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How Being on the Autism Spectrum Impacts My Art

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I was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, a very small and pretty city in eastern Canada. I am a self-taught artist with my own unique painting style, working in acrylics. I was diagnosed at age 36 with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. This character trait and the way my brain functions has had a huge impact on my art and my now well-rounded life.

I picked up a pencil at age 8, drawing Spider-Man from a comic on my bedroom floor. I was very strongly pulled to draw and create. I quickly became engrossed. The human figured fascinated me in terms of learning to draw it. I kept going, it was quite difficult, but I was driven. After many hours of practice, something viable began to happen. My brain started to match up with my hand and this was looking like actual art. There was something of quality happening here. There was no Picasso-quality stuff yet, but something good was going on. I was evolving. I had an ambition for something. My autism certainly played a role in the deep drive I had for being an artist. It was powerful!

I kept on drawing for years, until age 36, and then started painting. Learning the fundamentals of drawing, line, form, the figure, shadow, and scale had enabled me to become a fine art painter. With me, success happening after just falling off a log was not the case at all. It took years of grueling work, focus, the hyper-focus I have because of my autism.

The very first crows painting I posted on social media sold quickly. I kept acquiring collectors from the internet, shows, word of mouth, and so on. It was a beautiful thing to have unfold in my life. I had many struggles since childhood, a broken home, difficulty in school, my autism, and anxiety, so having this success from my ideas and my direction was so rewarding.

I’ve never looked back. My art career continues to grow and flourish. I am self-taught, so the success is perhaps sweeter still for me, personally. I’ve been told by collectors on the spectrum, family and friends of people on the spectrum, and people in general that they are inspired and feel joy from my artwork. This is a deep joy for me and I hold this beautiful treasure close and dear, and never take it for granted.

I feel gratitude to this day for the brain I happened to be born with, the uniqueness of it, and I am thankful that I was strong enough to keep at the art from the very essence of my being. Those on the autism spectrum can achieve so very much from belief in thyself and thy gifts and the unwillingness to throw in the towel.

Learn more about me

My Book: Carl Parker: A Life In Paint: How One Adult With Asperger’s Found His Place in the World Through Art

My Website:

Getty image by What A Win.

Originally published: December 27, 2020
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