Child Painter Marla Olmstead

Last night there were a few new comments on some earlier posts about the child painter Marla Olmstead, which made me think that the media must be talking about her somewhere. But I was tired and went to bed without checking if it was anything worth mentioning.

This morning I woke up with what would have been a very interesting story about her, but the funny thing was that it was a dream!. I dreamt that I was watching the news and saw that Marla Olmstead’s parents were arrested on child slavery charges. They were “allegedly” keeping her locked in a room with painting supplies and forcing her to paint.

After waking up and laughing to myself, I turned on the PC to make sure it was just a dream. Thankfully it was only a dream, but I think I will finish what I’m doing before going to bed from now on.

Here’s the previous posts and comments on Marla Olmstead..
Marla Post 1
Marla Post 2
Marla Post 3

Here’s a video of Marla Olmstead working on a painting..

While I was watching the Marla Olmstead video on YouTube, I saw this little cutie doing a Jackson Pollock impersonation. She really seems to enjoy herself.

Marla Olmstead also has her own website here.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Teach College art. Perhaps this is a reason so little want to teach these days!

    Hope the little girl can move beyond this “mishap” on her folks one day. ‘

    If not, somebody is going to make a fortune off her therapy bill. Shame on her parents for not letting her simply be a child!

    An artist, wishing I simply had a child, not a money cow!

  2. It looks like she is having fun with it and some of it is lovely :) I hope she grows and blossoms the way she is supposed to and doesn’t get trapped into a commercialized box borne of other people’s expectations.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Anonymous” I personaly don’t see why she would she end up in therapy, dn’t you people understand that it is no something that they are makinh her do, it’s more like something that she enjoys, and is good at. I really wish Marla the best and hope that she always do what she wants, no matter what the people thik, any way they wont be with you in a couple of years when you will be doing your thing happly!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Let her create NOW! Try staying fresh for forty years…

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just finished watching “My Kid Could Paint That,” as well as reading various new articles and posts about Marla Olmstead. After considering what I have seen and read, I feel that it is virtually impossible for a 4 year-old child to have made those paintings. Abstract painting might be silly, or overrated, or appear as if it were simple to execute, however there are five factors that I believe work against the attribution to a child in this case: 1.) composition; 2.) technique; 3.) use of colors; 4.) shear number of canvases and 5.) inconsistency.

    1.) Composition: with the exception of those paintings actually created on film, there is a sophistication of composition to most of the paintings (for instance “Zane Dancing” or “Lollipop House”) that implies either planning or conceptualization beyond the extemporaneous application of paint (even Pollack planned). Premeditation or conceptualization on this scale is not inconceivable in a four year-old, but highly unlikely given documentary evidence of Marla’s approach to painting.

    2.) Technique: layering and impasto are intentional and apparent in all of the works except those captured on film.

    3.) Colors: a sophisticated consciousness of color relationships (often a key ingredient in quality abstract work) is apparent in a majority of the works whose making was not filmed.

    4.) Number: how does a four year-old create so many sizable canvases in a short period of time, but require a month to create a work of far less complexity? That would be a lot of work for a four year-old to undertake and then not zealously claim ownership of (we she never once does in the film).

    5.) Inconsistency: this essentially captures the factors above, but also raises the question of subject matter, from complete abstraction to elements of representation in the works captured on film, also stylistic discrepancies between the two bodies of work.

    Marla is a sweet and I am sure brilliant kid, but I really can’t believe the paintings are hers, or even necessarily started by her. Filmmakers always have an agenda, and I think Bar-Levi goes to some lengths to admit this in “My Kid Could Paint That.”

    I think it all probably started as a joke between the father and the gallery owner (Brunelli) and then got wildly out of hand, but that is just speculation.

  6. Let’s take a moment and look at 2 factors about 60 Minutes. Why no questions raised about their story? 1. 60 Minutes has made a reputation on “gotcha” journalism and eagerly goes for the sensational as often as they do legitimate investigative journalism. Their worldview is thus highly cynical, which does not advance critical thinking. 2. the program has a history of bashing contemporary art. This hatchet job fits a pattern. And isn’t it interesting that their ONE “expert” who has never met the child did an about-face on her opinion? Frankly, I have seen lots of children’s art that is beautifully composed and expressive–Marla just takes it a step further. One announced goal of some painters is to recover the sense of freedom children often possess in their art. There is no evidence whatsoever that her parents have exploited her or don’t try to provide a loving home and a good childhood. But 60 Minutes certainly exploited this family.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am sorry but I don’t buy any of it. It doesn’t look like a child actually did it, atleast not a toddler AND it is not all that good either. My own kids have painted similiar pieces in pre-school, and no I am not jealous of Marla or her family- far from it! I just can’t believe this crap is getting any attention whatsoever!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just watched My Kid Could Paint. I was absolutely disgusted by both parents, although the father should be jailed. The intensity of the pressure and control that the father puts on this child is obscene. His guilt is palpable throughout the entirety of the film.

    If anyone does not believe that the father is finishing the work, and/or directing Marla, watch the “kitchen scene” and the father’s response when Marla tells him that it’s his turn to paint. It’s disgusting.

    If the mom doesn’t “know,” she is intentionally closing her eyes to the truth. The mom seems to genuinely care about Marla. My advise to her…run, don’t walk, away from this man. The mom offered to take a polygraph. Skip the polygrpah. Take Marla away from your husband for a month or two and see whether and what she paints. I’ll bet that this would tell us all what we already know. You won’t get much more on a canvas than what Marla painted in the backyard while she was being filmed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Marla’s dad should be ashamed of himself. I was pretty much feeling sick to my stomach every time I looked at him. I could tell he is lying! One more word for you Mark, KARMA!!

  10. Slinkyq says:

    I just watched the movie. I don’t believe a 4-year old did those paintings, except the ones they video taped the process, which are very different from the others. My question is: then who did those paintings? Some of them are really good, From composition, color coordination, to layering skills. It will take years college education to achieve the skill. If the father did them, why we don’t see his previous works approaching similar things. I don’t even believe the father can do those. I would more likely to believe the first gallery owner has something to do with them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe people are still buying “Marla’s” paintings. I gues they just don’t care that they’re victims of a prank/scam? As long as the paintings are capable of holding their value? To me this represents all that is disgusting about our consumer culture today.

  12. Anonymous says:

    As an artifact examiner in the auction and art industry, there are a few pieces of evidence which are damning beyond a doubt.

    1) The size of the canvases would preclude many of the gestrual strokes found in many of her works. She simply isn’t physically tall enough to make them.

    2) Lack of intentionality, this was touched on before.

    3) Video evidence of her father coaching her.

    4) Three paintings caught on camera which bear no compositional consistency with her other “works.” Her use of negative space, color composition, and layering are simply not present in these works.

    5) Her own admission that “I didn’t do the green one.”

    6) Her asking the father to paint a face, to help her, to finish it, ect.

    7) Total lack of exceptance by the established art community. She has never been accepted, featured, or validated by “the academy.”

    8) Admission by the gallery agent that he wanted to “turn the art community on its ear.” He also stated that he thought that any child could do the works.

    8) Finally, and most importantly, she has never demonstrated classical technique, mastery of representational and figurative work, or any OBJECTIVE gradiant of technical genius. EVERY abstract impressionist of note, Kandinsky, Pollack, ect. was a master of realistic representational technique before venturing into abstract works. This is what gives it is semiotic “value.” It is a rejection. This is the main reason why she is not taken seriously by “real” art critics. An analogy is a “prodigy” piano player who cannot play a scale or chord, but excells at baning on the keys.

  13. Ive got to wonder, what difference does it make who created it? Some of those works are stunning to me. Am I getting the message she was trying to convey? Was she trying to convey a message? Did she even paint them? I dont care. I think they are beautiful and SOMEONE painted them. That is reason enough for me to buy one.

    Her stuff is so random, and any reference to an inspiration or style is purely accidental, but I like some of them. Dont many photographers take pictures of random occurances and make them into art?

    I think that at the very least, this is just a collaborative effort between father and daughter. If people like it, who cares whether or not its true, classical art (its not, actually)?

  14. Anonymous says:

    In this case it DOES matter who painted the paintings as the father is cashing in on the fact that a child painted them.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Wow! So much negativity. For most of you – no matter what is said or done you’d find a way in your small minds to find fault with it. As she grows you’re going to be left with egg on your face when she explains that she did the paintings – or maybe then you will say that she was just brainwashed into believing she did them.

    What a beautiful family. Most of you probably don’t know what that experience is – or maybe you’re just jealus that the child isn’t yours. Get a life.

  16. If it is expressing her feelings that is the important part. If it is a family project they should say so. What is more beautiful than parent and child joint expression and if people get joy out of owning a piece of that, then good for all of them. My daughter also has advanced whimsicle art for her age. I think it could sell but I can’t imagine parting with it – way too valuable to me!

  17. Anonymous says:

    There is no beauty in a family IF parents exploit there kids so darkly. IF this is a hoax, other people are being exploited as well even if they seem to not mind. Why is the truth so elusive in this case? Because it just still needs ample documentation. Marla videotaped every second doing many paintings in different styles.

  18. It always amazes me how people can see and hear the same thing as me and not just take away something different but actually see and hear something else. In many cases I suppose we see and hear what we want to. To the “artifact examiner” who posted below…you should watch the film again. I plan to. I did not hear the gallery owner say that anyone could have painted Marla’s works. I am quite sure he did not say that at all. On the contrary. His statement was about modern art. Not about Marla’s work. Listen more carefully. As to the person who wants more evidence…my god! I think let people buy it who want to buy it but please lets not ask for more filming and more documentation. Time will tell I say…personally I am quite happy to leave the story here and check Marla out in 10 years. I loved some of the work. I agree her father seemed a bit odd and pushy. So what. Most people are a bit odd. Stop judging.

  19. As an artist I was fascinated watching as four-year-old Marla worked her canvases. My first and lasting impression was that she exhibited many characteristics common in artists in whose company I have painted and whose working styles I have observed. While I have encountered the uncommon brilliance of four-year-olds before, I have never seen one who worked with such instinctual method. For me the only mystery is why some artists see and paint abstractly while others do not . . . not whether Marla was capable, did in fact paint the giant canvases, or has any gift beyond that of any other four-year-old.

    My heart sank to new depths when the 60 minutes piece in the film was done wreaking its unilateral havoc on this film-maker’s story. For Winner to go from proclamations of artistic brilliance to complete and utter denial that Marla had anything resembling giftedness wreaked of the over-analysis of psychology on those things in this world that are not easily explained by or reproduced in scientific studies. I might suggest that art, artistic vision, creation, and certainly the possession by the artist of a gift that others do not have, is not something that necessarily should have to endure the test of scientific study and analysis. Every artist, living or dead, has a stake in their work not being particularly explainable by any theories or tests.

    Lacking in this discussion about Marla Olmstead’s art is any mention of the artistic process and its occasional break-down. Visit any artist community, online or otherwise, and you will find a discussion of what to do with one’s less inspired pieces, and what to do when the pressure or expectation to paint actually interferes with the creative process. Marla’s green mud, captured on film and used to discount her other works, was as natural an occurrence as the bland track the appears on nearly every music artist’s album, or the unpublished novel, or the bad season in the sports arena. However, in “My Kid Could Paint That” we are given the impression that legitimate artists simply never create mud, less inspiring works, or get “stuck.” And I object, your honor, at the implication that one child psychologist knows all about what was occurring in that segment of video.

    My impulse, immediately after sealing the NetFlix envelope to mail the DVD back after watching it was to contact the Olmsteads. In my e-mail I introduced myself as fellow artist and new admirer of the little girl artist who works with grown-up method. I offered encouragement that some of us can recognize another artist when we meet them or see them work, and that I was perfectly comfortable with everything I saw Marla do in the film. I acknowledged to them that I have been inspired by Marla to allow the kid in me to come out and play with paint again . . . as I find I feel incapable of the abstract that is so natural to her. I just received a reply back, thanking me for the refreshing contact . . . and stating that I “get it.” And I do. Part of my mission as artist is to encourage, and sometimes even challenge, other artists. Marla has plenty of challenge, but the e-mail I got back indicated encouragement is a little slower in coming . . .

    I knew I got it when my artist’s heart accepted Marla’s gift, and her limitations at first sight. I found myself whispering under my breath throughout the film “look at how she works . . . she works like an artist works!” Normal, ordinary four-year-olds don’t ponder where to place the brush like that! They don’t repeat colors, motifs, and designs like that! Neither do they persist to the point of covering an expanse of canvas so completely . . . or spend so much time learning about color mixing. A normal four-year-old with a camera rolling would be delighted to show off by painting something pretty. The artist in Marla, maybe even not fully understood by her at that time, would have no part in it!

    So, I imagine it is apparent I have required no convincing. What I might need someone to explain to me is why any adult with multiple degrees and the position Winner has achieved would feel it necessary to declare Marla’s work questionable. I might label her an enigma, but Marla is an artist.

    And if for some reason she stops painting as she matures, I am not concerned. I just returned to my easel after a three-decade absence.


  20. enjoyalife says:

    good on you debra for giving a real artist comment, being a fellow artist you took the words from my own mind. watching marla was an incredible experience that i am truly grateful for coming across. she’s definitely inspired me and i hope people just appreciate the beautiful art instead of the negative media and people.I believe in marla.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Artist opinions or not this child is NOT doing the work. Her father should be locked up! Get your head out of the clouds. Why was the director of the film never able to see her paint other than mud or a happy little sunshine painting much like a 4 year would paint. She is not painting alone. Her father is a sociopath. He lies and talks over her when Marla tries to tell her dad that her younger brother painted on one of her paintings. I feel bad for the children of this family with a father who feels the need to be a star that he has manipulated his own daughter to lie. shame on anyone who thinks otherwise.

  22. Put a camera on any one of us for a length of time, and it can be edited to make us look like a monster. Remember, it doesn’t take a creative mind to criticize.

  23. I am not an art critic far from it. After viewing this documentary my opinions are just that.
    What I observed early in the program was the father pushing Marla to paint.. he asked “do you want to paint? I will set it up for you” Marla said “no”. The father said “I will set it all up and if you want to paint go ahead if not then don’t”. To me that is like setting a pile of cookies on the counter and telling your kid don’t eat those then walking away.
    Do any of you remember being a child with a water color set? I’m sure Marla likes to “play” with the paint so naturally she is going to “play” in it. I also think that she doesn’t have an understanding of what art is nor a concept or impressionistic view of any objects to create these abstract views. Usually child art as I call it is stick people and green grass and the sun in the upper right.
    This story is simply about greed someone seen a painting of Marla’s daddy doctored or not and said humm we could market this as a child prodigy and ride the wave of cash that will come in.
    My next observation is even more disturbing.. what about there son? From the statements made in the documentary seems like he is just simply there he is insignificant. I hope the parents enjoy the wealth they have accumulated from robbing their child of a childhood. It will be interesting to see if Marla stays with the art when she is old enough to realize what’s up with mom and dad as well as the other adult influences in the art community for pushing this child.

  24. Anyone remember a few years back at the Mr. Olympia? There was a child there I forget his name he was Romanian … he was 7 years old and had the physic of a professional bodybuilder. This child was bench pressing something like 210 lbs at 7 years old. Footage in the documentary reveled his workout routine and his father pushing this kid, he had no friends, wasn’t allowed to play with toys ate a special diet. Anyway my point is how far parents will go to acquire fame or wealth by pushing their children. What is that 7 year old kid from the Mr. Olympia doing now I wonder? Hopefully just being a kid because they put the father in jail for what he did to him.

  25. Just want to say I liked some of the pieces. Still on the fence about a 4 year old doing all of them without help. The parents are riding the cash flow out on this one. Their son is just there no interest in him it seems, are the parents encouraging him to do anything.. From what I seen in the film I’d have to say prolly not poor little guy. I feel no pity on someone who has the cash to blow on these paintings 5, 10, 15 grand per and up give me a break.

  26. I just finished watching “My Kid Could Paint That” and I can understand why the movie documentation may not support the claims made by the parents. The anonymous comment listing the “five factors” is just one example. I think it is natural to be skeptical when exposed to something new, but asking the right questions and getting reasonable answers is also part of the process. From all the comments and opinions listed on this blog it is understandable that reasonable answers are still lacking, leaving the end result to the individual and their belief in this artwork.

    I have not read all the comments, but considering the volume on the internet related to this subject and the human interest evoked by the artist and her paintings, I see a real desire to authenticate this art if we wish to resolve the issues. Of course this is not necessary to enjoy the art, but that is not what all the comments are about, they are about the truth. There are many values we can place on an object, but in the art world validation of the artist has always been critical to a works commercial value. The other value to substantiating this art would be the vindication of the artist’s family.

    Signatures and style have been a common form of authenticating art. In this case the artist’s style is “in development” and a signature will not be forthcoming for a while. If we are serious about validating this young girl’s art, then just record every brush stroke, using a time coded tape that can be confirmed to be free of editing by an independent agency, and do it for every image she creates. Once the major variations of her work are captured there should be much less doubt and rhetoric concerning the above issues. This also helps to support the commercial value of her work, supporting the future of this form of creativity for prospective young artists, whose work we can only imagine being created by a more mature individual. The human mind is sometimes beyond our abilities to comprehend and all we can do is to keep asking good questions and finding the answers.

  27. After reading all the posts .. my eyes hurt. I conclude that common sence isn’t so common.
    I’m sure Marla likes to play in the paint what child wouldn’t. Seems that the parents are riding the wave of cash right to the bank on this one. There are many views .. about this documentary .. is it the “art”? , is it the “fame”? .. is it the “parents”? .. so many topics .. seems if it was about the “art” or Marla being a young artist .. why is the focus on her pumping out paintings to meet the demand for her work.. seems like 4 year old burn out and the parents, and art dealers want her to pump out the
    “art” so the cash bus dosn’t stop. I seriously doubt that Marla looked at an object and started to paint in an abstract manner .. seems she just plops the colors down and brushes them around if someone likes it and wants to pay 20 grand and up for it so be it.
    It’s simply about the cash because they arent givin them away .. most parents would put it on the fridge.

  28. I too just finished watching “My Kid Could Paint That”. As an art teacher of young children I can tell you that what I witnessed Marla doing on camera is very typical of a child that age. I could see marked differences in what was done on camera and paintings done off camera.
    I can only come to one conclusion….she had a helping hand.

  29. Why would this child need therapy? There’s nothing more cathartic than being immersed in the ‘zone’ of painting.
    To anyone who doubts this child’s talent, I encourage you to look at her painting titled ‘Sunflower’.
    I’m astonished by it.

  30. I keep reading the comments that call for verification that Marla holds the brush and applies the paint on her canvases . . . a testing of her credibility by application of the scientific principle of repeatable results. As an artist I object to the idea that art may be rendered valid by the application of a such a test, which means every artist whose talent may come into question might some day be required to “perform” on camera to prove their own work! Art and artistic talent or inclination is not something that should be required to meet this, or any other, scientific standard.

    I would like some of these teachers and others who declare that what Marla does with her paints and her 60″ square canvases is not different than what any other 4 year olds do. Post some images. Even the best scribblings I have seen from 4 years olds do not fill 360 square inch canvases, much less balance colors and repeat motifs . . .

  31. This whole situation is just so perfectly American, and human. I agree with the artist who said let’s wait and see…… what I think many of us forget is how excited and proud we are when our own children show potential. We want them to realize it. We encourage them, sometimes prod them, often make them go to that paint canvas, ballet class, or chinese lesson when they tell us they don’t feel like doing it that day. Are we abusive? Are we living our unfulfilled dreams through them? Well, only that child can answer that, and usually not until they are an adult. Everyone of us is aware of ourselves on camera, not much is natural. Children, particularly sensitive ones, innately know when people have expectations of them, and they often clam up about their talents. I’ve seen it. Maybe Marla’s dad is not oozing guilt over having done her work for her. Maybe he is feeling some guilt for pushing her, putting her out there, possibly (by giving her exposure) stifling a gift she truly has and he is unbelievably proud of. Totally human. Totally understandable.

  32. i wont be name is josie day from NSW Austraila. i just watched your documentary and am saddened by the fact that people beleive your little girl didnt do these paintings all on her own… people can be so cruel when they see some one like your daughter doing what she does and wish that their child could do it and they cant. jelousey is a very sad emotion but the parents of those other children should be happy they have good happy healthy children and just because they dont possess a hidden talent like your daughters doesnt mean they are dumb… god has chosen all of our paths and we have to find them all on our own. sure parents , teachers etc will intervein which is a good thing because sometimes we dont see potential in our selves as we are too proud and maybe a bit shy to notice we have talent… or to want to share it with the world worried about what the critics might say and hurt our egos. but sooner or later we find our nitch in this world and run with it… you darlin dad have a talent to see a picture and a small picture at that and take it and blow it up to a big have a gift that i wish i had as i see a lot and only wish i could put it to canvas but i just dont have the knack… you use both sides of your brain which is a rare thing and is a must in the art world. your daughter on the other hand sees the world differently as she has the photos of what she sees in her head and puts them to canvas the way she sees it… its two different worlds you and your daughter live in as she is a child mind and yours is an adult mind.
    my daughter has been gifted enough to recieve the best of both worlds you and your daughter live in seperetly. she possess a world un like your daughters where she can see things in her head and put them to canvas or on paper in pencle or paint. but at the same time she can also take a picture from almost anything and blow it up on canvas or paper even life size like you did on the documantary… she hasnt chosen her path as yet but is very interested in grafic arts and design but is also a creative writer, and a marvelous reader of shakespeare etc. she was also looking into a teaching degree in english. and loves to do coryagraph (dances,cheerleading etc..) she is a very artisic child and i am amaized with what she comes up with in drawing,paint and writing…
    continue to teach your child all you can with out pushing her. allow her to dabble in other creative avenews and see where the roade takes her. remember she is a child and a young one at that and being she is a girl she will change her mind about what she wants to do over and over in the course of her life time. all you need to do as her parent is support her in what ever she wants to do.. DONT choose her path for her or she will resent you….
    love her, charrish her and dont forget you have a son as well. try to divy up the attention between both your kids evenly or one will be jelous of the other and you will have a war on your hands when they become teenagers…. and they rebell .
    if you want to email me do so at

    josie day
    ps: my daughter is 20 years old now as of sept 10th 08…
    sent to a blog RE: Marla Olmstead

  33. Why would this child need therapy? So far she wouldn’t because everyone has done a good job of keeping her out of this charade. The documentary director could have asked her point blank about what was hers but he knows it is the parents orchestrating this whole thing and it would be messed up to drag Marla into it. So she doesn’t need therapy but the parents are putting her in serious danger by dragging this thing out after they have been busted at least twice now.
    As for Tanya’s comment above, I think you are right that the gallery owner didn’t say anyone can paint this. I do understand why the other blogger thought that though because I think he said something along the lines of ‘anyone can create modern art’…or at least he implied it. Being a realist painter he seems to be disgusted by people who do abstract work. Marla seems to be his way to get back at them. How low to use a child like this. And the father – you don’t need any special editing to make him look like the ass he is – he exudes it in every shot. Not sure what is up with the mom but I think she has to know..her breakdown at the end seems to come from the fact that the documentary director doesn’t believe her and they have been busted again.

  34. I just want to say that I believe there must be people from the Marla camp filling this blog with positive comments. I cannot believe that there would be this much debate on the subject. After watching ‘My Kid Could Paint That’ it is totally obvious that Marla did not paint these paintings.

  35. When something wonderful happens, why do people do there best to bring it down? Marla is a little girl playing with paint and inventing her own world through her brush and canvas. I do not doubt that Marla is the visionary behind the work. The different style paintings simply reflect experimentation. One cannot pigeonhole her into one style. She is so young and exploring and evolving. One could not expect Marla to grow and her art to stay the same.

    I am sorry for the way the Olmsted family was portrayed in the 60 Mins footage as well as in the documentary. Those documentations released 2 hours of the Olmsteds life and no one could possibly get a true sense of the family dynamic. The verbal abuse that this family has been bombarded with is without merit. Language is so powerful and the words that people say in their blogs and emails are more shameful than any implication the media has supplied.

    As for the doubt surrounding Marla’s father’s influence I am trying to understand. She has to learn from someone and its obvious that he would teach her different things about painting. Like brush technique, using a spatula, color mixing…But a teacher can only teach a student who is eager to learn. Being an art student when I was younger and through out college I would often ask for another opinion while my work was in progress. So I do not find it alarming that Marla would ask her teacher as well. We all get stuck and a fresh pair of eyes can do wonders. She is so young and should not be expected to be an artist all alone in a room with no one to help her along.

    I obviously cannot say this for sure but it seems that Marla may have had limits set for her. Like for instance she may have been limited to certain colors as in Zane Dancing or only using the squirt bottle like in Ode to Pollack. What is the harm in a father teaching his daughter, making suggestions and offering ideas. I find there to be no shame in that. So what if she wants him to paint something on her canvas. She wants to be doing something with her father. I’m sure he is not the designer of this Marla World and a little spot of paint is not going to make a difference. Marla is the difference. Extraordinarily ordinary just as any other little girl playing with daddy’s paints. Give Marla her credit.

    God Bless the Olmsted’s for being so strong in the face of this negative backlash. I know that this will only give you strength and endurance to guide and encourange your children in whatever outlet they choose.

    Best Wishes

  36. I do not understand why the father is always in the video when she is painting. Where is her mother when she paints? The father seems to be the attaction for the video. The video is not start to finish, there are too many take outs. I have notice in the video after the cut outs the tubes of paint are put in order, standing up etc. When she paints and put the tubes down it is not in a orderly fashion. That is always after the take outs. I believe that is it polish by the father, when you watch her paint then see it later it is polish, if you notice the lines and circles are done over in a smooth manner.

  37. man people are really posted some dumb ass comments. you can tell that there are a lot of people with low reading comprehension. that can’t even understand the point.
    by saying, “who cares who painted it, if you oike then buy it.” is like buying a baseball with bae ruths signature on it for $1000 and saying who cares who signed it, if you like it then buy it.
    don’t you understand that the value of the paintings are in direct correlation to who supposedly painted it. and the wacky parents are claiming that their 4 year old daughter painted them BY HERSELF WITH NO HELP. they should be held accountable for misrepresentation. the child obviously did not do them by herself. if she did any of them in anyway, she was coached and or helped by her father.
    if you notice in the posts, most of the people that believe she painted them alone are the same people that believe in the biggest scam in the world, religion. i stopped believing in make believe crap in first grade.
    the best is when people pray to god that their favorite sports team will win. like there is some magic guy in the sky that will give a win to the fans that pray the hardest. and while i’m pointing out the stupidity of religion here is an observation. why was the last pope john so crippled and immobolizzed by such poor health at a pretty young age? you would think that gods right hanbd man would at least be able to wipe his own ass. with all the prayin he did and all his “followers” you would think he would be ready to run the boston marathon.
    anyway, that cute little girl has been exploited by her parents for financial gain. she did not produce those paintings herself.
    well, go at it with all my gramatical errors and my misspellings because that’s the only negative thing you have to point out about my observations. have fun, i did.

  38. I am currently watching the movie “My Child Could Paint That” and I must comment.

    It is the Father that is painting these pictures and if not him I believe it is the art gallery owner who is helping.

    This is a 4 year old child that if you watch the painting she does in the backyard it is some colour, a white sun and a few other colours – this is typical of a 4 year old. The paintings that they show on 60 minutes when the camera was not on Marla are definetly not hers. These are doctored and/or done by someone else. The difference is like night and day!!!
    And Marla even tries to tell her Dad that on one of the paintings her brother Zane did it!!

    These parents should be ashamed of themselves, especially the father, for what they are doing to this child. He pushes her, as seen and heard on the movie, like no child should be pushed to paint.

    When the art gallery owner states that sales of the paintings are down, you see Marla outside using chalk on the sidewalk. She is drawing heads and suns like most children would. If she is such a gifted artist, then anything, anytime she painted/drew – it would all be spectacular.

    Give it up Dad – you have been found out.

  39. Another comment as I watch the movie more.

    A couple just went to the gallery to “buy” a painting done by Marla.

    The owner tries to push to painting “Ocean” on the couple and the lady states outright, on camera, that the painting does not look like the other ones done by her – she says it appears to be done by different artists.


  40. I’m no blogger. Usually not one to comment, but on this I will. All you people do is talk and write and gossip about how other people screw up all the time. Ever think of how you would handle this situation if you were her parents? Ever think about what you would do with cameras in your face all the time… do you actually think this mother liked that? I wouldn’t. You wouldn’t. We’ve all made mistakes. This was one decision the parents had to make: should we stop now or keep going? In the future, what would have Marla wanted us to do? So maybe they didn’t go with their instincts… who hasn’t. Why doesn’t everyone just shut their mouths and keep their freaking opinions to themselves for a change and give this family a break. I’m sure they would like one. You know, you can talk about issues and blog all you want all day at the computer in your pj’s but you don’t always have to be so dang negative. Seriously though, im sure you can find something far more productive than sitting at your computer complaining all day long to people who are doing the exact same thing. No one cares and if they do its only for a minute or two. Its not like the parents are reading any of this, its not like your going to get your point across to them. You type it out and it goes POOF! into the matrix, the internet cyber space whatever. Someone might answer or a few will comment….. You wanna debate about something? Debate about something that’s gonna really matter in the long run. Blog about what you believe in. Debate about what really matters. What’s that? Where your gonna spend eternity. This might seem a little off topic for you out there but, the biggest scam Satin has ever pulled on people is convincing them that hell does not exist. Also, why the crap would anyone in their right mind make a up a belief that puts themselves last. Heck if i made a religion, i would make it so i’d get all the money n’ have a care free life wouldn’t you? The Bible is totally backwards: Give before you receive, turn the other cheek, money means nothing…. it goes on. Other worldly religions are all self-gain, money, women, blah blah blah. I’m just putting this out there; take what you can from this blog. I mean, you doing nothing but sitting at a computer, what have you got to lose? Eternity in Heaven.

  41. I dont see the religion connection “visitor.” I guess people see what they want.. or push their agenda, regardless of the conversation.

    Also, the comment function is on blogs to allow people to share their opinion, just as you have just done, so people don’t have to “shut their mouths and keep their freaking opinions to themselves” as this is where opinions are shared.

    You may not agree with other peoples opinions and they may not agree with your opinions.

    I don’t agree with your opinions, but I still feel that you have a right to express them. Just stick to the topic or comments will be deleted.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I just saw the documentary and here is what’s on my mind. Marla genuinely enjoys painting and she was not at all negatively affected by the publicity. She wasn’t paying attention to the cameras, she was just playing with her brother and being a kid. In ten years she wouldn’t have to worry about paying for college, a luxury few of us have. It is absolutely absurd to say that the parents are somehow hurting Marla. Wow. Somebody actually said that the father should be jailed. What kind of horrible person suggests leaving a child without a father over a suspected art fraud (nothing has been proven). I really don’t think the father made those paintings. There is absolutely no proof. The DVD proves that she is actually capable of making paintings that are considered “good”. He might have given her some advice on some of the paintings but that’s about it.
    The whole situation also proves that modern art is all about the story and has very little to do with the actual art. After the 60 minutes piece came out, collectors stopped buying her paintings even though the art was of exactly the same quality the only thing that changes is a story behind it.

  43. At the end of the blog I left my IMDB comment on the film.

    I think Marla did the Paintings. Even if she didn’t, some of them are awsome, they make me feel great, which is what Art is partly about. (create emotion, or an idea, or preferably both. quite a few of these paintings explode with joy. How many artist can claim that. And if the dad is painting it, which he isn’t, then it’s a different subject alltogether isn’t it, the art is still not in question. And its the art that matters most.

    People, get a life. Paint something. Stop spreading the hate. It’s all too easy as most of the posts do so. Your opinions are allmost all identical, which should tell you something. No, your not right. Herd mentality is 99 times out of a hundred wrong. Sorry. The paintings are real, and the’re great.

    Poor Marla! This American circus pops up once in a while in a culture or in a culture with a lack of culture and runs its apoplectic course until it tumbles off the side of a cliff and finally blows up. Money, Money, Money! Take money out of art and what do you have? Art. How many of us see art in our daily lives on a regular basis? A bare sincere smile devoid of any irony, clouds flying by addressed to the Norht Pole? How many thousands was that woman willing to pay to relive a childhood feeling! Art is necessary but we can’t believe that a child can do it because the show must go on. Keep the media circus going. Destroy a soul. America has been more than willing to pay that price easily for nearly a century without even a hint of a desire for self-reflection much less regulation. Remember those hate letters! What a sad century when the Dow Jones is the barometer for the national self-worth.

    The American media is a Juggernaut so we know we have to be careful. These unsuspecting parents were not. First identify it, then if you can’t control it and it doesn’t serve your immediate ends, kill it. Good job 60 minutes! I’ll be sure to tune in next week!

  44. Most comments are looking for truth or expressing an honest opinion, not spreading hate.

    How is it herd mentality when one sees a horse and calls it a horse? To state the obvious is hardly following the herd.

    Either way, I personally don’t care if Marla painted them or didnt paint them as I have no money invested in her work. But if I was one of the people that were suckered into spending thousands on a painting, I would want it to have been painted by a child prodigiy! Anything less would be fraud.

    Youre right that art shouldnt be about the money, but paintings by a “child prodigy” are valued MUCH more highly than an unknown middle aged man. So if the latter is selling as the former, it’s not right.

  45. Anonymous says:

    I have been working with young children for 18 years, as a child development specialist. My husband and I are both artists. I have observed that many children follow the typical developmental patterns when using art and writing materials. It’s a process that develops “by the book” in measurable stages….usually.

    But on occasion there is a child who seems to understand color, balance and line in a more mature way. It must be innate because I don’t teach them art in a formal way. I provide the materials and let them go to town however they wish.

    I believe these children can produce wonderful work because they have a talent AND they are unfettered by adult convention. My own son made some wonderful creations when he was 3, 4 and 5. Many times he would take some paint out on the patio and create while we were off doing other things and then come inside with something beautiful. But when he started comparing himself to others he became critical of his ability and stopped considering himself an artist.

    My point, I have seen children produce wonderful work and I believe it can be done if the children are given materials and allowed to explore. I have no doubt she produced the work.

    One thing in the parent’s favor, they haven’t changed their lifestyle. They still live in the same small house, continue to work their jobs and remain horrified at what’s happened to them. I haven’t seen them in any reality series’ (Dina Lohan) or writing books on how to raise wunderkind (Lynne Spears) or blaming their children for not taking care of them (Jane Carter) and so on. Far from the typical stage parent’s, they seem bemused by it all.


  46. at least she fills the canvas. Art is so subjective. It’s worth what you can get. That’s all. To me it looks like a scam. The dad is always explaining her comments jokingly. In the hall she keep saying she didn’t paint something and he is rambling on about something totally different to her like she is talking in tounges. And in the kitchen scene that shot on the floor looks like a kid did it. And he’s pulling a daffy duck ugh ugh ha ha ha ugh. Whatever if people want it then buy it. Thats America. I have a house full of art that is personal and dear to me that my mother did and it’s not for sale. I couldnt exploit my kid like that. They should keep it all and loan it out for money or charity.

  47. Anonymous says:

    my son, at age 5 with no prompting, drew this great picture of a guy standing in flames, with an American flag behind him. His hand was over his heart, and he had a thought bubble coming out stating “Oh crap”. My son had no real idea why he did it, he just did, But luckily, I grabbed it, and it is mine forever. It rules. It is art. I saw the documentary, and there is no question that Marla also creates art. But I have studied lots of impressionists, and so has whoever touched up some of her early work. It is painfully obvious that these works are simply not hers – she doesn’t have that kind of discipline. Impressionism blends chaos and order…as does a 4 year old. But the discipline needed to create a cohesive piece of work is lost on most 4 year olds, Marla included. I don’t disagree that she is a talented kid. But her paintings should not be in anyone’s collections – unless they are celebrating how naive and easily led the masses truly are. Jump aboard, you modern art lemmings – you thought Warhol was a genius too. At least his art was honest – shitty, but honest.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I just saw the documentary on Marla. It was fascinating. In the end, I suspect, like many others I’ve read on this site and others, that Marla paints her paintings with some help from either Dad or the art gallery owner. I suspect it started out innocently enough: Dad was a painter and wanted his daughter to be a painter. Marla started painting, and Dad helped her out a bit here and there. Then the art gallery owner “discovered” her and began to aggressively market her paintings. (Maybe he did more than market her paintings.) I suspect that mom knows that Dad is helping, but just can’t admit to it consciously, because of what it would mean for her family. I’m sure things just snowballed and before they knew it, they were in newspapers and on tv shows around the world, for all intents and purposes committing fraud. I suspect they may have even convinced themselves that what they’re doing isn’t really wrong or even all that bad. And of course, having huge amounts of money as the incentive to continue the fraud, and the potential to make greater and greater amounts of it, is probably just too difficult to say no to. I think the mother said it all in the documentary after the 60 minutes piece aired when she said words to the effect that she was just so relieved that it was over. Her words sounded an awful lot to me like an admission of guilt, like the words of someone who had been caught lying, and was so relieved to have the secret out. Of course, most important in all of this is the health and well-being of Marla and Zane. I hope she and Zane will somehow be able to move beyond it all and lead happy, productive lives.

  49. Anonymous says:

    From an artist’s standpoint, I encourage her creative pursuits. While I do not agree with some of the more vitriolic statements here, I would like to mention she is in an environment that any child has equal possibility of creating a good artwork. Making a large-scale canvas is part of the process, a job in itself, and to have it all all laid out for you, and encouraged to paint and being connected to the art world is automatically going to foster interesting works, and it’s also possible that some of the colors on her pallette are premixed for her. It’s like having a personal editor to lay out a list of sentences, say “fill this blog space” then revise and publish your blog, an option not everyone has. I have seen amazing children’s works in Asia that just don’t happen to be in the spotlight. I also wonder if art should be defined by intent or aesthetics because I’m almost sure that most of children painting abstractly don’t intend the significance that adults with an art background can identify. I hope that the adults’ aesthetics don’t affect her personal style and artistic identity. I’d prefer a big smiley face to an “abstract prodigy” if the former is a natural expression.

  50. Anonymous says:

    I loved the documentary. Not on an art level; more from a psychology standpoint. If anyone reading this post has not read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell you should as it may shed some light on your feelings about Marla’s art. It’s up to you to decide. Regardless, I liked the paintings.

  51. I am an artist myself and realize that people perceive “what they want to perceive and listen to what they want to hear.” I am delighted that this little person loves to participate in the creative process. It’s delightful and charming. I wonder what Marla will remember about her paintings and what she will be able to share with the rest of us when she has a youthful perspective.
    If she has made some money, then bravo! Her art certainly makes all of us ponder its value….albeit, its value according to adult biases. Never stop, Marla! The world out there revels in criticism and analysis! I know you are speaking about your special art language….and art is a very personal language!

  52. Have you ever been in the company of a child you know and the child knows you and is familiar with you, one that you know to be very talkative and outgoing and friendly indoors or amongst friends but once that child is introduced to someone new the child becomes very shy and shows none of his or hers usual characteristics? I have. My guess along with observation of her reactions towards “strangers” in the movie is that this girl has a gift for perceiving worldly, mature things including aesthetic beauty and when given a medium to express this she did, and very well. Now with an appreciation for aesthetics comes to burden usually for appreciating the opposite. I do not believe Marla was oblivious to the fact that of most of these strangers she was meeting, they really had no intention of honestly helping her or being her friend and thus she instinctively retracted, almost like putting a shield up. She probably didn’t know why she did that and didn’t worry about it like adults do but simply “felt” that when these strange people coming in a out of my house and following me around were not part of the world’s aesthetics and thus weren’t people she should open up to.
    Now, I would not consider myself an artist but at times (would like to say more often than not) can produce fairly attractive works, mostly photography, music, and more often unintentional pieces (of several mediums) which I find to be true art because nothing was forced or concentrated on it just happened, the outcome was beautiful and simply an outcome of nature alone. What ever you consider to be art, in the end if a certain painting in you house makes you smile and feel warm every time you look at it or a sculpture inspires a piece of your soul to emerge (i.e. fear, anxiety etc. vanish leaving only you, the You you are truly proud of) simply by being around that piece, I believe it to be art. Even if a piece is so “ugly” its beautiful … what I’m trying to get at is it’s for you and you alone to decide what you like. The proof in the end that Marla’s paintings are art is that she has fans, and a lot of them.
    Now I honestly feel bad that a have this next opinion so be so strong and hope that in some way may help people consider another view but while I wish I was more of an artist I am in the end made to be a scientist and seed the capital T..Truth. I know using science to attempt to interpret or “explain” art can be a controversial issue. But if one looked into scientific experiments and studies you will find art everywhere. Simply looking at the stars, simply gasses burning at thousands of degrees Kelvin, or the symmetries and shapes and designs that exist everywhere in nature, one can see that science and art can more often than not be one in the same. With that, I would like to bring you attention the the characteristics of light (electromagnetic radiation). As most of us know by now, light has been found to come in two forms particles and waves. This is known as the wave-particle duality.
    This theory (theories in science only become theories when they’ve been tested hundreds to thousands of times..basically a “law” but leaving open a possibility for change-the most definite thing in the world) basically says that when observing light or any type of particle or molecule macroscopically as in just with our eyes alone that we see wave properties, but when observing microscopically we see particle properties.
    “The idea of duality is rooted in a debate over the nature of light and matter dating back to the 1600s, when competing theories of light were proposed by Christiaan Huygens and Isaac Newton. Through the work of Albert Einstein, Louis de Broglie, and many others, current scientific theory holds that all particles also have a wave nature.[1] This phenomenon has been verified not only for elementary particles, but also for compound particles like atoms and even molecules. In fact, according to traditional formulations of non-relativistic quantum mechanics, wave–particle duality applies to all objects, even macroscopic ones; we can’t detect wave properties of macroscopic objects due to their small wavelengths.” I found this in wikipedia which my quantum professor confidently sourced on more than one least with scientific cases and this one on wave-particle duality held up to its references, citations, and overall accuracy.
    With that said, when an entity is being observed and basically therefore being judged, whether it’s a person or a bug or an electron, that entity will not behave the same way as it would if it/he/she were left alone.
    For whatever reason, good or bad, Marla was being observed and thus could not behave and create in the same manner as she would and could when she wasn’t.
    Of course, just a thought but I know for a fact that if I feel someone watching me or know someone’s watching me part of me is trying to ignore it and just be myself but in the the end a small part of me is taken out of it’s element, so to speak, to keep an “eye” on the one with an eye on me.

  53. Also, and I think this being one of the strongest arguments in believing she did paint those pieces is that it is very hard to believe a four year old could keep a secret for so long. At 24, where I have had more than enough time to appreciate the “art” of lying, I still have an incredibly difficult time keeping a secret especially if it was equally as big as this one. Unless she was “brainwashed” or taught how to lie from when she could understand language, and implanted into her learning every single day, lying is an adult development after experiencing the costs and pains of telling the truth first.

    Once Marla said I didn’t do the “Green One” and that her brother did it..her 2 year old brother. I think Marla was being a nice sister and sharing some of the attention. Never once was it mentioned that, “Dad helped me” or anyone else for that matter.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Wow! You are all being silly. That she is the art, not the paintings. It really doen’t matter who painted them. It’s more about you. And if she did even better.

  55. Of course it matters Anon. The only monetary value these paintings currently have is in the novelty child genius aspect of them.

    If it doesnt matter who painted them, I could get some chinese factory artists to do some exact copies of Marla’s work if youre happy to pay $10,000 each for them..

    See.. it does matter who painted them..

  56. Anonymous says:

    The open free market sets the price, if people want to pay as you say $10,000.00 then that’s the price. If no one wants to pay anything, then, $0.00 is the price and only a parents love of those images are the price or priceless. If a buyer/investor wants to pay $250,000.00 for an Olmstead then that’s the price. Whether or not she painted them.

    Chinese made work is sold at wal/kmart usually gets $10-20.00, so it too has a value.

    Another New York novelty genius artist mass produced his work with others doing all the work and the values for that work is more than Olmstead.

    The open free market sets the price!!

    The art world does not set the values, the investment world does.
    Otherwise the van Gogh brothers would have been a rich men.

  57. Anon.. nobody has a problem with a little girl doing good paintings and selling them for good prices. The art and the girl is not the issue.

    People are concerned that they might not be getting what they paid for. A painting by a “child prodigy” is worth MUCH more than a painting by the 40 year old assistant or father of a child prodigy.

    I’m not against assistants either as many great artists use them, but in this case the value and interest is in the child doing the work.

  58. Anonymous says:

    If you haven’t bought an Olmstead and are not an investor in this work, I really would not be worried about what other people value.
    It inspires some, some call it a fraud and others say it’s going to need therapy.

    Too bad you didn’t dream this up, real or fantasy

  59. True.. and I’m not too concerned about the situation as I have nothing invested in it.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Having just watched “my kid could paint that” the most interesting thing to me is that as the mother of three brilliant children, does your child paint that? With coaching, coercion or under duress? Under any circumstances does your child’s art work really compare? I think not. I saw a number of her pieces that if I could manage her going rate would be pleased to hang on my walls along with our “in home genius’s” work. How many children that age stick to anything for that long of a time? The whole thing tickles me something fierce, don’t worry so about what Marla does or doesn’t do, watch her face and body language as she does it. That speaks volumes! I recognize a happy, busy, well adjusted child. Her comments about “help me Dad, paint a face” are a child interacting with her father in natural way, not worrying about how it might seem to others. Get over it. Either buy her paintings or not but don’t add to the injustice toward a seemingly wonderous child.

  61. Anonymous says:

    I think her father is very talented!

  62. Anonymous says:

    The two pieces that she painted while being filmed looked like a 4 year old did them. Ocean was a piece of crap actually! The other pieces were extraordinary and whoever painted them is very talented.

  63. Why doesn’t the father just take a polygraph? Did you see the look on his face when mother asled to take one at the end of the film? Priceless. Poor Marla, I mean that, when she grows up she won’t even know if she painted them without help. It’s very, very easy to manipluate children.

  64. Pink.E.Toe says:

    Many of the “expert” opinions on artistic merit of Marla’s work are lists of techniques Marla does not have when compared to college-trained, experienced or professionals such as Pollock. Lists include no evidence of intent, planning, composition and layering.

    I’m puzzled as to why the supposed work of a 4-year-old is expected to display these minimum, yet advanced techniques and thought processes. The comparison seems completely unrealistic and out of place in this context.

    Marla’s father’s work is photo-realist, not abstract. His genre requires exquisite detail with advance planning and sketching, as evidenced when he is filmed painting his own work.

    Would a realist painter desire or even be capable of creating quality abstract art? The radical difference in genre between Marla and her father’s work, plus the “expert” opinion that Marla’s work is poor quality and thus is not art at all, may actually help validate dad’s position that he never touched a brush to her canvas after priming.

    One critic did declare that “all” abstract artists begin with mastery of realism first, before moving on to abstract. That’s a pretty rigid, sweeping statement. However, if true, it could cast further doubt dad’s defense.

    For those who say there are strong style differences in some of the paintings, I agree.

    I also think that artists are not machines, that they do have times where nothing is inspiring, where a painting can be started but then stopped because it’s just not working, and that artistic style can change as experience grows.

    I think the 60 Minutes secret filming could have set up any artist to fail. Was she required to paint in a windowless garage, on an easel, under fluorescent lights during the secret filming? All other videos show her painting on the kitchen floor or other room, bathed in natural light from windows, with no easel in sight.

    Setting aside all expert opinion, there is something troubling that I cannot define.

    During the documentary, dialogue and body language of the parents was understandably guarded after the 60 Minutes piece. However, when they were speaking with filmmaker, it felt like something else was hovering right under the surface that was not being discussed. It felt like something was being protected during these moments. Perhaps dad knows something that mom does not?

    the combination of this weird feeling of something being held back, Marla’s request that dad add something to a painting, and dad getting upset when there was “not enough red” in his opinion, leaves me wondering if we don’t have the whole story.

    On viewing 3 excerpts from the DVD showing Marla painting “start to finsih,” I was very impressed with her work process. It seemed honest, genuine and thoughtful on her part.

    However, the DVD clips had music instead of original audio. If original audio is not included on the full DVD, I can’t help but wonder why.

  65. Pink.E.Toe says:

    Forgot to mention:

    Should any of this drama end up in court, would it not be possible to perform forensic analysis of Marla’s paintings, identifying which brush/palette strokes came from her hand and which, if any, did not?

    Since her dad primes the canvas and possibly paints the solid dark background before Marla starts, that would serve as artistic DNA for comparison.

  66. Anonymous says:

    The nonverbals of both the parents and the gallery owner say everything. “I’m lying” is written all over their facial expressions and body language. Read a book on nonverbal communication and watch the whole documentary again.

  67. Anonymous says:

    If that child did “Key Tree” by herself start to finish she is gifted beyond belief.

  68. Watching that video I keep thinking to myself “where’s the mess?” Who sets a child up to paint overa rug??

  69. Anonymous says:

    Im a professional Painter. I do OK in sales. I started out drawing and painting without ANY help from my family. My first memory was my incredible shyness at the fuss made over my paintings by the teachers. I would win every art contest I entered, but was so shy i once folded a work up when submitting it cause of the over reaction from people, they just couldnt believe a 5 year old had painted at a 12 year old level. At 12 I was painting with a university class.
    Thing is I always wanted to paint properly first before I could tackle impressionism and abstraction. I also have taught art to young children as well as adults. I can teach any child to paint abstract . The father in the Film has primed the canvas and selected the tools. The child didnt mix any paint she just skwirts it out on the page then mushes it with a spreader. Any one could get the same result.RED and YELLOW looks awsome together , so does blue and green ! I had to laugh at the comment from the “artist” who said she had not painted in 30 years. I guess nowadays everyone is an artist . Heres the test from someone who has studied at 3 Art schools under some hard teachers (one in Florence Italy.. o-my). Set up a still life ,Draw it then paint (it it wont move ) once you master that bring in a nude model,thats a challenge . Sorry, people who dig abstract are just looking at clouds ,it was only cool when Pollock DID IT FIRST , its really old now please stop ,there is no skill in it . I dont see why some think this childs paintings are special , good for her its the buyers i think are pathetic .I like abstract when its done by a sensitive colorist and has balance its easy to spot too. Sadly in museums it often relies on its large monumentality for impact much like Soviet and Chinas art of the Communist era. The bigger the art the more terrified the artist is that his ‘message’ is bogus. Ive also seen loads of famous art and you know what alot of its isnt that great. The best most talented artist are alive right now. They paint away in schools or alone in their studios poor and unknown. Ive met them they have much more skill and effort than i will ever have. The career and fame of an artist is much like a Rubber Ducky Race , we all get thrown in the water ,one floats across the line first.
    Happy Painting!

  70. I happen to be a realist painter . . . but I am appalled at the continuing negative reaction to anything abstract or expressionist. When will we artists learn to accept that art need not look like the art WE make in order to still be art? And there are many realists who do nothing more than copy nature. . . sometimes from photos and sometimes from life. . . but they bring nothing of their own insight or decision making to the task.

    A parent facilitating a child’s creativity is not scandalous . . . but the constant criticism and suspicion heaped on them is.


  71. I dont think abstraction, realism or expressionism has anything to do with this story Debra.

    The issue is with a child, a father, and the truth. Most people seem to have issues with how good the paintings are, so I hardly see that as a criticism of abstraction.

    Others have issues with how much the father is painting, rather than simply encouraging Marla.

    Either way, I don’t care as I wouldn’t pay the big money theyre asking for the paintings.

  72. Anonymous says:

    There is documentation of the kid creating paintings from scratch with no help.

    What other proof do you need?

    I think a lot of people who post negative on here are mean spirited or disgruntled artists who are jealous of the kids success.

    Not everyone could paint abstract and it comes from a gift that very few people have. The gift to allow the paint to fall where it may.

    I think that the kid is happy to do what she does or she wouldn’t do it.

  73. Pollack is spinning in his grave…

  74. ” YANNI” was the name of a young Chinese girl who was an astounding painter, I saw movies of her painting- throwing brushes onto the huge 6 x 20 foot sheet of rice paper and continuing to make the most amazing painting out of it.
    people might want to”google her” for another angle/example of a young child painting with her father ( also a painter) standing by.

  75. I was watching “My kid could paint” again tongiht as it aired on tv and was again wondering what had happened to Marla and again had similar questions to when i first saw it .

    I dont mean to be ignorant but does it matter if her Dad painted it ??? If its great art correct me if im wrong but what difference does it make if a man painted it versus a child??

    I realise it is false advertising but isnt it still great art no matter who painted it ???

    Also no one ever mentions a scene where she mentions her brother did the “green” one and hse didnt do any of it ??? huh why isnt anyone mentioning this bit??

    Anyway i just wondered what is up with Marla these days and looks like not a lot out there info i mean anyway just my 2 cents worth.


  76. Anonymous says:

    If you Marla parent attackers really want to see child exploitation read the story about Mozart and his father, now that is child exploitation! So don’t listen to anymore Mozart. The best part of this story is that Marla will grow up and continue painting. As for the quality of the work, not every Dylan song is great either.

  77. Anonymous says:

    To be honest, I just don’t know and neither do you. I wanted to believe that this little girl was a master. Then she did the painting outside and I lost hope. The argument that she doesn’t do well while being watched comes up. So when she did the “oceans” painting, it looked better for the parents argument. All in all though I’m leaning towards fraud with the hope that I’m proven wrong. What I want to know tho is how we have turned so unbelievably negative. It was good ratings for 60 Minutes to air their attack. That can only mean that this is what viewers want to see. Sad Sad Sad

  78. Anonymous says:

    Wow! It’s incredible to me how people can still defend the parents. Absolutely incredible. They are so fucking guilty it makes me sick. If you compare “Ocean” with any of her other paintings, it’s obvious to me, as it should be to anyone with a brain, that she didn’t work alone. If her parents are really saving all of the money they earn off of the fraudulent paintings for Marla’s college education, then more power to them. If people are dumb enough to buy them (as evidenced by this post, there are many of you who are), I hope they continue to make money. I just hope they aren’t forcing her to paint in an effort to satisfy some kind of uncontrollable monetary lust. Otherwise, I fear, that child will spend many years in therapy due to her parent’s greed.

  79. Anonymous says:

    Come watch me, or any of my artist friends paint for a week. Some of us will turn out consistently good work every day. Others might struggle to have any two works be of comparable skill or quality. The fact that Marla creates different levels of work is not a shock to another artist. Neither should it be seen as an indication that her father assisted her. It is simply an indication that some days she might focus more (yes, even children can focus) and some days she is less into her painting. Or maybe, just like many artists, some days she feels like being wild and other days not so much . . .

    But all this talk of criminality and guilt on the part of the parents is nuts. Let it go! A news story followed by a documentary were done about a little girl who apparently likes to paint. People who either found this a fascinating fact or just simply liked her work paid lot of money for it for a time.

    Let it go.

  80. Anonymous says:

    Just watched the show on Marla. I was very impressed with her work. I am not a fan of this type of work, but found some of her pieces interesting. What most amazes me are the comments from people that are so sure these are not her works, even the so called experts. You may feel very convinced in your heart that Marla could not have painted these without help, But you cannot honestly claim so, to be so positve in your belief that there is no chance of her effort. My son had a talent of a different skill when he was young. I would encourage him to work and offer suggestions to move him forward and give critisism, but did not force him when he did not wish to work. We all want the best for our kids, and who will judge if we go overboard, it looks to me like a lot of us on this board, how sad. Time will tell. Marla knows what is going on, and it will be a part of her feelings toward her parents as she gets older, kids are a lot smarted than a lot of people give the credit for. Marla, keep up the good work. John, California

  81. “What most amazes me are the comments from people that are so sure these are not her works, even the so called experts. You may feel very convinced in your heart that Marla could not have painted these without help, But you cannot honestly claim so, to be so positve in your belief that there is no chance of her effort.”

    You sound like UFO cultists who demand that we “prove” that there is no alien life kidnapping and probing people, for goodness’ sake.

    That maria’s art is absolutely different and devoid of “genius” on-camera and without the dad’s interference shows that there is nothing but a cute little girl, no genius. The father has some talent in his choice of career, but couldn’t sell pieces under his own power, without this novelty factor.

    I agree that I hope this girl one day lives down the scam her parents inflict on their buyers and inflated “market”.

  82. No one as brought up this very obvious fact. How did Marla, especially when she was four, three, and two, have the physical balance and reach to work within the inner part of these large canvases. Also, I noticed the way she handled the brushes etc. She didn’t seem to have coordination or body strength in hands. She held the brushes etc. like any other child and dabbed the paint in awkward movements. There was another troubling aspect. In the videos of her working, every thing was laid out around the canvases. Also the work she did when filmed by others was not the same as other work captured on video, especially filmed by her parents. What sold this art is great marketing tool. It had to be hyped as something sensational and out of the ordinary. I wonder if people would have been drawn to these same paintings if they had been made by any other adult painter? I highly doubt it.

  83. Anonymous says:

    People commenting here are missing a very obvious fact when they go along with the idea that Marla is a child prodigy, unaided in her skill, visual intelligence and creativity. Each and every canvas is formatted with the same basic formulas, all arranged by her father–that is, they are either square, or in triptych format. Painting is not simply moving chromatic material on a canvas. It also involves intentional compositional decisions and problem solving, the first of which is the size and format of the canvas for the desired composition. At no point does Marla ask for a different canvas than the ones given to her. Nor does she show any interest in choosing the elements of painting presented for her creations, which means she has help in the creative process. This is simply fact, and even if she applies the paint by her own hand, these works are not created autonomously. Also, given the facts just detailed, it is reasonable to wonder if she is also aided at the end of the process as well. Either way, it seems to me that the moniker of child prodigy is misplaced and misunderstood in reference to the visual arts.

  84. The blame rests on the pretentious psuedo-intellectual douchebags that are willing to shell out thousands, even millions, of dollars for shit on canvas.

    Seems like a working class family living in a dying upstate NY town that got in over their heads. Whether the kid painted every bit of it or not, it was the hype prone art community and the media feeding frenzy that lead to this, NOT the parents.

    What would you do if people started offering you thousands of dollars for something your kid “did”?
    I’d bet my right kidney any average person would take it and run with it.

    Seriously, millions of dollars for squares within squares? A single line on a canvas? Go on, tell me I’m just too ignorant to “understand” modern art, I’m just a part of the foolish masses that can’t possibly grasp the artistic genius of a dirty mattress.

    I got news for you people, THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES.

    And PS.
    Any idea what Mozart’s parents were like? They paraded him around like a performing circus monkey. If you think he wasn’t coached at all you all have your heads logged somewhere dark and dank.

  85. Amanda F says:

    I just finished seeing the documentary made and I have to say the little girl seems to show very little interest in her own work. She does some of her own style on camera for the documentary and my family agrees it looks completetly like a 4 year old childs work. But the art work in the gallery does look polished significantly. “Ocean” looked nothing like some of the other previous pieces. Significant strokes and detail in the other previous pieces that looks like someone else was involved. I think the father should take a polygraph test like the mother had offered to do herself at the end. I positively think he helped her create these paintings. I think they are doing a great dishonesty to true artists. I urge others watch this documentary it isn’t biased it simply shows the truth. And the truth looks very different from what the parents are portraying. I do think this little girl just likes to paint like every other child. However these parents added some embelishments and they should be held accountable they are the adults here. Marla is just a beautiful little girl that got caught up in this.

  86. Anonymous says:

    The only thing I have to point out is when Marla was sitting on the floor in the kitchen painting and asked her dad to paint a face or tell me what to do–her dad couldn’t stop himself from giving explanations to the camera about her words. He even picked up the phone and continued on downplayinf her comments. Me thinks he does protest too much!!!!!

  87. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the person who said finding the truth should be easy: see what she can paint without her father around. Even then, I’m sure someone would defend her actions (“she missses him and this affects her work”). Nobody with a clear conscience would squirm on camera like he did in the kitchen scene, or look so stricken when his wife brought up the P word. Are people out there really that dumb? Maybe we just need to wait for her tell-all book at age 21.

  88. A true “start to finish” video would begin with a blank canvas and a view of a full range of artist’s tools and materials in the studio. We would observe the artist’s decision-making process, from selecting brushes, palette knives or rollers and colors to mixing paints, applying the initial strokes, building up layers, and initiating the changing orientation of the canvas from flat to upright. There would be live audio–with an absence of any adult directives. The phony “start to finish” videos we have been offered only reinforce the idea that we are somehow being hoodwinked.

    While I like the paintings produced by House of Olmstead–they are colorful, fun and energetic–they are clearly collaborations, not the work of a single child “genius” intellect, which is how the pictures are being presented to the public.

    As to the question of quality and how these popular and pleasing works fit into the realm of serious Art, there is a difference between decorative and fine art–that distinction is the mind of the artist, the statement being made, the vision conveyed, the artist’s perceptions. What are Marla Olmstead’s perceptions? What vision is conveyed in her paintings? They make fun decor but in the end they have no philosophical intention behind them, and therefore they cannot be seen in the same context as authentic Abstract Expressionism. We can enjoy them–I do!–but let’s not blow them up into something too significant.

    Meanwhile, Marla’s concentration is remarkable. I will be interested to see where this, her real talent, takes her.

  89. my my…such jaded comments. has no one here been to the Cy Twombly museum?

    He has the child’s sophistication of composition to HIS painting that seem to neither imply planning or conceptualization beyond the extemporaneous application of paint, and he has a museum dedicated to his art. What’s different?

    Technique: layering and impasto are intentional and apparent in all of the works except those captured on film. – Check out her “fingertip technique” in the youtube clip and see how she acheives the “sophisticated layering”. It’s all there in the clip. Give a child a brush and you get brush strokes…a knife and you get knife strokes. The technique varies because the tools vary.
    Give a child a black canvas and you have the first layer in place when she begins. Is that a crime? Marla still created them. Notice that the paintings on black canvas invariably appear more layered and sophisticated.
    Give a child a limited number of colors to work with, and viola! she acheives a complimentary color scheme. Is that wrong? Notice she doesn’t have a tube of brown paint within reach?
    Anyone who thinks a 4 year old could not create that much material has obviously never raised a child. They are tireless bundles of energy.
    She appearess to be involved in what she is creating, and happy to be painting. If more parents were as willing to allow their children to climb up on the dining room table in a diaper, with buckets of paint there would be a lot LESS need for therapists.

  90. Anonymous says:

    Marla’s parents want to appear naive when they really are careless. Every piece of art should be documented as she creates it to avoid all the speculation. It’s obvious they are hiding something because they can easily quiet their detractors. Doing so would kill their cash cow. When Marla asks her dad to paint with her he refuses. Why? Because he doesn’t want to devalue the piece. He should want to paint with his daughter like he did when he first got her involved. Also there should be an automatic protocal for works he paints on and the one’s he doesn’t, considering the monetary value and validity they are seeking for the works.

  91. Anonymous says:

    I would like to see the paintings her father does/did. Is he an abstract painter or not? On her website there are no links to his works. Did he quit painting after her daughter started (like Picasso’s father)?

  92. I suggest some of you watch the film again . . . carefully. In the film you see an example of Marla’s father’s paintings, and in no way do they resemble her paintings! In the film it is explained that he only painted for a short time. If only you would pay attention to the information presented to you . . . instead of jumping to your own jaded conclusions first.

  93. Anonymous says:

    It’s obvious that Marla didn’t paint the works for which she received national attention. We should stop projecting our hopes and fears into this situation.

    Marla’s paintings are interesting but immature. Her father’s paintings are good, even very good. This situation is a shame all around, because both the curiosity and naivete in Marla’s paintings and the insight and instinct in her father’s paintings have been distorted and the artists have been hampered.

    This story has brought out the strangest suspension of reality that I’ve seen among adults in a long while. This is really a story about what seems real, what we expect to be real, what we accept as real, and how much deviation we will allow.

    Look inward, as Amir Bar-Lev had the courage to do.

  94. I may not know much about what I like, but I know a lot about art. I can understand why many people can’t see the difference between Marla’s uninhibited but very childlike paintings, and the sophisticated compositions that were not painted on video. But trust me, there is an enormous difference. You bet she’ll need therapy, because someday she will understand that she was not a child prodigy and that her father is a liar. At least she’ll be able to pay for it.

  95. you are terrible!! are you saying a child can’t paint like a adult!? that they have small minds? she is painting every thing you see the father was just offering the paint to her he didn’t force her to paint and she DOES enjoy painting child prodijy makes kids different from NORMAL 4 year olds stop with this she doesn’t paint like other 4 year olds crap!! she’s not supposed to she’s unique

  96. Dave Nations says:

    People say Marla couldn’t lie convincingly for a long time. She isn’t! Her dad could have polished them up, added things to them and Marla would STILL believe she did them. I doubt she remembers every dribble & scribble.

    Also, Marla isn’t starting with a blank canvas, nor complete choice to create. Her Dad, again, sets everything up for her, picks colors, gives suggestions (apparently) and likely “finishes” them off.

    Why couldn’t any kid fill a canvas if given the materials, time, encouragement, and instructions (even off-camera) to do it. Most parents have crayon drawings on paper because that is what they were only willing to purchase. Art materials can be pricey.

    For those comparing this to Mozart and the way he was treated… there was absolutely no doubt that Mozart played piano and composed music, regardless of how his parents treated him. Totally different issue here!

    Finally, the real issue is misrepresentation. Nobody likes to be scammed. Even if you LIKE the art, it is WRONG to be told it was created one way if the reality is different. Even the so-called “schmucks” who paid big money for fraud deserve truth. I hope they get it.

  97. Anonymous says:

    It’s reasonable for people who buy work painted by a child to get the truth about whether or not she painted it. Certainly, some of the people buying these canvases must be buying them as investments–if the girl painted these works at this age, they’re hoping she’ll mature into a century-level genius and they’ll get a huge return on their investment. This is reasonable and fair; you can’t market anything fraudulently.

    I like some of these paintings a great deal. I also like some of the zoo animal paintings I’ve seen (=made by elephants and gorillas, with a little help from their keepers, and sold to benefit the zoo).

    Kids are enormously subject to pressure by adults. It’s hard to imagine this girl is happy with what’s going on in her life. She doesn’t look too happy when she paints.

  98. Steven wood says:

    You know what, I believe it. Why not people. I don’t understand why her dad should be in jail. You all must not be good at something, because when a dad cares he knudges you in the right direction. She paints when she wants, and so often she goes to an art show, wow big damaged childhood. Ohh ouch, dad should be in jail cause he cares a little. Really, let it be people, when’s the last time you sold a painting for over 100$, at age 4,5,6 and so on. Maybe it doesn’t seem consistent, but why can’t she wanted to try a different way of painting. Or even she felt the pressure that was on her when everyone wants to film her. Truthfully, I see nothing wrong with the parents, but maybe some of you should be in therapy. Whiners.

  99. I have read all of the comments here and have seen the program more than once. I am an artist and I have also taught elementary art in a public school. I began to produce art at a very early age. Using the word prodigy to describe Marla is wrong. Where is the other art she produces? A true child art prodigy produces art with a wide array of materials and is good at most of them. It is the natural, intrinsic need for expression that drives a child a prodigy. My parents were not artistic at all. I was not coached by anyone.When I was young I wanted to use clay, draw with pencil, use chalk, try different papers, markers, etc. all of the time. My parents provided whatever raw materials they could. I could make a mess (in the basement), experiment, cut, paste, paint, use clay, and construct things to my heart’s content. I drew on reams of typing paper and used the backs of recycled paper from my the office where my Mother worked. My Dad took a 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood and painted it with chalkboard paint and hung it in the basement for endless drawing and school re-enactments. I was interested in tools, how things were made, and had an insatiable thirst for creating. My Kindergarten teacher called my parents into school for a conference and stated that she had never had a student in her 30 years of teaching with such a natural and exuberant art ability.
    I don’t see this in Marla. I didn’t hear her parents say that she drew incessantly and made clay figures or shoed any interest in any other media. Her father wanted her to be a painter because he failed as an artist and it was a way to make money. He believes that the public is ignorant–and he is right to some degree. He and the gallery owner wanted to dupe the public–and they did. The people who bought Marla’s paintings are fools indeed. They didn’t simply buy those paintings because they “liked them.” They bought them because they thought they would become valuable someday. To me those paintings are awful, Marla is being prodded and coached, and she is not doing all of the work herself. Fraud, fraud, fraud. Marla’s parents looked so uncomfortable on film and the guilt was written all over them. The mother was simply remorseful, the father was worried about being caught. Terrible people. They should be ashamed. And the art world has sunken further into a sad and silly realm full of money-grubbing, shallow people whose only concern is how much they can profit on someone else’s work.

  100. I too have been artistic since a very young age, but aside form being exposed to many media in school, I only worked in one or two media at home. The fact that Marla is not seen sculpting or engaging in cut-and-paste craft work doesn’t mean a thing other than she likes to paint.

    Why can’t others just accept that some innocent creation, when placed on the walls of a cafe, opened the door for the world and its corrupting influences . . . rising prices on the paintings and a gallery owner who thought he could market the art? In the film it is evident that Marla’s folks had to face a decision regarding what such publicity might do, how it might change everything. I don’t think her parents orchestrated this as a hoax or scam . . . I think they, like many others, just got caught up in the fun of it . . . until it was no longer fun.

    Marla continued to paint after the documentary aired . . . but thankfully not in full view of doubters and negative publicity.

  101. Anonymous says:

    In the DVD, the gallery owner says he knew the father since kindergarden, so those guys go way back.

    Also, in the DVD, they sent in some paintings by “Marla” to a local feminist modern art show, that was rejected. Remember the Artist Statement from “Marla” that was shown on the DVD? That was very clearly satire, and meant to be insulting. Watch the DVD extras for that.

    So perhaps dad, and the dealer (and mom), started out to do a hoax to expose modern art as a sham. Their goal was to dupe the dopes the NYT.

    Then as others have said, it got out of control, and the big money came in.

    But then, if they admitted anything, those who bought the stuff could seek to get their money back.
    That explains the stress of the family, did you see the glance mom gave dad during 60 Minutes? Like…I told you so!!

    There is no real proof the child did those paintings, of course.
    Digital home videos can be easily edited.

    Its most likely dad, plus some fine-tuning perhaps by the dealer, who is an excellent artist with solid technique.
    The dealer is also a very clever fellow, and a good salesman, and has contempt for abstract art.

    Honestly, it could be the dealer that is the mastermind, and this entire media hoax is his own secret artistic masterpiece, showing the art world as funded by people who drive Hummers and buy what they are told to buy.

    The dealer is the mastermind, the master of spin, the master of massaging the story, a performance artist. He even got himself onto the DVD commentary, to add more levels to the story.

    And honestly, the people spending the thousands on the art have money to burn. So who is getting hurt?

    The child.
    But they rationalize it by saying she is set for life, in terms of money.

    But this entire thing seems to be a media art-world stunt, and they pulled it off, to a very high degree.

    The only guy who said he has no regrets is the dealer.
    But even though Marla might have some college money, if it doesn’t get spent before then, its not right to do that to a child.
    Its child exploitation.

    So fine, dupe the art world, and the fools with their Hummers.
    But make an elephant paint, or a donkey.
    Not an innocent child. That is wrong, and very depressing.

    Everything about this art-hoax is nearly perfect, except for how the child was used.

    Now, they are still doing it, obviously for the money.
    Watch the DVD, where a former dealer talks about how mom and dad played hardball with him, and cut him out of the deal. At that point he seems to realize he’s been duped.

    So perhaps it started out as a hoax and a satire, and then the serious money came in, and then there is no turning back.

    They must rationalize it by saying that if people are dumb enough to get duped, tough luck for them. Also, some of the “collectors” of Marla’s work don’t want to lose a fortune, so they convince themselves and others the art is legit.

    So its an amazing art hoax, perfect in every way, except for the exploitation of the child. That is beyond reproach.

    They would have support for the outrageous media stunt, without the use of the child.
    There was an artist who did a satire about building a space banana, and spent tax-payers money on proposals, and had the newspapers raging against him. It was hilarious, and effective.
    But it was about a space banana, not about a child’s life.

  102. Anonymous says:

    The entire family dynamic reminded one of the Balloon Boy hoax, even to the point of where the child is telling the truth while the camera is rolling, and dad is trying to pretend it never happened.
    This is like the Balloon Girl of the art world, except their goal was to make millions of dollars.
    They appear to have pulled it off.


  104. I’ve had five children, all of whom loved to draw, paint, create from an early age, and I have spent a LOT of time around young children making art. The reality is that children are VERY proud of the art they create, and they do not disown their efforts as Marla does CONSTANTLY while on camera in the documentary ‘My Kid Could Paint That.’ Children demand the credit for their own work, period.

    Also, children value truth and it was fairly obvious Marla herself was trying to communicate the truth when she stated on camera that she had not painted certain paintings, and that her father does at least some of the painting.
    He also came across as blatantly insincere and manipulative.

    Finally, dreams have meaning, and I think this blogger’s dream about Marla’s parents being involved in child slavery was a valid commentary (from the collective unconscious) about the de facto reality of what is going on in this situation. Marla may have started out painting because it brought her joy, but now she knows she is expected to paint — and that’s that.

    The father and the gallery owner teamed up to exploit the concept of a 4 year old art prodigy, and that’s what they’re doing.


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