"Paintings by Iris Grace , a 5 year old with an extraordinary talent to express herself through painting. She is Autistic and is only just starting to talk but is able to paint in a style far beyond her years. We wanted to share her art to raise awareness of her condition and inspire other families in similar situations to ours. Autism is currently affecting around 100,000 children in the UK and these numbers are rising. In the summer of 2013 Iris’s story was published Globally in 207 different countries and over 2.3 million people visited her site with now over 120 thousand following her adventures on Facebook. She has sold paintings to private art collectors here in the UK and all over the world, in Europe, America, South America and Asia. All profits from the sales of her art go towards more art materials and her on going private therapists – Occupational therapy, speech therapy, Yoga, Music therapy and her future."
Now, I'm familiar with the extraordinary talents of people with autism. One need only see the mind-blowing drawings of cityscapes by Stephen Wiltshire, a forty-year-old British artist with autism, to know that these talents are real, even if we do not yet understand how they are possible. But I must admit I am skeptical of little Iris. Or rather, I am skeptical of the claims being made about some of the art that is purported to be produced by her. The paintings are indeed lovely -- moody yet structured, technical and lyrical -- but I'm afraid that the videos shown on the website do not that this very young child possesses the motor skills, let alone the artistic genius, that would be needed to produce them -- or at least some of them. All we see in the videos is a child gripping a paintbrush with a fist and shaking droplets of paint onto a canvass, Pollock-style. We do not witness the exquisitely controlled brushstrokes that would be needed to produce some of the paintings exhibited online. That, plus the exorbitant sums of money these paintings are now fetching -- $6,000 or so each -- make me raise an eyebrow. Yes, therapy is expensive. Yes, it's for a good cause. No doubt that Iris loves to paint, and may even have amazing talent. But until I see a video of Iris holding a paintbrush and drawing the lines we see in the paintings, I'm afraid this one may be just too good to be true.