Art prodigy Autumn de Forest has been a professional artist for most of her life. Currently in her teens, de Forest has achieved amazing accomplishments, including receiving an award from the Vatican.
De Forest descends from a long lineage of American artists, but her talents are truly her own. Her greatest ability is the power to inspire those around her with her humorous and precociously articulate observations and insights into art, life, and creativity.
De Forest was born in 2001, the daughter of Doug, a musician, and Katherine, a former actress and model. At the age of 5, de Forest wandered into her family’s garage where her father was staining wood. She asked if she could use the stain and brush to paint, which her father happily provided. When she finished, Doug was surprised at what she created, commenting that it resembled artwork by Mark Rothko.
De Forest’s parents began fostering her creativity and talent, providing her with art supplies and converting their music studio into an art studio.
The following spring, at the age of 7, she entered her artwork at the 2009 Spring ArtFest in Boulder City, Nevada where she received honorable mention. A month later, she won “Best in Show” at an Art in the Park event. Following this successful debut, de Forest continued creating art, adding a narrative element to each of her works.
“By then I knew that art was my passion, I wanted to do it for the rest of my life,” de Forest says.
Her career has soared since her debut. De Forest began to explore a variety of styles and themes, sometimes using canvases larger than herself. At age 8, she sold more than $100,000 in paintings in 16 minutes during an auction held in February 2010.
Shortly after this auction, de Forest was dubbed an “artistic genius” by the Discovery Channel and an “advanced child prodigy” by Dr. Joanne Ruthsatz, Assistant Professor at Ohio State University and authority on clinical studies of prodigies.
Although her parents do not paint, de Forest descends from an artistic family heritage that includes recognized and collected 20th-century American painters, such as Roy de Forest (1930–2007), Lockwood de Forest (1850–1932), and George de Forest Brush (1855–1941).
The young artist has made it a mission to contribute her time, talent, and artwork to charitable organizations. De Forest’s efforts have included arts education, the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and relief efforts in Haiti, Japan, and the United States.
De Forest resides with her parents in Las Vegas where she maintains a studio.
Style and Influences
As a self-taught artist, de Forest has developed multiple techniques in addition to more traditional painting methods. Her innovative “pull painting” method involves dragging paint across a canvas with a wire, while her “wind painting” method makes use of an air compressor and diluted acrylic paint
De Forest’s art education originated with studying the masters. She cites Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Grant Wood, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns as inspirations. In addition to her artistic predecessors, de Forest finds inspiration in the studies of dreams and psychology.
De Forest enjoys taking famous works of art and putting her own unique spin on them. For instance, her “Barbie Marilyn” series depicts a Barbie doll in the spirit of Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe, and de Forest’s “American Graphic” is a playful rendition of Wood’s “American Gothic.”
De Forest works in a variety of mediums and canvas sizes, but has continually enjoyed working with large canvases. As a small child, de Forest had to lay her large-scale canvases on the ground and walk around them to paint. To access the center of the large paintings, she used “bridges” that spanned the width and length of the canvas, allowing her to focus on any part of the work.
When conceptualizing a work of art, de Forest occasionally sketches her idea, but most often begins with an abstract image and refines it until it expresses the narrative or story she is conveying. Nearly all of her works, however, have a story behind them that she loves to discuss with her collectors.
While creating art, de Forest enters what she calls her “White Room,” which she describes as “an imaginary place I find myself when I am truly at my most creative.”
“My goal as an artist is to create art that makes people look at the world in a different way,” Autumn says.