Along with painting like a learned master, Park West Gallery artist Autumn de Forest has the confidence of an accomplished speaker and the youthful energy to go with it.
The 13-year-old artist demonstrated all of these qualities and more when presenting at a Park West Gallery VIP event at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston on February 27.
This was the artist’s first time in “Beantown.” She took the opportunity to unveil one of her latest works of art, inspired by the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. The painting shows a pair of shoes that represent the bombings, modeled after Autumn’s tennis shoes, and stars to represent America. The painting will be presented to the mayor of Boston and belong to the city’s art collection.
“When I heard about the Boston bombings a year ago I was absolutely devastated,” she said.
Following the presentation, she took questions from collectors eager to pick the young artist’s brain. Autumn began painting “in her late 5s,” finding inspiration from world-renowned artists. When asked, she said she is a big fan of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
“I see these artists in museum exhibits and I’m in absolute awe,” she said.
She enjoys putting her own spin on classic works, such as painting a crayon into her version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” or depicting a Barbie doll like Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
Other works are inspired by an artist’s style. For instance, her “dripping” series has captured the attention of many collectors, depicting scenes of hearts, oranges, beach balls or concepts like her imagination dripping from the sky. She said the series was brought on by Salvador Dali’s surrealistic paintings.
“I just thought how beautiful that is, and not only is it a surreal technique…but it can mean so many different things, it can symbolize whatever you’re attaching to the drips,” she said.
She draws from other inspiration as well, showing high levels of conceptualism, expression and technique. One of her favorite paintings, “Whale, What’s Next?” was inspired by watching the TV show “Whale Wars.” She became sad at the thought of never seeing a whale in person, which in turn inspired the painting.
Another painting at the event was from her Alaska series, which harkens to her family history. Her ancestor, plein air painter Lockwood de Forest, created a series of works 102 years ago based on a trip to Alaska. Autumn, having been on a Park West Gallery VIP cruise to Alaska, painted her own series based on her ancestor’s works.
The young artist has even developed her own techniques, one of which she calls “pull painting,” where she uses a wire to pull paint across a canvas. Another is “wind painting,” where she uses an air compressor to blow around watery paint.
“That’s what I do with a lot of techniques, I say ‘hey, I wonder if this will work,’” she said.
To quash any doubts about whether she actually paints these works, cameras are set up in her studio to record every painting she creates.
Outside of the VIP event, Autumn spoke to students at Emerson College during her appearance in Boston. Her speaking accolades also include being the youngest artist to present at the National Art Education Association’s annual convention.
Park West Gallery founder and CEO Albert Scaglione has helped mentor Autumn during her career. At the Boston event, he told the crowd that Autumn’s ability to harness the genuine creativity and imagination of a child to create art is nothing short of wonderful.