Mark Neilson was born in Christchurch, NZ in 1974.

The most influential moment in Marks art career was when his Intermediate School art teacher and renowned artist, Clark Esplin took Mark out of his math class to show how he painted using water colours. Clark saw a talent in Marks drawings and this encouragement and support gave Mark the strength to pursue his passion for drawing and art from an early age.


As a self taught artist Mark studied through practical experience and has learned through trial and error. Enjoying the pure rawness of the New Zealand’s early pioneers and their water colours, Mark studied the works of Charles Heaphy, Alfred Sharpe and John Kinder which have influenced his style.

After leaving school Mark worked anywhere he could to be close to the thing’s that inspired him, such as New Zealand’s wildlife, natural places, and history. He found employment at the Christchurch City Council at the Halswell Quarry Park, Orana Wildlife Park and the Department of Conservation to name a few. This has given him a deeper understanding of his subjects.

2006 – The Learning Connexion awarded him a scholarship which allowed him to complete a diploma in Art and Creativity (Honours), expanding his already well established art style.

2007 – He was the first artist to win the Telecom White Pages Art Awards for the West Coast region two consecutive years. Mark held his first solo exhibition at the Left Bank Gallery in Greymouth.

2008 – Exhibited in the Art Center Christchurch at the Art Department. Held a dual exhibition with Holly Lovell-Smith at Gallery O, Art Center, Christchurch. Held a solo exhibition for the local community at the Ross Studio Art Center.

After the birth of his first child in 2008, he became a stay-at-home dad, painting when time permitted, he changed his primary focus to only doing commissioned art works, and started illustrating for information panels and in brochures.

Marks art work is now exhibited on popular walking tracks, cycle ways, and other locations from Ship Creek South Westland, to the Oparara Estuary Karamea on the West Coast.


Mark works primarily in Water Colour, Gouache and occasionally uses Ink and Graphite pencil.


Mark currently works from his studio in Ross, Westland, New Zealand.

First Published Illustration

While working at Orana Wildlife Park Christchurch, Mark was asked to drawing a picture for their newsletter to announce the arrival of the African Wild Dog to the park. He was drawn using graphite pencil on A3 cartridge paper.


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