Ever feel frazzled walking through an exhibit hall? Everywhere you look, exhibitors try to attract your attention with innovative booth designs and eye-catching giveaways. That is how I felt weaving my way through the exhibits at the Fifth Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum (held March 30-31 at the Baltimore Convention Center) until I stumbled upon a different kind of booth, tucked away at the back corner of the exhibit hall. There were no fancy signs, no plush carpeted floors, and no giveaways. Well, not for the attendees anyway.

The booth was run by a nonprofit organization called The Foundation for Hospital Art, which set up two modest tables, each with six canvases laid out side-by-side. The idea was to let Pharma Forum attendees spend a few minutes participating in a community service activity — a “paint-by-numbers” type exercise that (we were assured) would result in a beautiful piece of artwork that would be donated to a hospital in need.

I quickly selected a jar of bright green paint and got to work filling in what appeared to be grass (conveniently pre-dotted green to show me where to color). Almost immediately the buzz of the exhibit hall faded into the background — who knew painting would be so calming and Zen-like? Although the canvas in front of me looked more like abstract art, I was told it would eventually join its five counterparts to become a mother giraffe and its baby grazing in a field.

It has been a long time since my coloring book days, and it turns out painting in the lines was not as easy as it looked (perhaps it was that third cup of coffee that made my hand so shaky), but it really doesn't matter how skilled (or unskilled) you are. The canvases are surprisingly foolproof. The Foundation for Hospital Art will even touch up the painting before donating it if you desire.

PaintFests, as the activities are called, can be used for teambuilding events and can be customized to your group's needs and budget. The Foundation also offers economical painting kits that include all the supplies needed to set up a PaintFest. Groups can select the healthcare facility that will receive the artwork or have the Foundation for Hospital Art choose a facility from its waiting list. www.hospitalart.org

Let's Try This Again

In our March issue, the contact information for Texas Tourism was incorrect. For help planning events in the Lone Star State, visit www.TravelTex.com or contact margo.richards@governor.state.tx.us, (512) 936-0220.