Today as I worked on the welcome brochure and packet for the Italy writing retreat I committed to a fun gift incentive for registrants before April 1. But I'll get to that later. The idea, however, dovetails with an experience of social anxiety I went through this weekend while sketching in a crowd. It was San Francisco's history expo at The Mint building downtown. There were about 20 sketchers perched outside and inside. We sketched the character actors (loved the busty woman on the steps who kept saying "Hello handsome ... " to men walking by), the old bank vault in the basement, detailed art deco lanterns and more. I thought for sure I'd warm up and end up walking out of there having enriched my sketching brain with vital Ca. history stories by experiencing them with full on empathy (a required skill when fast images that are moving are in play). But two hours later, I had a stomach ache and a case of vertigo. I had to get out of there. Luckily the artists followed and we had Vietnamese ice coffee together and shared our work. Mine was the very worst of the bunch. I'm not just saying that. Apparently I am most at ease working solo, not with people over my shoulder taking photos and actors whirling by blowing kisses. It was just all too stimulating for my lil' artist heart.
Now onto why I'm writing about this. For the gift incentive to people who register for Tuscany before April 1 * ( because this makes the planning stage so much easier, having everyone's preferences logged ahead of time) ... I am offering a printed book of their work created in Italy. Fully designed with the intent of offering back a lovely package of their imagination and experience in one place to share with friends and loved ones. But then I thought ... what if they would rather eat barbed wire than to have their work presented in a book. Especially, since they don't know if they will love it yet? Fresh and raw thoughts from my experimental weekend.
Well, I intend to sketch with the SF Sketchers every week or other week until June. I decided the experience is just something that outlines where I am nervous and need to relax. And we humans are competitive by nature. I DO want to be a person who can draw in public and feel good not bad. I know people will relax into it as they settle and what they create will be a surprise (in good ways). It's designed for this and my teaching experience has shown this to be true.
I still think its a good gift. But perhaps I'll give folks the option of just their stories in words - or just their sketches/watercolors or something that I put together for them to mark the memory of our adventure together.
Shyness - ouch! Deep breaths. Try again. Get a hug. Drink a glass of good wine, pet a warm, cozy animal, sing loud into the wind when nobody is looking... tell that story, even if it's a pile of nonsensical words. Especially so!
Please forward this post to a friend or two who you think might love some art, story and Italian cuisine with 7 other participants in Cortona, Italy where the charming story "Under the Tuscan Sun" takes place. And I will be cooking many of her incredible recipes.
Register by April 1 and you will get a juicy book of your own work!