4 Year Old Artist Marla Olmstead Sells Painting for 20K

I got four hours of sleep last night. I am not a happy Maegan today. But the main reason was because I ate too much chocolate ice-cream and the sugar kept me up I was watching a documentary about a new artist. A new artist named Marla Olmstead …whose original paintings were selling for 20K …and she was only four years old.

She had collectors buying her works and gallery openings and so much press. Then Charlie Rose did an expose on her and claimed that the father helped her and that he was the artist behind the four year old.

Then the family’s reputation was lost. Collectors were furious. Dealers couldn’t sell her works.

Everyone wanted to see her paint a painting from start to finish but when the cameras were around, somehow she couldn’t paint. But when she did, it looked nothing like the finished works in the gallery. Which was kind of misleading. There could have been something fishy going on. But why would parents do that to their kids?

The documentary I watched was from 2007. I think the director was trying to get the real story. He also wanted to see Marla paint a canvas from beginning to end. He didn’t capture it either. He was conflicted. I think the parents thought it would clear their now fraudulent name. I’m not sure if that was the outcome.

In the midst of it all, Marla’s mom was able to record her painting a piece called “Ocean” from beginning to end and that seemed to have eased the collector’s minds. Dealers started showing her again and collectors started buying again.

Have you ever looked at contemporary art and thought “Why is this so great? A four year old could do that?” Well, now at least the art matches the age. Some of them are really amazing though, considering fully grown men get paid millions of dollars to create the same thing.

Here’s her web site Marla Olmstead.com she’s adorable! It looks like they have captured her painting other works from start to finish as well here

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at ...love Maegan.com sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.


  • Katie

    October 6, 2008 |

    hmm interesting. I’m going to check this site out.

  • Rachel

    October 6, 2008 |

    Wow that is interesting…I will check out her site now…sometimes there are just haters in the world; it’s hard to know who to believe until you see the proof but it appears her mom did document it from what you just posted.

    I hope you get some rest tonight! I have a head cold to add to my soreness… Have a great week!

  • merc3069

    October 6, 2008 |

    I have seen that documentary and came away troubled. Not that I doubted that her work was mostly her own, that was a whole other issue (the dad seemed really irritating and interfering), but that a child so young was being exploited. I just read about a book you might like “Seven Days in the Art World” by Sarah Thornton. Look it up and tell me what you think;-)

  • Miss Anne

    October 6, 2008 |

    Love her work!

    Such talent.

    Kids are innocent/creative/amazing.

  • Holly

    October 6, 2008 |

    oh, i remember hearing about her on the news a few years back. i’d like to believe she does all the paintings, they are truly beautiful.

  • brookem

    October 6, 2008 |

    hmm… interesting. ill have to go check out the site.

  • Hope2morrow

    October 6, 2008 |

    I saw some clips of that documentary. Doesn’t seem like there was ever a real solution…. very odd!

  • La Belette Rouge

    October 6, 2008 |

    As a fan of contemporary art I am not that interested in the object but rather the theory behind it. This work is devoid of a theory and for that reason it doesn’t really interest me.

    It is really interesting how who the artist is or isn’t could affect the value of the work.

  • Wep

    October 6, 2008 |

    The kind of paintings that make you say “I could do that” are always the ones I love. Because when you try, you find out, you really can’t 😛

  • Bayjb

    October 7, 2008 |

    I like the first picture you posted. I did also watch that documentary and it was very interesting and sad at how things turned for her, she’s so young and adorable!

  • Jenni Jiggety

    October 7, 2008 |

    Those paintings are beautiful! Wow!

  • Nanny Pants is on the loose

    October 7, 2008 |

    that’s just banananutcakes! wow.

  • Franco

    October 7, 2008 |

    All I have to say is “Holy shit”
    I work in an art gallery and sometimes we get like some really messed up painting that just looks like throw up, when the costumers come in and look at it they’re like ewww but then they read the history of the artist or the painitng they want to buy it.

  • Bar-b

    October 7, 2008 |

    w.t.f. incredible. I love these. Thanks Maegan for posting this, I would not have seen it otherwise.

  • MomMega

    October 7, 2008 |

    What an interesting documentary…I’m gonna have to check it out. Also, the thought of dealing with a toddler/preschooler all day and then painting art? Sounds exhausting!

  • Tiffany

    October 7, 2008 |

    i saw this at blockbuster and it looked interesting. now i have to watch it.

    If the 4 year old really did that, then holy crap, those are amazing.

  • Lavender n Lattés

    October 8, 2008 |

    Great Post – now I have to check out the site. Thanks for the comment on my blog – and I’m glad you liked it! You hit the nail on the head – we do create our own reality!

  • Ashley

    October 9, 2008 |

    I wanted to see that documentary when it was in the theater- it looked SO interesting!

  • Itza

    June 7, 2010 |

    Esa niña es lo mejor del mundo, es super linda y buena y creativa, el documental que hicieron sobre ella, su familia y su arte esta muy bueno, espero que le vaya bien en un futuro, ahora tiene como 10 años ojala siga asi aunque no es lo mismo, a los 4 años impresionaba mucho mas, sinebargo tambien creo que muchos niños podrian pintar cosas parecidas, solo es darles el espacio y las herramientas.

    Quisiera ver cosas actuales de ella.

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