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10 Questions with Mark Waller. That's Right. Purveyor of Fine Art and Bad Jokes.

Mark Waller artist - in studio.

G'day interwebber, it's Frankie here again.  2016.  What a year.  This year has been intensely wacky, to say the least.  I want to share with you some of what Mark has experienced this year and how his outlook has been altered; but also give you more of an insight into his thought and painting processes, post brain surgery and melanoma diagnosis.  So here goes.  10 questions with the founder of this site, the indomitable Mark.  

Q:   Do you feel like your ability to paint has been affected by the brain surgery?  If so, how.

A little bit.  I’ve lost a bit of “sensitivity” in my hands or something.  And some of the “information” that used to be in there is not in there - but it is coming back quickly.  And if there are any holes, I’ve found ways around them.  It’s an incredible relief.  There are certain times when I just can’t paint certain parts of a painting - particularly when I’m tired.  And some more complicated subjects are harder to do when I’m tired.  They seem to require a different way of thinking - and I need to be fresh for those.

This image is of the first painting I roughed in (a few days) after brain surgery.  I wasn't sure how much was "missing" - I cried like a baby when I realised I could still do it.  I've left it unfinished as I don't quite know what to do with it.

Mark Waller's first painting after brain surgery was a huge relief to him.

Q:  You have now had 2 near death experiences.  What did you experience?

The short answer?  Many years ago, I needed stitches and a tetanus injection.  I had an anaphylactic reaction to the tetanus shot and my heart stopped. I was clinically dead.  But still conscious, and aware of being conscious.  But not in the room - I went somewhere - I wasn’t aware of being in the room, or anywhere.  I remember whiteness, I remember it being beautiful.  I can remember asking myself “Where am I?” and then thinking, “how can I ask myself this?  I don’t have a body”.  Coming back into my body was a shocking experience - I’d had an adrenalin injection somewhere along the line and there were people pounding me, and I felt really nauseous.  People everywhere, lights - everything.  It was horrible.

The second one was like the first near death experience times a thousand.  It was without a doubt the most incredible thing I’ve experienced in my life - bar nothing.  It was kind of a 3-stage process as well.  Two nights before the brain surgery, I looked at my phone and saw how many people had responded and mobilised on my behalf.  I literally physically felt peoples’ love and concern.  And when I went to sleep, it showed up in this experience.  

The second part of it I think happened during the surgery - the timeline is a bit out - and because I woke up from the surgery quite groggy I really wasn’t conscious.  As I became more and more conscious I became more and more aware that something huge had shifted; and that I had gone “somewhere” while under the anaesthetic.  And the best way I can explain it, is that the “supreme being” grabbed my arm and hurled me through the universe.  It sounds bizarre, but I feel like that was when I got to see how everything got made.  Like, the actual construction of the universe.  I came out of that experience with a knowing of things that I can’t explain, nor can I doubt.  It’s a knowing that I’ve never experienced before.  I feel like I sat in front of “the source”.  It’s so layered and all-pervasive.  

From those days onwards for the next 2-3 days, when I interacted with people more memories came up of that experience, like I was given a platform to interpret this world.  This is all very difficult to articulate.  It completely changed how I relate to other people.  The third part of this experience was some days later - after a surreal night in hospital and during my first shower after the surgery.  It was an experience that kind of put the other two experiences into context.  It was so beautiful.  The most profound experience of my entire life, and I would happily go through brain surgery and cancer again to go through it once more.  

I believe that we’re here on this earth to play, and enjoy this experience of life.  Dance in the rain, roll in the grass, get sand between your toes.  Whatever it is, love every second of it.  And the only thing that we can give away endlessly without diminishing ourselves, that actually grows us as humans, is kindness and love.  Being kind pulls the source closer to us.  That’s our mission, to live as close to the source as we can on this planet.  We’re all connected - we’re all part of this thing.  Really living happens when we wake up to that.  I thought I was so good at living before - I had no clue.  There is something else (after this).  I know that for sure.

Mark Waller's Eye of DoG - a new obsession with painting stars since May 2016.

Q:  You currently seem to have an obsession with painting seagulls - what’s all that about?

It’s so many things.  It’s an obsession and an attraction to whiteness at the moment.  White reflects, and there’s so many subtle hues and nuances in that.  For me that’s where the enjoyment is in painting those birds - painting the physical subtlety and nuance in them is very satisfying. 

It’s also about animals being closer to the source than us.  Our ego keeps us a little distant.  The seagull is truly full of life.  They’re not diminishing their life force by worrying about status or stuff.  And they can fly!  How cool is that!

Mark Waller's seagulls
Another Mark Waller seagull painting emerging.
Mark Waller seagull painting, work in progress.

Q:  Do you think about your cancer diagnosis very much?

Occasionally.  Not really.  Too many seagulls to look at.

Q:  What are your goals for the next 5 years?

Breathe in.  Taste it like a fine wine.  Breath out.  Taste that like a fine wine.  Hang out with my beautiful family and all the people I love.  Swim in the storms.  Catch lots of waves.  Laugh as much as I can.  Enjoy crying occasionally.  That’s it.  Play.

Q:  Do you feel like your thought processes have been altered by the surgery?  How?

(Laughs head off) Yep.  Two ways.  Firstly by the physical surgery itself.  I can feel that some areas of my brain are clunky and a bit slower, although that is coming back and may even return to “normal” one day (whatever the heck that is).  The other thing that I’ve touched on before - I have so much more patience now.  I live in the present (for the most part), and I’m loving the crap out of being alive.

Q:  This year has been quite traumatic for you, your family and your friends.  After living this journey, would you change anything? 

The only thing I’d change is the trauma and stress that the recent events caused to the people I love.  Apart from that not a thing.  Not one thing.  I’d do it (my life) again in a heartbeat.  I’ve done enough dodgy stuff in my life to have had a lot of fun, and a lot of good to make up for that.  Wouldn’t change anything.

Q:  Do you feel like your thinking when approaching a painting has altered since May?

Yeah.  I think about it much less.  I just paint.  It’s become much more intuitive, I’m just with the paint brush, and with the canvas, and with the paint, and with the subject.

Q:  Do you feel like you could conduct workshops again?  Do you have anything planned?

I do.  They would be different.  Because of the brain injury I do get tired - and that is probably the only thing about it that concerns me.  Um, plans.  Speak to the handlers about that - they are constantly assessing me :)

Q:  Tell us something no one knows about you.

I cuddle and sing to my chickens most nights.  And they love it.  I can tell by the wheezing noises they make as they try and escape.  Hehehehe.

Thanks so much to Mark for your candid and revealing interview.  All of us wish you every success in beating this thing and for continued good health and happiness for you and your loved ones into the future.

If you didn't do this already, you can follow Mark on Facebook right here, on Instagram here, and on Twitter here.  Oh!  And please subscribe to his Youtube channel here.

Bonus - Interview with Graeme Stevenson

"Make It A Big Sandwich"

Top of Mark Waller Interview

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Back to Explore Acrylic Painting Home Page

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