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Meet art prodigy Autumn de Forest, 14, who has sold $7M of paintings

Financial Times

CNBC

by: Ben McLannahan

Doug de Forest discovered his daughter could paint when he was staining wood one day in his garage. Autumn asked if she could help, so he set her up with a brush and a piece of plywood and got back to work. By the time he turned round again, the five-year-old had created something “like a Rothko”.

That piece of wood now hangs in the kitchen of the de Forest home, in a quiet cul-de-sac on the sun-blasted perimeter of Las Vegas. There is an unmistakable talent in the hard lines, the slabs of colour and the sense of solid and void. “It was absolutely designed,” says Doug. “There’s no way it was by chance.”

Wherever you look around the cool and spacious house, there are other pieces by Autumn, the US’s foremost painting prodigy. A Picasso-esque canvas featuring a shapely figurine — modelled on her mother Katherine — hangs just inside the front door. In the corner is the inscription, “Autumn 2008”. She was six.

There is another striking piece by the back door — a wax pastiche of the Grant Wood masterpiece of a glum-looking couple in front of a house. Instead of a pitchfork, the man is holding a huge crayon. It is called “American Graphic”, and Autumn was nine when she made it.

Today she is a smart and pretty 14-year-old who cannot sit still. During our hour-long interview she jumps up several times to fetch books and other knick-knacks. In between posing for pictures she scrambles over furniture, skids around in her socks and cuddles Ginger, her “incredibly intelligent” seven-year-old poodle.

So far, Autumn’s paintings have grossed about $7m in sales, according to Doug, who is descended from a line of artists connected to the Met in New York. He says he has set aside funds for college — Autumn has her eye on Yale — and has put mechanisms in place to prevent her from blowing the rest.

Yet it is hard to imagine his only child careening out of control. She says she admires Taylor Swift much more than Miley Cyrus. In her free time she hangs out with children from the church down the road, where she volunteers.

Still, this is a delicate phase for the de Forests. Doug and Katherine are wondering whether to put Autumn in high school, or to keep her with tutors at a mostly online academy. Autumn, for her part, wants to go to a “brick-and-mortar” school from September. “I think it’s important to be able to be exposed to real-life situations,” she says. “Home schooling is great for travelling but you’re not experiencing what other kids are experiencing.”

Her parents worry about committing her to schools in Las Vegas, which are reckoned to be among the least distinguished in the US. But they also worry that her upbringing so far — bouncing from exhibition to masterclass to primetime television show — has been just a shade too unorthodox.

Katherine says she has been reassured by Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell’s book on successful people and the sacrifices they make. “As long as the process remains healthy, I can support it, as a mother,” she says.

Doug de Forest discovered his daughter could paint when he was staining wood one day in his garage. Autumn asked if she could help, so he set her up with a brush and a piece of plywood and got back to work. By the time he turned round again, the five-year-old had created something “like a Rothko”.

That piece of wood now hangs in the kitchen of the de Forest home, in a quiet cul-de-sac on the sun-blasted perimeter of Las Vegas. There is an unmistakable talent in the hard lines, the slabs of colour and the sense of solid and void. “It was absolutely designed,” says Doug. “There’s no way it was by chance.”

Art prodigy, Autumn de Forest at the Ritz Carlton where an auction and presentation was held.
David L. Ryan | The Boston Globe | Getty Images
Art prodigy, Autumn de Forest at the Ritz Carlton where an auction and presentation was held.
Wherever you look around the cool and spacious house, there are other pieces by Autumn, the US’s foremost painting prodigy. A Picasso-esque canvas featuring a shapely figurine — modelled on her mother Katherine — hangs just inside the front door. In the corner is the inscription, “Autumn 2008”. She was six.

There is another striking piece by the back door — a wax pastiche of the Grant Wood masterpiece of a glum-looking couple in front of a house. Instead of a pitchfork, the man is holding a huge crayon. It is called “American Graphic”, and Autumn was nine when she made it.

Today she is a smart and pretty 14-year-old who cannot sit still. During our hour-long interview she jumps up several times to fetch books and other knick-knacks. In between posing for pictures she scrambles over furniture, skids around in her socks and cuddles Ginger, her “incredibly intelligent” seven-year-old poodle.

So far, Autumn’s paintings have grossed about $7m in sales, according to Doug, who is descended from a line of artists connected to the Met in New York. He says he has set aside funds for college — Autumn has her eye on Yale — and has put mechanisms in place to prevent her from blowing the rest.

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Yet it is hard to imagine his only child careening out of control. She says she admires Taylor Swift much more than Miley Cyrus. In her free time she hangs out with children from the church down the road, where she volunteers.

Still, this is a delicate phase for the de Forests. Doug and Katherine are wondering whether to put Autumn in high school, or to keep her with tutors at a mostly online academy. Autumn, for her part, wants to go to a “brick-and-mortar” school from September. “I think it’s important to be able to be exposed to real-life situations,” she says. “Home schooling is great for travelling but you’re not experiencing what other kids are experiencing.”

Her parents worry about committing her to schools in Las Vegas, which are reckoned to be among the least distinguished in the US. But they also worry that her upbringing so far — bouncing from exhibition to masterclass to primetime television show — has been just a shade too unorthodox.

Katherine says she has been reassured by Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell’s book on successful people and the sacrifices they make. “As long as the process remains healthy, I can support it, as a mother,” she says.

The most expensive paintings ever sold

Dave and Les Jacobs | Getty Images
On the evening before I meet Autumn, on a warm and windy Saturday, she had just flown in from a tour of Ohio. That Monday she was due to visit the White House as a guest of Michelle Obama to be inaugurated into a group of artists mentoring children in bottom-ranked schools.

I ask her if the schedule ever gets too much. Not a bit of it, she says. “I love this, it’s so much fun. I’m a rollercoaster that only goes up.”

If her lack of regular schooling has been a disadvantage, it is not obvious. Autumn reads a lot and widely. Her current favourite is The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks’ compendium of case studies of patients with brain disorders. She loves old TV shows such as I Love Lucy, classic Hitchcock films such as Rear Window and the Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times. In her studio — which Doug built in the back garden, next to the garage — she listens to blues while she paints. That or National Public Radio.

She clearly has a good ear. In her British-themed bedroom, where she drags me to show off posters of Big Ben and black cabs, she produces three distinct accents. The first sounds like Adele, the second Keira Knightley, the third Dame Judi Dench. They are all pretty much flawless.

Children without siblings often seem precocious, says Doug, since they tend to get involved in whatever their parents are doing. Doug says when he was growing up in a Jewish family in New Jersey, he was rewarded for being sharp, engaged and thinking on his feet. Autumn says she knew what she wanted to be by her “late fives”. By the age of seven she was shifting paintings for thousands of dollars apiece. Aged nine, she started home schooling; aged 11, she signed with Park West Gallery, which claims to be the world’s biggest art dealer by sales volumes.

She recalls weekly trips to Barnes & Noble, where she was allowed to pick a book. She once chose a big one on Dalí, and remembers it bumping the roof of the car as she read it on the way home, strapped in the back seat. Another time she was struck by a Jackson Pollock reproduction in a children’s book called Olivia. The Pollock-inspired painting she produced after that, aged seven, hangs above the stove.

Other works over the years show the influence of Warhol, Matisse, Lichtenstein and O’Keeffe. Autumn’s pop pieces tend to get the highest prices at auction, but she is keen to keep exploring themes and styles. “Once I am labelled, then that point” — she clicks her fingers — “move on.”

Her parents have put their own lives on hold to a large extent, while her star rises. Doug spent 20 years in Los Angeles as a drummer and composer before moving to Las Vegas in 2003. Katherine was an actress, appearing in TV shows Murder, She Wrote and Baywatch.

She knew what she wanted to be by her ‘late fives’. By seven, she was selling works for thousands of dollars

Doug is now keen to develop Autumn as a brand. So far he has done “small” deals with American Girl, Gap and Nordstrom, the upmarket department store, which sells Converse high-top trainers bearing a design by Autumn.
He also wants to set up an online portal — working title, “Autumn Bomb” — for children to exhibit and sell their art. What better way for a child from a poor family to start a college fund?

Later, in the kitchen, he shows me a collection of self-portraits produced by a group of children in Autumn’s mentoring programme, which uses materials provided by Park West. Some of the paintings are extraordinarily good, and Doug seems as proud of them as he is of those by his daughter.

Autumn, too, has been moved by what she has seen so far. One of her students in Brooklyn sent her a photo of her portrait hanging on a wall at home. The room is shabby, the plaster cracked. But the pride shines through.

“She made that house beautiful, just through her creativity,” says Autumn. “It’s wonderful to witness.”

Doug is conscious of the advantages his own daughter has enjoyed, born to well-off parents with a creative bent. He bought Autumn all her materials to get her started and built the studio. But, he insists, “I’m the opposite of a ‘stage dad’. “I want to be a facilitator, to make hurdles go away.”

When his daughter presented her first show at the age of five — part of an “Art in the Park” event in Boulder City, Nevada — Doug made a game of it, telling her she was a cheetah and the passers-by gazelles. Her job was to pounce before they got away.

Autumn became “a different person” after that, he says. She slept that night still wearing her exhibitor’s name badge. “To be appreciated and recognised is a powerful, powerful thing.”

Favourite thing

Autumn chooses a trophy awarded to her on her first trip outside the US in November last year when she was invited to Rome to receive the International Giuseppe Sciacca Award for Painting and Art.

The award, bestowed by the Vatican, is given to people under 35 who show talent in the fields of knowledge and art and who are also role models for their communities. Autumn gave a nerveless acceptance speech — in Italian — and presented a painting to Pope Francis.

“I said, ‘when I come back to Vatican City you gotta take my painting out of the closet and hang it back up’,” she says. “He got a kick out of it; he was so sweet and generous and kind.”

tryptic-news

14-year-old internationally acclaimed artist returns to Stone Harbor

14-year-old internationally acclaimed artist returns to Stone Harbor.

By Kelly Roncace | For NJ.com

Artist Autumn de Forest began her journey into the world of art when she was just a toddler.

On Aug. 5, the now 14-year-old will bring a collection of her latest creations — including the Vatican Series and several ocean-inspired paintings — to Ocean Galleries in Stone Harbor.

Autumn’s last visit to the Jersey Shore was in July 2013 when her Hurricane Sandy relief painting, “No Storm Can Stop Us,” was unveiled at artBOX — an artist’s community — on Adventure Pier in Wildwood.

“I’m so happy to be coming back to Stone Harbor,” Autumn said in a recent telephone interview.

The artist has gone from painting Barbie dolls and using “a lot of pink,” to creating much more complex paintings today.

“Some are more psychological, but it’s fun because I’m trying to create what could be in our minds, on canvas,” she explained. “It’s about trying to create what is in the mind.”

Autumn has painted using a variety of of techniques, and said she doesn’t see herself as having any one style.

“At first, I did mostly abstract,” she said. “But the more I painted, the more I wanted to learn more about art, so I read about different artists and their styles. I definitely don’t think I have one style.”

Autumn’s artwork has been recognized by the Walt Disney Company and Discovery Channel, can be seen on a special line of Converse Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers that are sold exclusively at Nordstrom stores, and earned her the Premio Giuseppe Sciacca Award for Arts and Culture in November 2015.

The award was established by the International Association of Culture and Voluntary Work ‘Uomo e Societa (Man and Society), to recognize individuals who are 35 and younger, from all over the world, who are trying to make the world a better place through art, community involvement, and education.

Shortly after she found out she would be visiting the Vatican to receive her award, she began working on a piece for Pope Francis.

“When I first started, it took a lot of thought and a lot of practice,” Autumn said. “I wanted to make it simple, yet powerful. That was my goal.”

After much trial and error with many different designs and subject matter, she knew she had reached her goal when she painted, “Resurrection.”

“Once I created it, I knew that was the one,” she said.

Despite some difficulties, Autumn was able to present the painting to Pope Francis and it now hangs in the Vatican.

“I had a wonderful experience in Rome,” she said.

And being the artist that she is, her experience there, of course, inspired some new artwork.

The Vatican Series, inspired by Rome and her experiences there, will be on display at her upcoming Ocean Galleries exhibit.

“Autumn de Forest – The Journey Continues” runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Aug. 5 to Aug. 7 at Ocean Galleries.

Autumn will be available to sign purchased artwork from 6 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 5, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 6 and 7.

Ocean Galleries is located at 9618 Third Avenue in Stone Harbor.

For more information, call 609-368-7777 or visit oceangalleries.com.

butler-installation

Child Prodigy, Autumn de Forest, Returns to Stone Harbor, NJ

Child Prodigy, Autumn de Forest, Returns to Stone Harbor, NJ

“Autumn de Forest – The Journey Continues” opens at Ocean Galleries on Friday, August 5 and runs through Sunday, August 7, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily, with all artwork available for acquisition. Guests will have the opportunity to meet Autumn de Forest when she signs purchased artwork from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM on Friday, August 5 and Saturday, August 6, and from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 7.

oceangalleries

Ocean Galleries Presents “Autumn de Forest – The Journey Continues”

Ocean Galleries Presents ”Autumn de Forest – The Journey Continues“

She has been called “one of the most important artists of her generation” by the Walt Disney Company and “a creative genius” by the Discovery Channel. Ocean Galleries welcomes back the incredible, young artist Autumn de Forest with “Autumn de Forest – The Journey Continues.” The exhibit opens on Friday, August 5 and runs through Sunday, August 7, 2016.

Autumn de Forest has been a professional painter for more than half her young life and has had an incredible journey. At the age of ten, Autumn held her very first solo exhibition at Ocean Galleries and has had a whirlwind of projects and new artwork since then. Often described as a child prodigy, the talented 14-year-old artist made history this spring as the youngest painter ever to have a solo museum exhibition when her works were displayed at the Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, OH). “Autumn de Forest gives us hope for the future of American art,” said Dr. Louis Zona, Executive Director and Chief Curator for the Butler Institute of American Art.

Her wide-ranging projects have included creating artwork for a line of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars™ (sold exclusively at Nordstrom stores nationwide) and being honored by the Vatican for her creativity, humanitarianism, and charitable works. This past year, Autumn was extended a private audience with Pope Francis, where she presented him with her painting “Resurrection,” which now resides in the Vatican.

The multitalented and poised teen artist has commissioned six-figure works of art and has garnered national and international acclaim for her imaginative artwork. Her artistic style has been compared to iconic abstract painters including Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Pablo Picasso. In fact, at The Butler Institute of American Art, Autumn’s paintings hang among artworks by these very Masters. Autumn’s exhibition at Ocean Galleries will feature a collection of all new artwork, with many paintings created specifically for the show.

“We were fortunate to have met Autumn when she was only nine-years-old and were extremely impressed by her amazing talent. It was clear to us that Autumn was immensely gifted,” said gallery owner Kim Miller. “Over the past few years, Autumn has continued to develop as an artist, using her talents to communicate and connect to people.”

Ocean Galleries Presents "Autumn de Forest – The Journey Continues"Although most recognized for her artwork, Autumn has always had an innate ability to inspire those around her with the wonder of creativity and the beauty of self-expression. Miller added, “She is very much at ease sharing her articulate inspirations, observations, and insights with adults and children alike.” Since she was a young child, Autumn has been extremely compassionate about helping the world with her art. She has traveled the country speaking on the importance of arts in education and continually uses her artwork to raise funds for charitable organizations.

The “Autumn de Forest – The Journey Continues” exhibit will be at Ocean Galleries Friday, August 5 through Sunday, August 7, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily, with all artwork available for acquisition. Autumn de Forest will make special gallery appearances at receptions from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM on Friday, August 5 and Saturday, August 6, and from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 7.

In addition to an extraordinary collection of artwork and custom-framing, Ocean Galleries also offers a variety of hand-made crafts from local, regional, and national artists in America, such as glass, pottery, jewelry, and furniture. All summer exhibitions take place at the Stone Harbor location of Ocean Galleries (9618 Third Avenue), which is open daily from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM. The Avalon, NJ location of Ocean Galleries (2199 Ocean Drive) is open daily from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. For more information or directions, call 609-368-7777 or visit www.oceangalleries.com

powerpaint

The Power of Paint

The Power of Paint.

On most days, San Bernardino’s Barton Elementary looks like most other California schools struggling to make ends meet: There are the familiar modular classrooms, concrete quads and windows covered by metal latticework — an unfortunate reality for children living in high-poverty communities across the nation. But this February day is special. Leaning against the taupe walls, striking images of children’s faces, painted with the expertise and expression of true artists, peer back at the very students who painted them. Children talk excitedly about their creations. For most fifth graders at Barton, it’s the first time they’ve painted a self-portrait — and they’re loving every minute of it.

butler-installation

artdaily.org: The Butler to show works of 14 year old artist Autumn de Forest


artdaily.org: The Butler to show works of 14 year old artist Autumn de Forest

Reprinted from artdaily.org

YOUNGSTOWN, OH.- The Butler Institute of American Art, located at 524 Wick Avenue, will present the exhibition, Autumn de Forest: The Tradition Continues from April 10 through June 26, 2016. On Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 1:00 pm, the public and the media are invited to the Butler for an artist demonstration in which adults and children alike can view the young artist’s creative process.

On Sunday, April 10, 2016 a public Meet-the-Artist reception will start at 1:00 pm with a museum member’s “high tea” reception at 2:00 pm.

Butler director, Louis Zona marvels at the quality of work created by this young lady, and comments, “Autumn de Forest is by any measure, a child prodigy. The community is in for a treat”.

Now based in Las Vegas, Autumn de Forest is an artist who happens to be fourteen. She moves freely between abstraction and representation, often mixing elements of both. She experiments with different techniques, such as laying down what she calls an “imperfectly perfect” surface. It may come as a surprise that a number of pieces were painted by a five year old. With no formal art training, Autumn began a self-education process and pursuit of painting at age 5, studying the works of other artists with a dedication and consistency that is beyond that of the usual child. In her explorations and research of the style and technique of well-known artists, she has referenced and paid homage to the works of Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Grant Wood, Robert Indiana and Franz Kline, AND Robert Motherwell. Autumn’s family tree has a number of art world figures including her great, great uncle Hudson River School painter, Lockwood de Forest.

Other members of her family include; her great, great uncle Robert Weeks de Forest, former president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, cousins, George de Forest Brush, an American painter in the Western School of Art, and Roy de Forest, a pioneer in the new California Abstract Expressionist Movement.

child-prodigy

Child Prodigy Artist Autumn de Forest

Child Prodigy Artist Autumn de Forest

(WTNH) — She has been called a genius, prodigy, and a modern master. A 13 year old professional artist Autumn de Forest began painting at the age of 5 and has been painting masterpieces ever since. She has been compared to Picasso and Warhol.

Autumn recently returned from the Vatican where she was honored by Pope Francis himself. Her artwork, a gift to the pope, is now hanging in the Vatican.

In the U.S. Autumn works with Turnaround Arts, which uses art to create success in struggling schools. Head to http://turnaroundarts.pcah.gov/ for more details.