A PaintFest® Perspective – Teambuilding with Purpose

Dallas 2013

When I walked into the large hall to begin preparing for the PaintFest®, I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. Forty kits and over 500 employees were waiting for us to unpack andprepare countless bottles of paint and brushes. As the tables filled with their six panels and various colors, I looked at the images in front of me and thought about their future. At the time, they were blank canvases providing an opportunity for teambuilding and for community service. But soon, they would be transformed into the bright pictures that would grace the walls of hospitals, providing comfort to the myriad people that would pass them every day.


Experiencing the actual process of a PaintFest rather than simply hearing about one put the words of many employees and volunteers’ into a reality that impressed the importance of the Foundation For Hospital Art on my mind. I surveyed the room full of adults painting; they were all having a good time while creating pieces that are meant to help others. Their work was helping us, we were providing them with teambuilding, and the hospitals receive free artwork—a win-win-win.


As the blank spaces filled with color, and the event began to wind down, it was once again time to prepare the kits for travel. We scrubbed the paint away from the bushes, we replaced the caps on the bottles, and the murals returned to their snug boxes, each one step closer to gracing the walls of hospitals and achieving their purpose. I was so glad that I was finally able to experience this large act of community service. It showed me that when a group of people may gather for something completely unrelated to helping a hospital, they are able to come together to aid their community. I was grateful to be able to witness this act of kindness by various employees, and I look forward to experiencing it all again.


Jessie Blaeser

Reflections on the Impact of Hospital Art


The last suitcase has been put away and the passports are secure until the next journey, but I find it hard to move on.  The memories and images are too strong, too vivid to simply turn the page and carry on.  All of the senses are in play.  The smells will not fade.  The sounds continue to echo in my mind.  The new relationships formed stir the soul.  The smiles on the patient’s faces are indelible.


The Foundation for Hospital Art just returned from a trip to Uruguay and Brazil, where we painted in numerous hospitals, nursing homes, and care facilities.  Our group consisted of 17 people, but once we hit the ground, we grew to an army.  As the local support gained an understanding of our mission, their passion and enthusiasm exploded.


Each PaintFest was a unique experience.  Here is a sampling:


At an open-air street market, we sought to gain awareness by enlisting the public in painting for a nursing home.  The sound of live music and the sight of foreigners drew in the crowd and once the paint started flying, they were delighted to give others hope.


At a local elementary school, we continued to paint for nursing homes.  The unbridled joy and enthusiasm of children is the same all over the world.  We had to form lines and rotate the children because everyone wanted to paint.  There is something joyful about a paintbrush in the hands of a child.  The world’s problems can be solved; all you have to do is give them some paint.


At two different nursing homes, we laughed, loved, and held the hands of the residents.  We took pictures of the bright canvases and shared our gift with the young at heart.  We were there to make sure that on this day and all those going forward that they would never be alone.


At a general hospital in Montevideo, we painted bedside with patients and then at various locations throughout the hospital.  As families and patients waited upon doctors, we brought life and joy to the staff, nurses, and patients.  Everyone joined in the cause to transform the interior of the hospital.


At a treatment center for disabled children, we were awestruck by the love and compassion of the staff.  Quickly our staff began to paint with the children.  We held their hands and guided the brushes, all in an effort to change the world.  In the end, we hung six murals throughout the facility.  Words cannot convey the change.  The response from the staff was overwhelming.


Our last stop was a hospital in Brazil, where we painted with cancer patients.  Weakened by the cancer drug regimen, the patients’ hollow eyes followed us as we began to paint.  Some had the energy to paint, while others had family members step forward.  As each stroke was applied, you could see the smiles begin to grow.  We were giving hope one brushstroke at a time.  We will not cure cancer, but we will encourage and give hope for a brighter day.


I know the memory of our experience will fade over time.  For this is reality, but I hold on to the people we met and the lives that we touched.  Our team was steadfast and full of purpose.  We were true to the mission – art has the power to love and comfort.  Together, we accomplished what we set out to do.  We may be home now, but our hearts are still in South America.


Scott Feight

Bringing the World to a PaintFest


Usually the Foundation for Hospital Art takes PaintFest® events out to the world. In 2012, we painted in South Africa, Korea, Japan, Cuba, and Germany, while sending colorful artwork to 23 countries. However, here in Hoboken, it feels like we’re bringing the world to our PaintFest. We paint every other month at the Hoboken University Medical Center, and our volunteers come from an amazingly diverse background.


The following are some impressions from our newcomers and “veterans” at this month’s PaintFest as well as where they’re from. They describe why they like to volunteer with us and what is special about painting in hospitals.


Jackie – from Scotland

‘”I first saw some of these paintings in the hospital while donating toys for the children one Christmas. When my daughter and I painted for the first time, we felt such joy. It was nice to bring happiness to others and to put a smile on someone else’s face. This past December while bringing toys again, we even saw one of the painting we had done on the wall.”


Daphne – Taiwan

“I like to volunteer in any way I can. I’ve never really painted before, but this is fun. I think the volunteer often gets more out of it than the recipient.  We are fortunate to have good jobs, and it’s time to give back.”


Shehnaz – India

“My neighbors, Junko and Win, invited me to paint in their apartment and then here at the hospital. I find it very therapeutic. It’s a great way to get together with friends and socialize too.”


Jyoti – England

“Although I’m of Indian descent, I’m a London girl, and my parents lived in Kenya. I’ve painted a few times now, and I really enjoy the fact that it’s just a couple of hours on a regular schedule so it’s not a huge commitment. I’m glad I don’t need to be an artist to do this . . . I feel like a kid again! I love that you get instant gratification from it too; you can actually see the results of your work after just a couple of hours. It makes you want to do it all over again next time.”


Ripal – India

“I participate in many 5k runs, and I like supporting my friends and their causes. Shehnaz recruited me for this PaintFest. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was a little worried about my skills…or lack thereof.  However, this really is easy, and it’s like therapy.  It’s nice being with friends, and it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning!”


Nancy – South Korea

“I find this very relaxing.  I have a stressful job so it’s nice to focus on something fun.”


Katherine – Hong Kong

“I actually have a degree in fine arts, but this is so much fun. It’s a great community service activity for kids, and it’s an easy way to teach them lessons of giving back.”


We all come from different places and backgrounds, but we all share one goal: to open our hearts and comfort people in their time of need.

It was funny how similar my conversations with all these different people ended up being. Everyone felt compelled to give back to the community, all were relieved at how easy it was to paint the canvases, and every single person said they felt relaxed . . . it truly is art therapy!


Next time please join us…we welcome you…wherever in the world you are!


Win Trainor

The Ideal Global CSR Project


Corporate Social Responsibility, or “CSR”, is more than a philosophy or popular “feel good” phrase.  It represents all facets of a company’s community outreach and how they impact and touch their consumers and the communities in which they live and work.  From corporate philanthropy and employee volunteerism to the impact of their products and services on the environment and the marketplace, stakeholders of a large company know that a lot rides on how well they serve as corporate citizens.


The challenge for many large, multi-national corporations is finding the right project to engage and unify their employee volunteer base across time zones and cultural traditions.  At the corporate level, the individuals tasked with carrying out the company’s vision and CSR strategy search constantly for a project that involves all ages, demographics, and translates well in any city or continent.


For many years, the Foundation for Hospital Art has been partnering with the largest companies in the world to help execute their CSR strategy.  The beauty of a PaintFest® event is that employees can embrace a volunteer project that benefits the needs of their local community and also achieves corporate goals and objectives.  From birth and throughout life, hospitals, clinics, shelters, nursing homes, schools and healthcare facilities are places that everyone visits during their life.  They are places of healing and suffering.  They are places that we all need to be, for others and for family members.


The PaintFest process is easy.  The kit arrives with pre-drawn and color-coded canvases and all the art supplies.  Volunteers are recruited to paint.  The decision to paint in the office or out in the community is made by the local team.  The team of volunteers has a blast painting, knowing that the product of their efforts will adorn the blank wall of a local healthcare facility.  The team leaves energized and fulfilled; proud to represent their company in the community.


Many companies use PaintFest kits as an engagement project to introduce new employees or acquisitions to the volunteer culture.  The kits are a perfect fit for projects in support of a company-wide month of service.  Painting is scalable and can support diverse employee population sizes at various sites.


So when you are planning your next employee volunteer event, consider organizing a PaintFest event.  Connect all of your employees in a single, unifying volunteer event that is the ultimate CSR project.


Scott Feight

Cuba Today – A Contrast in Colors


Traveling with a small contingent of volunteer artists, we have spent the last week visiting and painting in healthcare facilities in Havana, Cuba.  It is impossible to visit the island without taking notice of the beautiful architecture, lively music, and colorful art galleries.  On the surface, Cuba is a palette of bright colors, but our desire to understand the culture compels us to delve deeper.


Inspired by the writings of Ernest Hemingway, it is easy to see how one could become enamored with the beautiful vistas of the coastline and the daily life in Cuba.  We expected to find a country overflowing with the joys of tropical life.  With visits to his home, his favorite bars in Havana, and the fishing village, Cojimar, (inspiration for the award-winning Old Man and the Sea), we sensed something much different.


Cuba is a place where hope is hard to come by.  You can see it in their faces.  You can sense it in their spirit.  Without a doubt there is love and joy, but it is not in abundant supply.  As in art, a large brushstroke can obscure beautiful details.  In Havana, we sense a certain malaise.  A hope forlorn fueled by the malnourishment of the soul and spirit.


Coming full circle to our mission, our purpose is to brighten the lives of the patients, medical staffs, and families.  Noble, yet simple; we yearn to lift the spirits of the patients and make a lasting difference.  We do it with one hug, one smile, one brushstroke at a time.  As the bright colors are applied to the canvas by one of the patients, you can see a change.  You can see optimism grow.  The pain on their faces fades quickly.  Joy is present.  Color has come to their tropical paradise and it will never be the same.