Autism, Art and Me – A Personal Story for Autistic Pride Day

This Sunday – 18 June 2023 – is Autistic Pride Day, a day to celebrate those living with autism. 1 in every 100 people are affected by autism and 7 in 10 people with autism have a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. Approximately £2 million is spent on research each year into Autism in the UK. To mark Autistic Pride Day this weekend, MQ supporter and artist Mark Noble (creator of the above artwork) writes about his experience of autism and how using art as a way to communicate has helped him. To read more about how art and creativity can help your mental health read this article. Over to Mark for his story…


My name is Mark Noble and I’m a professional painter based in Somerset. My heroes are Turner, Constable and Church and I paint landscapes and seascapes in the impressionist and romantic styles. I also create abstract work and have a series of paintings based on the cosmos. Fellow artists have very kindly given me the title ‘Turner of the 21st Century’, but I call myself the ‘Painter of Light’.

From a young age at school, people noticed I had a rare artistic gift, but it wasn’t fully realised until much later in life. As I have autism and severe dyslexia, I use art as a visual medium to communicate my feelings and share the beauty of the natural world with others. I try my best to paint with passion and capture the little details that are often overlooked.

My main motivation is seeing others react positively to my work. People have told me that my art has triggered an emotional response – they may spot something that reminds them of their childhood, for example.

Generally, I find literacy and numeracy to be quite difficult. Some everyday activities like reading bus timetables are a pain, but the positive thing is that I’m a creative and very visual person. I would say I’m observant and sensitive to light and colour – this helps enormously when studying and producing art. {Read about how sensory reactivity and autism are linked in this article from MQ}

My top tip to any aspiring artist would be to believe in yourself and do what you can – easier said than done, I know!

Before I became a professional artist, I had many different jobs and spent 20 years working in a factory. It wasn’t until the early 00s that I decided to do something more creative.

For the most part, I taught myself how to paint. I found it hard to concentrate and learn through traditional teaching methods, but I was able to get qualifications from Strode College which was where my dyslexia was diagnosed. I also received a degree at Bath Spa University. This was only possible thanks to lots of support and understanding from family and friends. Charities like SANE also helped me a lot.

There are so many amazing organisations {including MQ Mental Health} and as I always say, ‘don’t be afraid to ask for help’.

I’ve exhibited all around the UK, several times for charities such as ‘Parkinson’s Art’, and I’ve sold work across the globe. Several years ago, some of my art was displayed at Westminster for a government run exhibition celebrating 40 years of the Disability Rights Act. That was a very proud moment.

In 2021, I became an ambassador for a charity called ‘Outside In’ who help disabled artists. They run training courses, events, workshops and support sessions. We share our art in online meetings too, which is great fun. I’ve been helping them network with other organisations and art establishments, and I promote the amazing work they do. No matter who you are or where you’re from, please check them out.

I am currently focussed on painting on recycled materials such as wood, bark, stone and even old tiles. These pieces are part of what I call the ‘Driftwood Collection’ {to which the above piece belongs}. I want to continue raising awareness of climate change and engage with a wider audience. I would also like to do more to expose discrimination against disabled people, whenever and wherever it occurs.

I believe that art plays an important role in society, especially for the wellbeing of disabled people. I have faced boundaries, sometimes even hostilities, but have been lucky enough to express myself creatively and share my talent with the rest of the world. I want to encourage others to express themselves, no matter the issues they may be facing.

People sometimes overlook important statements made by artists or they look at art but fail to realise the context. It is my belief that we need to talk more about difficult topics and inspire change. There has been a huge push globally for diversity in the art world and I think this is fantastic. I would love to see the same for disabled artists, political artists and artists who are actively trying to source recycled materials or lessen their impact on the environment.

The pandemic focused my mind and made me realise what’s important in life – the world we live in and family and friends. With their help and encouragement, I revamped my studio, did more positive things on social media and showcased my art via online galleries.

Mark’s Top 8 Tips for artists, and anyone in general:

  1. Enjoy – Most importantly, enjoy creating art.
  2. Simplicity – Keep things as simple as possible.
  3. Individuality – Be an individual, listen to others and believe in yourself.
  4. Inspiration – Take ideas and inspiration from other artists. Visit as many galleries as you can. Travel if you are ever able to. Respect your fellow artists. Look beyond a canvas and ask yourself what an artist may have been thinking when they were producing their work.
  5. Networking – Remember, networking is important. I regularly share art across my social media platforms. LinkedIn is great and I have a large following.
  6. Support – Try to get as much support as possible – don’t be shy. Research different charities that might help you. Be inspired, be creative and most importantly, simply do what you can, even if the steps you take are very small.
  7. Technology – Technology can really help. For example, text to speech services, audiobooks and more can make life easier and inspiration more accessible.
  8. Encouragement – Think to yourself: ‘I have a unique perspective and an important message to send.’ Everyone does.


To find out more about Mark and his work, find him on LinkedIn.

To learn more about autism and mental health, click here.

To learn more about research into Autism, click here.

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