BgArt News Blog
Friday, February 25, 2005
  Marla Olmstead on 60 Minutes
I did not see the episode on 60 minutes recently, but it's interesting to see what people have to say about it. See the two previous posts on BgArt News Blog and the comments that people have had.
Marla Olmstead post 1 - sept 30, 2004
Marla Olmstead post 2 - jan 13, 2005
I can't verify that this poster is real and actually know's Marla's dad (Mark Olmstead) but it seems real enough.. and would explain a lot..
"Let me start off by saying this: I know Mark Olmstead, Marla's father. Mark always was, and is, a glory hound. He was an athlete in High School, but never a star..
Let me say as a person that knows Mark and knows him well I don't believe that his daughter is painting the final product that they are selling. I do believe that she paints a portion of them and that Mark finishes them. If you watch the film taken by the hidden camera you can plainly see that she sloshes around with the brush, covers over things and randomly places shapes and other globs of paint on the canvas. Not nearly the polished, united presentation you see in the gallery.
I hope that she is a prodigy, but I believe that she is a normal four year old with opportunistic parents.I know Mark, and this has living vicariously and sucking up the attention written all over it."

See more on the 60 minutes episode..
"I saw no evidence that she was a child prodigy in painting. I saw a normal, charming, adorable child painting the way preschool children paint, except that she had a coach that kept her going." Ellen Winner
BgArt News Blog Comments:
her/his art is worth 0.99 cents...
Tell me how you get to be so bitter and angry about someone you knew in high school and feel like you have a perspective on what his daughter paints or doesn't paint.
If those of you who are attacking this little girl and her parents as though you have some profound insight on these people and their life, I hope that someone does the same to you and your offspring. If you think her art is crap and her dad is doing it, I guess the jokes on you cause I just read one sold for 30 thousand dollars. What the hell have you ever done thats worth that.
Why would you ever wish ill on someone's offspring? They have nothing to do with what the parents did. For shame...
I have to agree with the person who listed this Blog. Marla is not painting the final piece. On the kitchen floor she clearly showed she did not have the ability to layer paint. Also her Father kept making up stories on how she didn't like doing it in front of the camera, the camera was effecting her ability, she likes to do her painting alone, they don't want media filming her, etc. This is a clear sign something is wrong? I think the way to settle this is to have Marla in a control setting were a hidden camera runs 24/7 and lets see what she can do. As long as she is not aware of camera, there should be no excuses on her Fathers part. When a Art Collector buys a Piece of Art, he or she expects that the person who signed the piece is the actual artist. Yes, some artist such as Lichtenstein have helpers, but not to the extent of what we are seeing here. Here's an example: Artist Lee Reynolds has been a well noted Artist for some time. But he also allowed Students to use his name on their paintings. But a real Reynolds painting can fetch a nice price, were as the Student paintings signed with Lee Reynolds signature is hardly worth the price of shipping. So, Yes, it is important that the Piece being offered it legit in every way. This will have a terrible effect on her later in life, because she will be expected to produce paintings beyond her ability. As a 4 yr old, she may paint the first run down on the canvas, but it appears that someone with some Artistic ability finishes them. And it is easy to confuse a child into believing that they did this all by themselfs. All of us have ben around to know children will take the credit for things, even when they received help. Lets say, Marla mopped the kitchen floor, but Dad had to help her ring out the mop, held the end of mop because the mop was to heavy or big. Hours pass, Mom comes home and Dad say, Marla mopped the floor. The child then goes into detail how she did the mopping etc. These things happen every day with Children. But when Marla gets to be 15 or 18 and Dad can no longer convince her she did it as he was able to do when she was 5, this may have a Backlash effect. People will say she is a Fraud, Scammer, so on. The family needs to really think about what they are doing to this child. I think that the Hidden Camera, operated by someone from the outside of the family circle is in order. Thanks
And just one more thought, Most Art Buyers will never admit they were fooled by someone. High Rollers feel that they can not afford to look like suckers when they Buy something that is not what is seems or a fake. They stand their ground, claim it's real to their knowledge. If they prove that the Father is responsible, they can sue "which they won't" or they can stick it in a closet or storage not to be seen again. Why won't they Sue, they don't need the Media attention, if well known Art Buyers were to be shown in the Media as buying Art from what they believe and claim was done by a 4 yr old but find out it was the Father, Oh Boy! What a Embarrassment that could be! Especially when the Touted her around as a Pollock prodigy etc. These Buyers couldn't show their faces at any serious Art Event because everyone will know they paid thousands of dollars for Art work that wasn't done by the actual Artist. So, they will hope this may eventually fade away and be forgotten.
I just watched "My Kid Could Do That." I agree with the majority of bloggers, I don't think Marla painted her "masterpieces" alone. I think the dad painted them-probably doctoring up what Marla did initially. I think the parents opposite work schedules would make it easy for the dad to not only decieve the world, but to decieve his wife as well.

I'd love to see 2 things. A lie detector (for the dad) and a 24/7 camera that recorded what really goes on. Can you put hidden camera's in someone's house without their permission? What if you paid a great deal of money for something and were defrauded?
I watched the documentary on this and found it chilling. Marla is a charming, adorable little girl who enjoys splashing paint on canvas. What struck me in the documentary is things which do suggest there are some issues with truthfulness on the part of her parents.

At one point in the film, she clearly and definitely states to her father several times that she didn't do one of the paintings - her brother did it. She says this repeatedly, and even stresses that she didn't even do a bit of it, she didn't touch it. All the while, her dad ignores her and refuses to listen until she finally gives up.

Also I read that she is considered gifted because at such a young age, she can layer paint and covers the whole canvas instead of just leaving most of it blank like most kids her age would do. But in one scene when she paints in the garden, she does a little brushing, paints a sun (a circle with lines comming off it to represent beams, which I think every child in existence has painted) and then declares it done - with the majority of the canvas unpainted and no layering of paint.

This is when she was being filmed with no supervision from her father. When her father is there watching her, he repeatedly stresses to her that she doesn't have to do it, but when she just squirts paint on the canvas and rubs it all over with her hands, he cannot keep the frustration and anger out of his voice and makes the excuse that she only does that when she's on camera - off-camera she would be using a spatula.

However in the hidden camera footage which is supposed to prove what she does, you can hear her dad directing her - telling her what colour to use and where to use it. So I think he's possibly telling the truth when he uses very carefully chosen words - that he never puts paint on the canvas himself. That isn't, however, the same as the paintings being done 100% by Marla with no interference from him.

I believe 100% of those paintings were indeed painted by Marla, but that aspects of some of them have been directed - she is told what to paint, where, and in what colour. At one point she even says she'll either stop painting, or her dad has to help her finish it. When he refuses, she offers to tell him what to paint, but he has to do the actual painting because she doesn't want to do any more.

I'm afraid her dad does across as someone who is loving the attention, and he averts his eyes from the camera every time he says she didn't get help from him. When asked directly if he does help her or not by the director, neither parent actually denies it - they act disappointed that he's even asking, and mom says she'd like to take a polygraph test - but they don't actually come right out and 100% deny it, and of course mom doesn't take a polygraph.

I am not attacking Marla - I think she's a happy kid painting away and has no concept of what is really happening, except her dad tells her how to paint and she does it to please him.

I don't think her parents are evil people, I suspect they will save the money for her college fund and hope it will give her a good, happy life. They obviously love her and care well for her, and her mother is obviously very uncomfortable about her daughters fame - but I think mom and dad have very different views but are trying to present a united front to the world.

Everyone else involved with her stands to lose a lot of money is her work is discredited, which they admit in the film, or are the journalists who started the whole thing off and now feel guilty - so their observations are tainted either by money or guilt. If this whole thing collapsed and was exposed as some kind of fraud, I think the only person who wouldn't care is Marla - at the moment. But when she gets older, I do worry about her.
I wish her and her family all the best - nobody really knows the truth except them, but for Marla's sake, whatever the truth is, I just hope she grows up into a happy woman. Even if she doesn't do all the painting, she isn't a fraud - she's a little girl who enjoys painting - period. Anything done with the paintings afterwards, any money made, any claims made for it, are completely beyond her control. If this is a scam, it's her parents doing it, not her, and her parents who would have to answer it, not her.
the father coaches her. PERIOD! however, she is talented and will become a successful painter painting her own style some day. good luck to her!
I just finished watching "My Kid Could Paint That" on DVD. I thought it was a very interesting and well done documentary. I wanted to believe the little girl was creating the art herself, but at the end it became more and more clear that she wasn't.

The part I found the most interesting, was when they showed the "Ocean" painting between pictures of the others she'd supposedly done. That was like the moment of truth for me. The "Ocean" painting was so different than the other examples.

I'm glad I watched the movie. If you are all interested in art and people's motivations, watch it.
Maybe she is no "Prodigy" but she is extraordinarily talented. I thought that both "flowers" (60 Minutes - video) & "Ocean" (parents video) were absoultely beautiful. Can you expect a four year old to paint in the same exact style with each painting? If you go to their website there are more video excerpts of her painting, some I think are what people seem to call "refined" like 'Rain' (done with her fingers). Ultimately this discussion is about the investors. Regardless of who painted the paintings they are quite stunning and are, consequently, what they are. However, if they are not painted by Marla (which I believe they are) they are worthless to the collectors.
I watched the doc and I thought it was quite objective in that the director seemed to be genuinely interested in finding the truth, and even seemed hopeful that there would be a happy ending. In the end he didn't pronouce a judgement one way or the other, but rather let the facts stand and speak for themselves.

It's clear that the father has directed her painting at the very least, and very likely actually took turns with her and helped her paint many of the works. Perhaps he even painted the majority of some pieces. He is the artist, in my opinion, and she is one of his tools -- and one he knows how to manipulate very well.

The point made that children will claim authorship of creations that they may have only contributed to minimally is actually empirically supported in developmental psychology. Children are all too willing to take pride in other's work. Some think it actually helps them to with memory (in spite of inaccurately identifying the source).

The exchange in the film between the father and daughter when she says she's either done or it's his turn is very telling and quite a sad moment. The girl has obviously had many experiences with her father like this, where he would then take over or redirect her. Also, the way she gives the ultimatum seems particularly adultlike, which makes me think that this little girl is simply imitating the manipulative stance that her parent has used so many times with her. The dad behaves in an extremely guilty fashion afterwards. You have to think: if she really were creating these works independently, how would you expect the parents to act? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't give a f*** about what people thought because I would be confident that sooner or later the fact that the kid does the painting would be revealed. I'd have nothing to be nervous about.

An earlier poster said that she didn't think the parents were bad people or something to that effect. I really think this is wrong. Think about what the parents have done to these kids, both Marla and Zane. They have continually manipulated the girl and forced her to keep quiet about the lies. This kid has been helping her parents lie since she was four. Will she ever even have a clear sense of what is a lie and what is truth? Her parents apparently do not. Clearly the kid doesn't talk about the paintings because she has been instructed to be silent about them. Furthermore, it may be that if she had a choice she would not paint as much as she does. We don't know how much manipulation goes on behind the scenes, but given what we do know I think it is probably beyond what you can imagine. And what about the in the shadow of his supposedly talented sister, observing all of this chaos. One would like to imagine that when they grow up they will recognize what happened, which would be sad but at least they could recover some sense of truth. However, I think it's unlikely that things will get sorted out. These kids were raised in the context of a huge deceit, and one that continues. It truly is a tragic story.
Watching this film was a great insight into the art world. People, especially buyers, don't really understand art. They buy pieces they are told are worth something. It's a lie and it is hilarious. Marla's father is a liar and he is using his daughter to get something he could never have. Would the paintings even be half as impressive if people knew right off the bat that they were painted by a "grown-up" ? Would the gallery owner have even given him the time of day? The gallery owner is riding the band wagon and her dad is steering. I think that the mother knows, but realizes they are in too deep, and the father really doesn't want to work at frito-lays so...what else can we do? AHA! rip off our daughter. Nice idea. Watch this guy. Watch his shifty eyes, and how they get wide when he's put in a corner. Then watch how he pathetically digs himself deeper, but making these terrible excuses. He goes on for a couple of minutes, digging deeper. They are in too deep, so now, i would be willing to bet, that Marla's paintings are authentic. The new ones are likely hers..they don't want to get caught again. Why would they be willing to lose thousands of dollars???
I just watched the documentary "My Kid Could Paint That" about Marla Olmstead and her family. The main thing that struck me wasn't the controversy over whether the child did the artwork or not, but the entire contentious issue of the exploitation of this child's life or privacy by the parents and others. At first, perhaps the media interest wasn't anticipated, but the continued pressure both to produce paintings and be in the media spotlight whether to positive or negative acclaim seems like a disservice to the child. I agreed with the documentary filmmaker who suggested that watching the family's self-produced 5-hour film of their child painting is somewhat voyeuristic. I haven't watched it but it seemed to me like something that could be used for inappropriate purposes by the wrong person.
The documentary about Marla did not make the point that no artist produces work that is always of the same nature or the same level of quality. Most famous poets, for example, are known for a few poems that are repeatedly anthologized; the rest of their work is not quite up to the level of these pieces. Same goes for painters, novelists, musicians. So how can anyone expect a small child to produce work of the highest caliber every single time a canvas is put in front of her as the only possible proof that she is authentic? Children are easily distracted, and why should Marla be an exception? She is a child as well as a young artist. The fact that the canvas Marla painted in the garden was not at all up to the standard of her best work does not necessarily mean that she is a fraud. Similarly, the fact that many of the paintings in the show were different in nature, some perhaps better than others, some more complex and sophisticated than others, does not mean that all could not have been made by the same person--a child. We simply cannot know for sure what happens within the Olmsted home. It seems sad to reduce this interesting and uncommon child and all of her work into nothing but a moral issue. Like the professor who admired Marla's work in the extra footage omitted from the film, shouldn't we simply delight in the colors, composition and playfulness of Marla's lovely and joyous paintings--even if the child artist received some assistance?
I watched the documentary too and I whole heartedly wanted to believe that Marla was painting them and really wanted to see some vindication in the end. I liked how at the end the documentary maker had that expert talking about how art is a lie and the documentary is lie. How do we all know that the person making the film wasn't just trying to make a controvercial film--a controvercial film makes more money, right? We only got to see what he wanted to show us. Maybe he's a great guy, maybe he's not. Maybe he's the fraud who made a very well crafted documentary or maybe Marla's dad is....guess we'll never know, but maybe we should take all points into consideration...
I watched this film. I am an artist myself and I have to say, when I gave markers and paper to my one year old daughter, when she was crying in a high chair, she did quit amazing drawings. I showed her drawings to my friends artists - they were shocked. She did abstract drawings, movements not typical for her age.My daughter is 19 now and not painting. I use to teach 2 -6 year olds to paint. If coached, they do amazing things. If they continue to do it over years - they could become artists. About Marla - child is gifted, possible father told her to use this or that color. What is weird - that the level of finish, because kids don't like to do things long time, so its hard to believe that small child will do paintings that long to bring it to the point of being overdone.It is too polished. So I feel bad for a child, when she'll realize she been used for money. I hope, she will continue to love painting and wont loose her naive vision.
Enjoyed "My Kid" so much via Netflicks that I went out and bought my own copy. Relax, I haven't been watching it like it's the Zapruder film but the more I do watch it, the more I think Marla's for real. Consider:

--if the Olmsteads were attempting a great hoax would have have granted so much access to "60 Minutes," Mr. Bar-Lev, etc. That seems sort of risky.

--something Mr. Olmstead says in the film rings true. If demand for Marla's work is so far greatly outdistancing demand, why doesn't he just take over and churn paintings out one a week or one a day? It would be a license to print money, wouldn't it?

--I wonder if we have trouble accepting Marla as we don't have a great history of other child painting prodigies. We know of child music, math and chess prodigies but I can't think of any in painting, certainly not as young as Marla. If we had someone to compare her to would it be easier to accept?

--Artists both high and low have been marketed to the nth degree. From Monet to Thomas Kincaid (sp?) have had their images put on everything from umbrellas to mousepads to postcards. But Marla isn't a cottage industry. If this is a hoax and it's all about raking in the dough, why not merchandise her?

--as for some of the things Marla says in the film, let's remember that four or five year-olds aren't usually the best source of information. Kids lie, embellish, exagerate. Remember when Zane says he was painting while in "mommy's tummy"? Do we believe him too?

--we must also remember that Bar-Lev had hundreds of scenes and sound-bytes to use in this film and therefore it would be very easy for him to pick and choose the ones that are most questionable and most likely to stir debate and doubt.

--while Mr. Olmstead does seem to enjoy the attention (or is he just proud of his daughter?) it seems like fame came to them. Marla's work went from the family basement to the local coffee shop to the local paper and then nationally. If they wanted to, couldn't the Olmsteads have taken a more direct route?

--if for the sake of argument, Dad does "direct" his daughter when she paints, does it matter, if Marla is the one manipulating the brush?

--this demanding of video proof that Marla paints all her own paintings is, I think, a result of the modern media age. Now that we can't use an ATM, walk down the street or go through the airport without being on videotape, do we expect now that everyone has to have a visual record of their work or else it didn't happen? We don't have footage of Picasso creating most of his works or of Wright designing one of his buildings, do we now have the right to question their authorship?

Told you I've been thinking of this too much. Thanks for reading. Comments?
How can anyone watch that documentary and still think the paintings are authentic? The poor kid said that she did not want to paint that much many times and was shown asking her dad to draw faces on them and tell her what to do next. Kids that age do not have the motor skills to do some of what was on those paintings, not that they were that great. Also there were contrived things like the Micky Mouse ears -kids don't do stuff like that , adults trying to look like kids do.
And another thing...

I don't know if this most recent comment by Anonymous was in response to my earlier posting but I tried to lay out some reasons on why someone ("anyone") might believe the paintings are authentic.

And here's a few more:

--I don't know about now, but from the film it doesn't appear that either of the Olmsteads have quit their jobs or moved to a better house all built on the proceeds their artist daughter has brought in. If the plan of this "hoax" was to make money and fool the world, the Olmsteads are showing great restraint by not enjoying the spoils.

--Note that it's Mrs. Olmstead who offers to take the lie detector test. No one else brought it up. My feelings on all of this would be quite different if they had and either she or her husband had refused.

--Has anyone else noticed that everything was "pro-Marla" until the woman on "60 Minutes," who never met or spent any time with Marla that we can tell, raised issues and concerns. Just how highly do we value her opinion? It's interesting that just a few comments from a one person can so fully affect so many people's lives.

--Meanwhile, I would think that if an adult was painting those paintings they would be less likely to include the "mouse ears" as it is to blantantly "child-like" and too referential to Disney.

--Little brother Zane. If everyone in the film and the Olmstead family agrees that Zane is the more outgoing of the two children, and the Olmsteads really wanted to create this art hoax, why didn't they just hold off a year or two and then try to pass Zane off as the mini Pollock?

--if this is a hoax and Marla is being "exploited" by her parents, then why hasn't she been better coached by them in what to say (esp. in front of the cameras) and how to act and paint when she being observed? (This goes back to my point about ample access I brought up in my original posting.)

--I do concede that the footage we now have of Marla painting (like the "Ocean" video) are of works that are less sophisticated (or "polished," as they say in the film). But if Marla is at least, without question, painting SOME of these paintings why would the parents (or anyone) attempt to then pass other non-Marla works off as her own. Again, that seems very risky. It also doesn't seem like the more "polished" ones are selling better than the less "polished" ones.

More food for thought.
As an artist myself, I have a lot of work that doesn't look like anything else I've done. Also, for every good painting I do, there are several bad ones. If an adult artist can't make perfect works every time, how can you expect it from a child?

Also, I think that you need to consider that a child's brain is changing a lot at that age - there's a lot of growth happening. Some of Marla's earlier paintings could be the result of just playing and not realizing what she was doing. As she grows and learns, she'll start to think about what she's doing and her paintings will reflect that.
What a delightful story! I wish her and her family well.
What a delightful story. You go Marla!
I just watched the documentary. I have a five year old daughter. Of course we allow her to paint things when she feels like it. Some of her work looks nice but we never think that it could be sold. It is just child's play. I think that most of the comments on this page are nuts. I wonder if any of the posters have ever raised a little girl. Her mother seems like a beautiful woman. Her dad seems like a normal guy. Someone wrote that he looked dishonest in the film. I believe that he felt that the film maker thought at that moment that he looked dishonest and got embarrassed and then began to look uncomfortable. I think that we have all had that happen. You are in a situation where you realize that people do not believe you when you are actually telling the truth and your face shows that and people will say, "Look at your face, I can tell that you are lying. You are so busted." Some people show their emotion on their faces more than others. I teach HS in Brooklyn NY. There are times where I am called on the carpet about a false allegation by a disgruntled student. Something like, "He only makes me do that work." Or, "He does not like black people and he even said that." I can see that my Principal thinks that I am lying because my fair complection starts to turn red. I get embarrassed by the questions. The mind works quickly. You look into the future and wonder if the powers that be will believe the student, so you worry and it shows. My union rep, a nice guy, will tell me later that I looked like I was lying. Thereafter, the truth comes out when they interview the students that are doing well and attend each day. They will explain that I never curse and do not allow it at any time or how I never said anything derogatory about black people and so on. We have cameras in our school in the hallways. I have turned beat red when asked if I shoved a student near the locker room entrance. The cameras tell the truth later. I wonder why the students forget that there are cameras recording when they say these absurd things. The sudden realization that another adult may doubt your honesty can cause a physiological reaction that mimics what some perceive as a dishonest look. So, those of you who think that you are the next great body language expert need a tough lesson. I would love to see you set up on hidden camera and be accused of something that you did not do. I would love to see people analyze your reaction and then have people write about how honest they think you look. You can read their thoughts and get even more angry when you realize that most of them think that you are lying. Perhaps a taste of your own medecine. BTW, to the poster who is still angry that they did not get the quarterback position, get over it :)
Turning red when someone accuses you of somemthing you didn't do is normal. Getting angry/emotional/embarrased is normal. Thats not what her parents did when they saw the 60 minutes show. They turned pale and didn't saw a word. Innocent people will raise hell defending themselves. Guilty people won't look you in the eye. They'll look at the ground and don't say a word until questioned. If they were innocent they would have gotten raging mad. Wouldn't you?
I think the Dad did painted the paintings, but as long as the money goes to Marla and her brother for a college fund or similar, does it really matter? The buyers are happy with the paintings that they purchased so everyone is a winner.
Just watched the documentary, and also seen some of "Marlas" work for real, im sorry but i dont beleive she did 100% of the paintings, i beleive she may of hand a part to play in the paintings, but like a post already said no kid i know covers all the canvas... and the dad i found him to be creepy, he constantly stresses how great his daughter is going to be, and bascs in the attention received... Also i really dont see what is so great about the paintings anyway, to me they are just glorified paitings of which most you would stick on the refridgerator... once again it shows how the art world gets so obsessed with a painting that is, in my eyes, not a work of art but a mash of paint, personally i could do the painting she did, but would i get paid the amount she gets, probably not because im not 4 years old.
dont be so quick to judge people
you dont know how you would react in the same situation,these parents
have happy children as far as i can see and i can see in depth on this

only thing i would urge the parents
to do is not to leave Zane out,and
also develop his talents maybe with
more wisdom,and peoples love
this family will be a role model
for creative families alike

Dale Leitch Uk,England
The pictures are beautiful but some of the paintings my young children do are just as accomplished and beautiful.Maybe I should be as cynical and grabbing as Marla's parents and go out and buy lots of huge canvasses for my daughter to paint on, giving the odd "word of encouragement" now and again and milk my child for all she worth on the worlds media stage?
Sorry, that just wouldn't sit well with my beliefs as a parent!
I hope those children have bright , wonderful futures and that the parents one day have the guts to admit that maybe they made a few bad choices for their kids.
I think most people are missing the point here - I have three children and I would never EVER have considered inflicting this kind of exposure, media and otherwise, on them in a million years. Whether the art is 'great' or not, fake or not, is a side-issue, the main issue is ~DO I EXPOSE MY CHILD TO AN ABNORMAL UPBRINGING, FOR MONEY?

I don't have to answer that question for any of you, do I?
I watched the DVD, and was left feeling much the same as the majority of the responses above.

Then I had a look at and watched footage of her painting, and took the time to look at the paintings (old and new) that are on her site.

I now have a different perspective.

Coached or not she's a very talented little girl, and it's too easy to find ourselves swayed by the angles taken by any documentary.
I feel really sorry for Marla.

That's no way to grow up.

I don't think the two parents planned the fraud. I think it just sort of happened. And the father got in over his head. And can't even admit the truth to his wife or us.
If Mark Olmstead really did the paintings, why would he hide his own talent after the first one was sold? Additionally, I saw his work in the film. It was bad and even if they only showed his worse-it was bad! I mean really bad! Geniuses are not "normal kids." If they are treated that way, they become stifled and bored-destructive. So I say give Marla the canvas, the paint and let her sell away!
I am sorry to tell you all but at no point is this child showing any level of artistry that is beyond other children her age. There is no brushwork at any footage in the film or 60 minutes that relates to those final paintings. The child is just doodling and her choice of colors when she is randomly picking them shows no relativity and always ends up in a muddy result. Don't get fooled. Do not look at the captions where she is already brushing. Look at the clips that she is squirting colors.

Although a sci-fi Illustrator, painter, concept designer and producer for the past 20 years that has seen a lot of great & bad work, it is not necessary to poses any special skills to see that this story stinks from top to bottom.

Unless a time lapse video is presented there is no evidence that this child made any of those finished paintings. Even if she was coached, the repetitive brushwork in some paintings is to precise and intricate.

Maybe all those special people in the video where into it or they just got caught up in the hype and too embarrassed to admit that they got fooled big time.

This story unfolded like a UFO mystery and the idiots involved kept it going through out the filming.

Why in any of all this wouldn't a time lapse video be presented. To make it clear to a few. Time lapse would be video created by taking like a shot per second for that whole month it took her to do that one painting that was actually awful in comparison to the rest. This way you do not need a video camera rolling forever.

This would prove with no doubt if she was for real or not. But a bunch of assholes got together and wasted peoples time and money by creating another piece of crap to fill in some tv and media time.

Next thing is that that gallery show had so many paintings in it, some of them with ten times more work then the demonstration one month piece, that it would take that child's entire life to get all that work done.

Why are humans so stupid. I guess the same reason they believe in invisible gods.

Well, I will be Nostradamus today and tell you that the father will teach the child in the following years how to really do it and discredit all the none believers. If the child is properly brainwashed she will truly believe she made all of them from the beginning or if she still has some memories on how all this transpired she might not say a word for the sake of her parents. Or her pops will piss her off one day and she will spill the beans. If the first part of my prophecy comes true you will see all the sheep jump for joy. We know who you are. Do you?

How can any of you from the footage in this film see at any point that this child has talent. This poor little one is clueless. If she really created the work I will not disagree, but at least from what is seen here there is no evidence of talent what so ever.

Lie detector. HAHAHA what is this CFI. Request a time lapse video, which of course in a crazy world could also be doctored by a good video effects artist. I do not think we will see one any time soon.

For the person that calls the other bitter. Are you serious. Unless you are blind and only was listening to the film let me tell you, this story is insulting to any that consider themselves part of the human thinking race. People get sick of shit like this. Majority of abstract work is full of it. It's controlled by galleries that make and brake artists just like fashion tells you that a piece of crap is the next thing to ware. They re-invent crap so they have something to sell. If art was measured by the Mastery of an Artist in our times, galleries would be dropping like flies due to shortage of good art.

Well the thing is that this story is no more of a hoax as the majority of stuff sold in galleries. I kind of feel that the Dad is a good artist (if he is the one making them) and he could have gotten some work sold. Not my cup of tea but some of the work is pretty good, decoratively speaking. But in the world of art if you do not mingle in the their circles you need a pretty good story to get in, or a tight ass regardless of gender. Know what I mean. wink wink. The strange world of galleries & museums, which I am familiar with for several years kind of works in the "its who you blow and second who you know" formula. Ok, not all. Some are galleries put together by artsy fartsy drinking buddies. Fairy tales are great but not this one.

For the one saying that if the dad had made them why would he hide his own talent. The answer is in the above paragraph. His shitty work in the film could also be a diversion. Just think a little deeper some times. I'm not saying be a conspiracy freak but give it some effort.

So based on what we have all seen, it is as big as a hoax could be. For the child's sake I hope I'm wrong, but doubt it.

I know a lot of you would love this to be a another pretty story, including myself, but people please don't let others think for you. Put the pieces together for yourselves.

Yours Truly,

Not a Starving Artist. Nor Bitter. lol.
This is plagiarism and the father should be arrested. I feel sorry for the mother and the children. Sure didn't seem like Marla was introverted and shy to me, probably another attempt to "paint" her as a real artist.
She is no Dali
Nobody has the right or ability to judge this situation because there are too many posilbilities.One person says a four year old doesn't have the advanced motor skills to produce such paintings, but a pianist four year old child prodigy does?...that makes no sense, who are u to determine, if the child is a genius or not? You're not there when the child goes through a creative process so u don't know for sure? Writers and painters/Artists have creative blocks, the documentor showed u what he thought he should show u, so unless there's a hidden camera 24/7 showing the family, one may never know. Opinions are being formed by everyone based on other peoples opinions.
Like most of you I have seen the documentary. It's clear that Marla does paint. Take a look at Oceans and Flowers. They are almost exact in there styles and these two paintings are the ones on camera. What a surprise!! A few others have this same style. Hence, she painted them also. These paintings are unpolished and lack detail. Now take a look at some of her other work, unfortunately for us, NOT painted on camera. Yeah, quite different huh... Here's my explanation. Go to her website. One painting is a black canvas with white paint squirted on to it called Roads.
Here's the deal, the dad gives her a black canvas and a white tube of paint and say's squirt away. Brilliant!!! Next, he gives her another canvas and says just use your fingers to dab paint on this one. The result, Rain. And so on.. She is a few years older now so you might think that her style would advance. By looking at the website I don't see this. As a matter of fact, most of her newer paintings look rushed and unfinished. Anyway, good for Marla, because she is an innocent child who is doing something rather than sitting in front of a tv with an xbox controller in one hand and a bag of cheetos in the other. Now if someone can help me. Was it just me or were the're two dudes in this doc claiming to be her father. The guy in the hotel lobby and the guy painting and the end are two different people. And if so, are both of them lying??? Only time will tell....
I think her art is stunning. I hope to god that it is her that is painting the paintings. But even if it is her father, they are still lush paitings whoever drew them, and a painting is just something that you look at, who cares about who made it. People need to get a life and stop slagging off the family and Marla.. because if you dont then just think, your being nasty to a five year old. For Shame.
I havent read any comments that were nasty to a five year old naomi. It's the father that people seem to have a problem with.

And people should care who painted them as it's fraud if the father did them. The story behind the art is based on a "child prodigy" doing them, so if there is no child prodigy, there is no story, and the value of the paintings plummet.

Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons employ assistants to do their art, but theyre not claiming to be child prodigies, so it's ok.
I wish my parents had had such high aspirations for me, regardless of my level of talent. She is much better off than any four year old i know. If it is a farce it will not effect Marla any more than other kids, whom the majority if not all have parents who lie to them (and worse) she'll probably end up in a school with kids who have learned that living a lie is necessary to suceed - EG what is the percentage of kids with plastic surgury or have parents with plastic surgery in the uS to date?
I spent 42 years as an art teacher in the public schools. So what's the big deal? She paints and is learning from the experience. If she doesn't paint all of it herself who does it harm? not her. The dummies who think abstract (really non-objective) art has any real worth are the ones who are fooling themselves. I learned early on in my career how easy it is to paint this kind of dreck. Do 100 paintings and throw out the ones that don't look "good". So she messes up now and then, we all do . Not every piece of work is up to the standard of gallery display. Keep it up Marla.
I think the documentary certainly was meant to show us that the director didn't think Marla did the paintings. I think the director was dishonest when he said he went into it with a completely open mind. Get real. Everyone has a perspective. I think it's natural to have doubts -- she was 4!

I think people really miss when they say "aha!" when Marla comments that she didn't touch the one painting, that Zane did it. They quote that as proof that she didn't do the paintings. So the parents are busted. Marla didn't do the painting. Her 2-year-old brother did. Marla SAID he painted it.

Have you not been around little kids? They say all sorts of crazy stuff. Kids say things they imagined, wished for, or that are completely random.

I'm not saying I fully believe Marla has done all her early paintings 100% by herself, but just that anyone who quotes her dialogue from the doc as proof that they weren't her paintings is way off base.
Wow. How tipical is it to try and bring down people who are attracting attention? Anyone who has a child of Marla's age can tell you that she is not the same when the camera is on. My son is 4and when new people are around he is unrecognizable to me. He acts out in his own way. Is that it? Is she fooling with us when the camera is on? I would think so. As for the women on 60 minutes. Lets get real about how to view a person that wastes her time woundering how young people can do amazing things. LOL, it is not amazing to the people who are doing it. They are just doing what they want and it is others that reguard it as special. Do you think Marla thinks what she is painting is valuable? I doubt it. Tear her down for the complexity of the painting saying "no way she could have thought that far ahead." Why is it so hard to believe that how she paints is just her perspective? All the art people may take offense to this and I really don't mean to be, but abstract art all looks like a child did it, nothing more. There is no genius, just perspective. Art is in the eye of the beholder, right? You artsie people see nothing more than I do, but believe it makes you feel something. Talk about being silly.
She is a sweet innocent talented little girl whose paintings are motivational. Her dad is a lying, conniving, insecure barbarian who finishes her paintings. I can't blame her mom for turning a blind eye and just trying to get some sleep at night. I think Zane will be a stud and will be an awesome artist too.
I dont believe the more polished paintings were from her own hand. Her Dad isnt going to show his work that would be comparable to hers. So we wouldnt know for sure if he painted that style or not...I would love to believe she did them on her own, but common sense tells me otherwise. I am sure she will follow in her fathers foot steps ...if she really enjoys painting as much as they say. I somehow feel after viewing the movie, that the Mother isnt fully aware of what is going on? The Father knows more. She should be able to paint on or off camera, its ridiculous that she messes up her paintings on purpose. Ocean was good for a girl her age, and attention span. We will have to wait and see in the next few years, how she develops. But prodigy/? I dont think collectors are just gambling, in case she turns out to be more famous one day, their painting will be worth a fortune.
For the person who said we don't see prodigies in the art world, you haven't seen Akiane!

She was drawing portraits at age 4, moving to pastels at age 6. Her earliest work is more sophisticated than Marla's. And she's 14 now and look at what she can do. She also talks about each of her pieces, plans them, and has a signature style (and she writes poetry). This kid is the real deal. Marla is just a regular child playing with paint. Akiane is a prodigy.
you all are just mad that your kid does not have the talent by there selves and need to get a life. as to the 60 min report well they never can do any thing right hell look at the weather men and women. The child Marla is awesome and all you people need to get a better life than bashing children that are better than yours. I have a three year old girl and she is great in every way but not as defined as Marla. some can do what others cant that is the world and how we all have our place be glad for the child and let god judge.
I saw the documentary and after the 60 minute piece "in which during the hidden video of her painting, you see an arm (mans arm) adding paint and painting on the screen". The dude who went and bought his own copy of the didn't raise the hard sale that was done at the gallery of the grandmotherly lady who was struck by the considerable difference of "ocean" and her other work. How the Gallery owner kept pressing her - that if she left it to the opening then it would surely be bought out from under her -- it's called the "sense of ugency". She bought that painting despite having misgivings, because she didn't want to chance not owning something that could be reall....but she didn't buy it because she wanted it, liked it or believed Marla did it...she purchased it hoping that she did paint it and used the fact that her granddaughter liked it because of the mickey mouse ears. Why do we care if she did it on her own or with a finishing touch of that we are in a horrible economy and with scams like Madoff ruining finances that are generations old. Yes when people accuse others of lying there is a level of discomfort, but this guy is clearly lying. On their website currently now they show video's of her paintings from start to finish...but that isn't exactly true either...We see excerpts of her working on the paintings and at each interval the painting has more completion than last viewed in the earlier shots and blended together with video edititng. I am with the guy asking people to have independet thought...both videos that were shot independent of the parents she ended both paintings the same way...not completely covered and very much what a typical 4 year old would do including the signature SUN. Marla demands DAD to tell her what to do or take his turn...which is similar to the type of conversation that was recorded on the 60 minute piece when he told her what colors to use, where to put it etc.... and including a man's hand adding paints and push a paint brush over the canvas. He hoped that his hand wouldn't be seen...but no one in this blog even mentions that hand???

I believe that if the family still have their jobs and are still saving the money for their college fund that they save a portion for suites...and therapy for Zane. I saw I young boy wanting some attention too and not getting it...I saw young boy being ignored while their "prodigy" is doted on given attention and to the point where the child speaks to the parents as if they work for her...sounds like some of the celebrity children - who parents stop parenting and instead become agents on their child payrolll....I am not envious, I am saddened. Children have one chance to enjoy their childhood so they have happy healthy memories and hopefully happy healthy adult lives and too often adults find ways to make money off of them legitimately or illegitimately and don't care about raising them...The Lindsay Lohans and Britney Spears of the worlds are now paying or the lack of parenting and love and the desire of their parents to have a better financial life through their kids. My friends this is part of what we got to view in this documentary of this family and their is sad.
I believe that see painted the paintings that they say she did by hersel.
Consider for yourself whether you think the paintings are true works of genius.
I have many works of art that my daughter created in kindegarten prominently displayed in my home. They are stunningly original, and I have always felt that they look as polished as "professional art".
I saw the "my daughter..." documentary yesterday, I thought that the couple were very naive to trust 60 Minutes and their crew. Charley Rose and company are a bitter bunch, and I find it typical of them to go for the collective jugular of this family without conclusive proof.
The father is clearly overly eager to have his daughter perform on cue. He had bragged about his daughter's abilities, and felt nervous that everyone was waiting for her to create something. As a parent, I can believe that a child may shrug away from performing when prompted. The camera may have been hidden from her, but daddy knew it was there, and she may have reacted to his anxiety that she perform for the camera.
The wife was totally innocent and genuinely hurt by the non-believers. She had been used by the greedy art dealer, and allowed her better judgement to be over-ruled. She also trusted her husband too much, and should have been wary of what big money reaps.
Child art has always interested me, mostly because of their honesty and their innocent view of the world. Marla is better than average, and I am sure that 2 or 3 children out of 100 could pull off similar work. I would not pay big money though. It is nice that there are folks out there that can. If they buy what they like it is OK I guess, but if they are swayed by the art dealer into purchasing an investment, then I can understand the skepticism.
Talented children are facinating because we wonder what prompts them to pick colors, or where the design is coming from. I think that she should have been shielded from Disney and other crap. Once they start to copy pop culture, their art is forever tainted. As for the father, he talks about money too much, and therfore he is easy to mistrust. He should have known better than to trust news media where ever big money is concerned. Media is jaded by corporate crooks and shady politicians. Dad should have seen the bad press coming.
Shame on you! Marla is a child with an innocent gift. The media will say anything to tell a story. Go get a life and stop trying to ruin an innocent family. People and media make me sick.
I am not a fan of modern art. I personally think it ridiculous to buy any work of art that I, a non-artist, could recreate. Even if I had billions of dollars I would not probably not pay more than $5,000 (tops) for a piece of art. Having said that, other people have every right to admire her paintings and even pay $$$$$ for them, if that makes them happy. Is wrong to say a 4 year old girl did them if she didn’t? Of course it is. However, there is no way to know if these are done by her, no matter how many hours of video you have. If someone is crazy & dumb enough to buy something any kid could do (matter of opinion), or a painting (by other adult modern artist’s) that is nothing more than a black circle on a white canvas, then IMHO you deserve to be left with a worthless painting after spending $$$$$$ amount of dollars on it. Realize that art is subjective. Buying art is much like buying stock or real estate, it’s risky. Art doesn’t come with a warranty saying if the artist goes out of style, you get your money back, nor should it! I certainly don’t base my taste in art by what some supposed art expert says is beautiful.

I found the scene where “Ocean” was sold to a couple very uncomfortable and disturbing to watch. I shocked to see someone buying a painting they didn’t seem fond of, just because it was on the video, especially when they seemed to really enjoy many of Marla’s other art so much. I saw no joy in that purchase, so what was the point? I felt sad for Marla. Maybe it’s just me, but I would never want something I created and loved to be sold to someone who will never be able to appreciate it. I can imagine her watching this video when she’s older and mourning it’s loss. It’s awful that her parents felt Marla’s art needed to be pushed upon art collector’s and would not sell itself. I wonder if they keep any of her art (like normal parents), or if she ever doesn’t’ want to sell a piece and they let her keep it. Whether they realize it or not, I feel the parents are selling her off a piece at a time.

If I don’t think a piece of art is beautiful as well, then it’s worthless to me. Yes, this even goes for a Monet someone else may have paid 10 million dollars. It only has value to me if it’s sold to some idiot that would pay that for it. There was one nutty couple who read all kinds of things into the painting, like seeing the Divine. I am happy to think that they would love the painting no matter what anyone said about it’s origins. Perhaps it shouldn’t matter to you if no one else likes a piece of art, as long as you do.

There is no way to know for sure whether Marla does the paintings herself. I think it’s unfair to base the answer to this on things like Marla’s unwillingness to paint while she knows she’s on camera. I find it likely that the camera bothers her as she does appear introverted. I also shouldn’t be based on what she says, like that Zane did one of the painting. Kids say all sorts of things and can be convinced to lie easily, which can work in their favor or not. I base my OPINION of what I see. I do believe that she does do some of them completely herself at the same time, I believe the dad may either coach her or finish some of them himself. While I’m well aware that an artist’s work can look different and that not every piece they do is the same quality, I find some of the work is just way too adult looking. For example, ones I have seen like the Asian (I think it was called Asian Sun) one and another black swirls on white, seem very out of place.
Continued....After watching the documentary, I sensed the wife might not know everything that goes on and doesn’t really want fame. I feel both sorry for Marla, Zane and the mother and don’t think the fame is good for them. It’s terrible to see all the attention Marla is getting (not HER fault) while Zane being ignored. I felt the father is being less than truthful and certainly seeks the spotlight. I don’t think the parents (or even just the dad) are horrible people, just lost and misguided. I also don’t think Marla’s initial fame was intentional; the story just had a snowball effect and before they knew it, they were in way to deep to get out. Regardless of authenticity or a desire to be out of the public eye, if they suddenly stop selling the art, it makes them look guilty. I was, at least, happy to see that so far they don’t seem to be spending Marla’s money on themselves and are placing it in a collage fund.

BTW, for the person who mention Akiane, I checked out the site. She really is an a true art prodigy. Despite being Neo-Pagan myself (No I don’t worship the Devil, you don’t have to worship Bible ‘God” to be a good person, I believe all Gods and one God), I love like her work, even if it she an uber Christian ‘Bible God’ fanatic.
I have watched the documentary twice to make sure I caught everything. After reading many of these comments, I wanted to make sure that any references to what I saw was accurate to what is present in that film. I did feel that Marla's paintings were not entirely her own, and I did feel that either the father or the owner of the gallery that orignally showed Marla's work were the ones finishing her canvasas.

That being said, its a shame on many levels. Of course, if I am right, this is a fraud that has cost people a lot of money. It is dishonest to people who really were fondly rooting for a 4 year-old prodigy whether they were actually buying anything or not. But the worst is that it is lying to a little girl about her own abilities, and parents shouldn't lie to their children about themselves. Supportive, yes, but not out right lying.

The thing is, she does have talent, and it doesn't matter what anyone sees on the canvas, because that talent is not completely composed, so it's not quite usable-yet.

When she was being filmed painting in the backyard, and the painting was definitely a four year old's creation, that's when what talent she has can be seen. She paused more than once and carefully studied what she was doing. She was working things out, and while that painting really was like somethingyou'd see on an easle in a kindergarten room, she was very deliberate. With the right kind of encouragement, that might become something. Some of her less "refined" pieces, while certainly not prodigous, are pretty damn accomplished for a four year old.
Is the painting worth more if a child paints it or if it is painted by an adult? Were people buying the hype or a pretty picture??

It's clear to me that the creepy father did a lot of the paintings. The girls seems so indifferent -- so oblivious.

I feel most sorry for the little boy, Zane. Poor guy -- having to walk in the shadow of his sister and his crazy father!

I'm all for shaking it up, especially in the art world... But what this man/woman did to both of their kids is unconscionable. Marla must feel odd inside. I'm sure she and her brother will need several years of therapy to get over this -- whether she has big bucks saved for college or not!!

I wonder what she has painted lately??

jett 2009
It is now 2009 and I just watched the show. It is very clear that Marla did not paint all the pieces her self. Her father is cashing in on lies and decite, I do believe Marla's mother knows her daughter did not do the paintings herself, during the final interview a light bulb went off. Mr. Olmstead's comment about if he had helped her with all the paintings they all would have sold. She questioned him and at that moment she knew, that is why she cried. What a liar and what a shame to expoloit your own child.
I'm lost... I amazed at so many of you that have made horrible comments about Marla's parents. It obvious to me, that none of you have young children...and if you do, you do NOT know a thing about your child. Children are creative!!! And, more importantly, they are very very smart and know when to turn on and off when there is a camera 2 yr old can prove that! And, he's only 2!!! Mom cried at the end of this documentary because she's frustrated with rude people!! Mom, no worries, you don't have to prove anything to anyone! You know the truth and that's all that both have beautiful children and you've done great! When parents are proud of their child they want to share it with the world! It's too bad that people are people and no matter what, in any circumstance, that there will always be horrible critics!
Like it? Think it's the work of a small child? Is that worth something to you? Buy it!

The artists that really make me laugh are the ones that have helpers do their work, then they sell the art as their own. I remember one con-man who had helpers paint crude figure drawings with blank white faces, then he signed them... that was his sole effort. His admirers would pay thousands just to be able to partake in the fraud, then they'd state that the rest of us were rubes for not understanding the true artistic genius of it all! Fantastic - a con that everyone knows about and still goes along with, just to prove they are more art-faggy than everyone else! Anybody remember that clever douche's name? Flambouantly gay, goofy clothes and glasses, name with a "K" maybe? I'd like to rob him, steal some paintings, and hoarde them just for the hell of it, and to make him cry.
Having assistants is nothing new anon. Successful artists have been doing it for hundreds of years.

Artists dont keep it a secret either, so to use the word fraud is a bit harsh.
As someone with both an art history degree and an elementary education degree I can tell you that this child is very unique. Based on the video of OCEAN I can see that she has an artistic abilty beyond the average 4 year olod. however, After watching the documentary, I am inclined to believe that the father participates in her art process. I believe sometimes it is through verbal direction and other times he actually takes brush in hand. The art prior to the 60 minutes interview is clearly in a different style and expertise. What bothers me is the problem people have with it. What does it matter how the art was created. The artwork is amazing and as a collector I would not care who the artist was or if it was a combination of two artists. I guess the problem is in the investment side of it (The reason why I never pursued a carrer in the retail side of art). If someone is buying a "marla" because they suspect a child with this talent will one day become a world renowned top artist, and they want in on the ground floor then I can see how the deceit matters. But if you are buying it because you love her work, the process of how the art came to be should not matter.

As far as the question of whether the father is lying....I am sort of torn because his body language and voice is nervous when he is confronted, his side glances and awkwardness suggest deceit. But as a mother of a four year old child I can tell you, they go nuts when you try and help them. Four, developmentally (Here is the teacher background coming out) is all about I-can-do-it-myself. Heaven forbid you help a four year old zip their coat when they know how to do it themselves. And if I ever drew on my son's "pictures" or tried to rewrite his name for him, my four year old would scream, "you ruined it!" So I wonder how Marla can go to thsoe galleries and look at the paintings and not say, hey, that's not my painting. She did say it once that her brother "painted the green one." on the documentary but it seems to me that she would have more outbursts and maybe even temper tantrums if she saw her paintings altered. It is quite an interesting story to me in many ways.
Once people (or many people) have spent thousands or millions of dollars buying forgeries or misrepresented art (antiques, etc.) they have a huge investment in claiming or backing all claims the items are authentic. In this case it should be easy to verify. Have Marla produce paintings away from her parents under unbiased and nondirective observation (that is by people without any awareness of her and the controversy and without even telling them what to look for). Film the process. See what she produces. Compare it side by side with what has been attributed to her.
If she is a fraud then collectors in years to come are going to be mad that no one warned them! I am no artist, but I am a teacher of 6 year olds and it seems to me that the picture painted in the garden and on the floor both times were not painted by the same person who pained some of the more elaborately paint filled canvases.

Reminds me of the boy who supposedly went up in the hot air balloon some months back, both the fathers had that same look about them and both kids tried to speak up and were talked over by dad who made a joke about them" Daddy that green painting is Zane's, Zane pained the green one"- and Daddy laughed it off and hoped she wouldn't elaborate maybe on what really happened?
If a painter at art school sells a painting that has been completed at school and has been done with coaching from a tutor, is that no longer the artists own work? If this little girl who clearly loves to paint wants her dad to help her for some family fun, is that no longer her work?

If the dad one day suggests that red would look good there, how on earth is that a bad thing.

I think the world is an evil place to exploit this little girl like this. She is a sweet little girl who likes to paint for fun and if people want to buy them that's up to them, how dare the media make this girl a star and then beat her to the ground for being a fraud.

basically you can see she is colour conscious and does know how to move colour around and make shapes.

I thought this programme was going to be uplifting and happy and i have been left sad and unhappy that this poor family have been exploited for the sake of a piece of canvas with paint splodges on it.

Aaaaaargh ...The world!!!!
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