The Inside Stories Behind the Early Works of Autumn de Forest

 In Art & Gallery News, Autumn de Forest

Autumn de Forest has come a long way since selling her first painting at the age of 6.

The 18-year-old art prodigy’s career has exploded—selling out art auctions, holding solo museum exhibitions, and even being named one of Teen Vogue’s “21 Under 21.” Naturally, as her career has evolved, so have the subjects in her art.

“Psychology really inspires me as an artist,” de Forest says. “A lot of the recent pieces are very much inspired by the mind.”

Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

“The Revelation” (2018), Autumn de Forest

As this young talent continues to expand her artistic horizons and tackle new and ambitious subject matter, we wanted to take a look back at some of the works that helped define her early career. Created between the ages of 8 to 10, these paintings demonstrate how de Forest’s seemingly endless creativity and imagination was already flourishing at a time when most of her peers were attending elementary school.

Here are the stories behind six of these works—told in de Forest’s own words. Each one resonates with her unique comprehension of human nature, even hinting at the artist’s later fascination with psychology.


“Barbie Marilyn”

Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

“Barbie Marilyn I” (2014), Autumn de Forest

This painting is about Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol and Barbie.

I like Andy Warhol because of his ideas about Art.

I like the idea that whatever I put a frame around could be art—even ordinary things like soup and soap.

By painting Marilyn Monroe like those things, she became a brand of merchandise too.

The moment I got Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe, I knew I wanted to paint Barbie Marilyn.

Written at age 8


“Dripping Heart”

Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

“Dripping Heart I” (2014), Autumn de Forest

I believe we are all on the Earth for a reason. We all have gifts that we can give the world before we die.

This painting is what I imagine the inside of my heart looks like.

The gold drips are my feelings that are attached to my love. Each one stands for an idea of something that I want to do in my life, to give back to the world.

The grown up trees stand for artworks that I have already given to charities to help people.

The road is the narrow path that I want to stay on so I can accomplish all of these goals in my life.

Written at age 8


“Heart Target”

Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

“Heart Target” (2014), Autumn de Forest

For this painting, I was inspired by Jasper Johns. He was around the time of Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol.

He painted American flags and round targets too. He worked with a mixture of paint and wax called “encaustic”.

Encaustic dries very fast. He could not wait for his oil paint to dry, because he was very impatient. So am I.

He would also put bits of newspaper in the wax. I thought his look was great, so I thought I would try it—but make it my own.

Written at age 8


“American Graphic”

Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

“American Graphic” (2014), Autumn de Forest

I was inspired by Grant Wood—He did the original “American Gothic” during the Depression.

I like Grant Wood because even famous painters [admired] other painters. Grant Wood had one on Albrecht Durer, a painter in the Gothic style.

This is why Grant Wood named his “American Gothic,” because he felt he was putting his own spin on it. That made me feel that it was completely reasonable to borrow ideas and styles, because even the painters we think are classic now, borrowed from painters before them.

I did this painting for Crayola, and used my crayons which I melted down and turned into encaustic medium, which is just a fancy word for painting with wax.

The pink crayon represents my feminine personality, and a ray of hope, that we never go through a Depression again. [Note: de Forest changed the color of the crayon in other versions]

Written at age 9



Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

“Tiny Butterfly Wings (Scratchy Gold)” (2014), Autumn de Forest

This butterfly is traveling from Mexico to Canada, because butterflies are migratory – just like birds.

While the butterfly flies over the Americas, it sees both painful things and beautiful things: like charities helping people.

When the butterfly lands in Canada, it realizes life is not a fairytale—that beauty can be deceiving.

Even beautiful places can lack beauty at their core…and places that might look scary and dangerous can be filled with hope.

Written at age 9


“Dripping Summer”

Autumn de Forest Park West Gallery

“Dripping Summer” (2015), Autumn de Forest

I almost named this painting “Anticipation”, but as part of my Dripping Series, I decided to name it “Dripping Summer”.

“Anticipation” because you can hear the crashing waves, and smell the ocean just beyond the ridge.

You just know you will have a great time. It is a very exciting moment.

The beach balls symbolize the wonderful memories we all collect at the beach, and the grass represents all the generations of people that experienced this beach over centuries.

Written at age 10


To collect the art of Autumn de Forest, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 or

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