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How to Release Your Inner Monet

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Right-brained people have been brainwashed into believing their left-brained fellow sapiens are the creative ones. Just like writers are supposed to be verbal and painters visual and musicians auditory. These are the little corners we paint (or write or sing) ourselves into, for no reason and with little benefit.

I can testify personally. In second grade, I ran eye-first into a playground monkey bar during lunch break. With one eye patched for six weeks, I was forced to stay in the classroom at recess. For a rambunctious kid, this was nearly impossible. But my teacher, in her infinite wisdom, gave me coloring paper and crayons and turned on some classical music, suggesting I draw pictures to the music - whatever came to my impressionable little mind. Apparently my artistic output was so impressive she told my parents I was "a left-brained creative type," a veritable nascent Monet, and that they should nurture that side of my brain. Not surprisingly, I became a writer and a drummer - but not a painter. Go figure, huh? Maybe I associated painting with the trauma of my smashed eye.

Yet, I'm often told I write imagistically (which word, for those who will comment, isn't a word at all). When I write about a guy waving to someone, I often "see" that person waving, even duplicating the motion myself, like a painter who looks in the mirror to sketch a face.

Though that may be true, I nonetheless have avoided canvases, easels, references to acrylics, oils and anything else reminiscent of painting, convinced my creativity resided only in words and music.

So it was with great trepidation that I attended an outdoor art class (plein air, if you want to be fancy and Frenchy about it, is simply when you paint outside) as part of an "art-cation" package offered at the Boca Raton Resort & Club (http://www.bocaresort.com), one of Florida's toniest enclaves.

A concept I had not heard of before, artcations (artistic vacations) will become, I now predict, the hottest niche travel trend, the wanna-be creative person's version of voluntourism or spiritual tourism. Why? Because even people like me - "creative types" - get pigeonholed into stereotypes, and therefore are deprived of opportunities to express themselves in ways that expand their horizons, literally and figuratively. We know this but don't know how to break the mold. We don't give ourselves the time or a safe nonjudgmental space to experiment.

That hotels are picking up on this is fascinating - and logical - to me. Hotels are often pigeonholed themselves: as either havens for business travelers and conferences, or dens of indulgence catering to decadence and pampering, spas and hot sex. In either case, they're always a place apart from one's "real life." What happens in hotels, to adapt the saying, stays in hotels. So where better than a 5-star to explore another side of one's self...or the other side of one's brain?

The Boca Resort's two-night package includes a tour of the art and sculpture collection showcased throughout the property (most of it for sale through the new branch of Boca's Elaine Baker Gallery (http://www.elainebakergallery.com/html/home.asp) in the hotel lobby); plus complimentary tickets to local art and history museums, discounts on tennis court time, spa treatments and a few other freebies. And that painting class.

2010-05-04-brrc_artpackage.jpg

Gallery owners Elaine Baker and daughter Deborah Sponder
with Boaz Vaadia's "The Family" in front of the Boca Resort.

The teacher, Lynn Travis Stender, (http://www.watercolourgreetings.com/workshop.htm), artist-in-residence at the Boca Resort, created such a forgiving environment, the perfect blend of instruction and whatever-you-do-is-right, that I took brush to palette and let my second-grade Monet fly across the canvas - once again.

I amazed myself at what freedom of expression I felt in another medium, as well as how fairly acceptable the resulting painting turned out. And who cares if you agree or not?

There is one problem I am discovering, however. Now that I have gotten back in touch with my inner Monet, my revenue-producing outer Hemingway has up and walked out on me in protest. Writing never was a day at the beach, and now that I can imagine painting at the beach, my will to write is drying up.

Stand by while I take a treatment at the Boca's Spa Palazzo, indulge in the fine coastal cuisine at its 28-floor Cielo Restaurant, and see if I can seduce left and right to find love and harmony in the same brain. That's an image worth framing.

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