Art's Next Big Thing is Actually Pretty Little

Iris Halmshaw is having a moment. The emerging British artist has received high praise from critics for her arcadian, Monet-esque paintings, all of which are done without the steady back of an easel. But Halmshaw has kept mum on her success so far — Because Iris, the 3-year-old artist, was diagnosed with autism in 2011 and her verbal communication skills are essentially nonexistent. The British toddler found art through therapy and spends hours painting topless in her parents’ garden — it’s one of the few things that makes her feel relaxed, as she’s had a difficult time interacting with other children.

“Her autism has created a style of painting which I have never seen in a child of her age,” says her mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson. “She has an understanding of colors and how they interact with each other. She beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints, it lifts her mood every time.”

To date, over 100,000 people in 130 different countries have seen the paintings through the website her mother set up, and some private collectors have paid more than several hundred dollars a piece for Iris’ originals. Her parents are also seeking a sponsor for a proposed exhibition/auction in November, where all of the profits from Iris’ work will go towards additional painting supplies and continued therapy for her costly, thrice-weekly therapy (profits from individually-sold pieces go towards these expenses as well).

Currently, autism affects more than 100,000 children in the UK. Iris’ parents hope that the publicity garnered from her story will help raise awareness about the lifelong disability, but for now they’re just happy that she’s happy when she’s painting.

“She enjoys it so much, and that makes us massively happy,” says her mother. “Since she started to paint, her mood has lifted; her communication has improved; she is saying more and more words and she has started to enjoy making eye contact.”

You can buy prints of Iris’ originals here.

Featured image via Jessica Turnbow

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