certain lines and shapes. Like many artists (young or old), she’s created her own alphabet of symbols, her own vocabulary: a personal iconography or system of hieroglyphs where marks made are words and sentences in a private story.


fotoplay : adults jump in

The first thing the participants in Saturday’s workshop found when they came into the ArtLab was a fotoplay prompt. (Looking back at previous posts, I imagine that my love for creating visual prompts is by now clear!) The best part about what then happened, was what is usually the best part about “teaching” : It was I who learned something. What I had thought would be a basic ice-breaker at the beginning of the workshop, turned out to be one of the most loved parts of the day.

Not only did my workshop participants create beautiful, sweet, odd imagery, but they did so using a full spectrum of media: crayon, marker, watercolor, collage…

And then, for the first time ever, I worked on one of my own fotoplay pages. Honestly, in all the days of sharing this work with other people, of creating, printing, and giving out my pages, it never occurred to me to do one myself. I used a small foam stamp, one of the other exercises/projects we did that morning:

I’m really pleased that I did:

*Please note:

fotoplay is a trademark of the Marcie Jan Bronstein art studio.

Please email me if you’re interested in publishing this work for commercial purposes.


creative flow : power in a group

Yesterday’s Shake Up Your Art workshop at the Center For Maine Contemporary Art was fabulous. With a completely game group of adults, lots of art supplies, a great musical soundtrack, and fotoplay (a separate post on this coming soon!), a full collection of strange, funky, surprising work was made. We began as I often do in a workshop, with pencil on paper, moving in response to the sound of Bach:

Then we moved into crayon

and collaborative drawing and painting with a partner (in silence).

We made stamps based on a fragment of a newly-made painting


and then it wasn’t long before those same paintings and drawings were torn up as material for collage

and for those mesmerizing-to-work-on boxes:

At the end of the day, I too was shaken up… completely delighted by the work that had been created.


fotoplay : complete the body

Through the years, I’ve created a number of photo-based projects for students. This past spring, I created my first fotoplay book, 65 pages of photo-based prompts for children (or adults!). I’ve been fascinated with children’s drawings for a long time, but the idea for creating a book was inspired by something I noticed last winter, as I was watching children draw, in direct response to photographic prompts I’d created. The level of concentration was intense, and the approach to engaging with my images was wildly creative. There is much to be considered about what I observed, and what it all might say about a hand-drawn response to a photographic prompt. (And as an added layer of inquiry and wonder, there’s much to be considered about the difference between fotoplay and a hand-drawn response to a hand-drawn prompt or “doodle.”) Art educators, cognitive development scientists, I’d love to hear from you!

But for the moment, I’ll let the drawings speak:

Created by a five year old:

This four year old child told me that in the space above and to the right of her green elephant body, there was another “story” happening:

Created by a five year old:

And finally, this was created by a three year old:

Please stay tuned for free downloads of pages you can give to your children (or yourself), which you can then upload to the gallery space I’m creating in this playground.

*And please note:

fotoplay is a trademark of the Marcie Jan Bronstein art studio.

Please email me if you’re interested in publishing this work for commercial purposes.