3-Year-Old Girl With Autism Paints Like Monet, Enchants Art World

Curators’ Corner

3-Year-Old Girl With Autism Paints Like Monet, Enchants Art World

Here’s a heartwarming story for a Monday (or any day):

3-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw, diagnosed with autism, found therapy in painting – and on top of that, she’s seriously darn good at it.

Iris is unable to talk and has difficulty engaging with others. Otherwise unnerved and panicked by the world around her, she suddenly becomes relaxed and peacefully focused whenever she has a paintbrush in her hand. That therapy isn’t just intermittent, either; it’s helping her overall development, too.

Iris’s mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, knew that finding something Iris loved to do was a key component of her child’s therapy. After creating a playhouse at home that made some progress in loosening Iris’s social tension, they reached another milestone.

“One day I drew some stick men and Iris found them really funny,” Arabella told the Daily Mail.

Then there was a setback.

“My mum bought an easel and we got the paint out,” Arabella said. “Iris made one brush stroke and the paint dribbled down to the bottom of the page. She was furious and burst into tears.”

Arabella had a feeling that it wasn’t the paint that frustrated Iris, but rather her inability to control it from dripping. So she tried something else, and that’s when magic happened.

“I put a sheet of paper on a table instead of the easel and straightaway she filled the whole page. She seemed to know intuitively what to do,” Arabella said.

Courtesy of irisgracepainting.com

Painting quickly became Iris’s favorite activity; one that she continues to spend hours entranced by, often stepping back to plan her next stroke, occasionally letting out a squeal of pleasure.

Like any mother would, Arabella posted her daughter’s first painting on Facebook. When a wedding photography client of Arabella’s messaged her asking if she could buy the painting, little Iris’s career took off.

Iris’s aqueous, Monet-esque style is uncanny, and the art world is buzzing about it. According to the Daily Mail, Iris has created 35 works in the past four months. She has sold nearly a dozen paintings for £35-£830. A private collector recently bought two original works for £1,500 each, and prints are going for up to £295. More than 100,000 people in 130 countries have visited the site Arabella set up for Iris’s work.

The money goes toward Iris’s therapy, as would the benefits from a November original works exhibition and auction that the family is currently seeking a sponsor for.

‘Since [Iris] started to paint, her mood has lifted,” Arabella told the Daily Mail. “Her communication has improved; she is saying more and more words and she has started to enjoy making eye contact.”

Isn’t art amazing? Here’s a little girl who struggles with talking and making eye contact, yet she’s a prodigy of a painter who at three years old displays more talent than the general adult population. And while the world invokes great fear in her, she’s perfectly at ease where most of us wouldn’t know where to start – a blank page lined with cups of paint.

Painting by Iris Grace Halmshaw

Painting by Iris Grace Halmshaw

Painting by Iris Grace Halmshaw