It’s been over a year now since I started my Magic Turtle mentorship programme with Art To Heart. I have truly learned a lot in this time from working with different types of people, sprawling across different backgrounds, experiences, ages and abilities. Along the way I’ve also learned a bit from myself too.

The most valuable thing I have learned though is the ability to really see. Seeing is a gift and I’m happy I learned how. I never had any problems with eyesight (besides from recently needing a weak prescription for glasses) but did you know that even people with 20/20 vision can go without seeing regularly?

Seeing for me all started with simple exercises thought to me during the ‘Working With Children and Adults Through Arts’ course. I simply learned how to expand my vision to the infinitely larger scale and then to contract it back down to also to noticing the minuscule. The exercise that stands out to me the most is ‘Imagine You Are a Bee’, where you have to pick a flower and imagine being able to fit right in the middle of it. Your whole perception of the flower then changes and you can focus on what this flower would look like to a bee.

Using paint you then must fill an A3 sized page with this new perception and understanding of the flower. It’s a really fun and interesting exercise. The homework after that class was simple. We had to walk around and notice our surroundings using the expand and contract method.

Whether it was noticing a lone shoe abandoned on a road or the challenge of looking to see the whole ecosystem of a single flower, I started to obsess. Walking anywhere would take me twice as long because there was now so much to see! I’d have to stop to take pictures of trees I previously walked by hundreds of times, buildings I grew up beside. The world was fresh and there was inspiration and beauty everywhere I turned.

This was before I started working with children and adults. Now that I’ve been working for over a year I’ve come to realise that to really see, you need to use all of your senses and not just the ones you’ve learned about in biology class. Senses like empathy and compassion. I’ve learned to see and understand people in new ways. I have the patience to teach but also learn from people. Slowing down and looking at things has replenished my creativity and watching other people feel inspired has been key to enabling me to work on my own art again.

For that I am truly grateful I learned to see.