The Improper Bostonian: Strokes of Genius

Thirteen-year-old Autumn de Forest has sold millions of dollars’ worth of her artwork since she started painting at age 5. We chatted with the talented teenager, who visits Boston on Feb. 27 for a presentation and auction of her work at the Ritz-Carlton—and, she hopes, a trip to the ICA.

 One day I stepped out into the garage and saw my father staining some wood, and I asked him if I could mess around. I wasn’t very concerned with making it into this huge, beautiful masterpiece. I was just having fun and expressing myself. My father turned around, and he was really surprised. And I didn’t know quite what he was surprised about. He said it looked like a Rothko. I had no idea what such a thing was then, but I sure do now.

Oh, wow. I have so many favorite artists. Van Gogh, Bob Dylan—he did some artwork that I love—Georgia O’Keeffe, Salvador Dali, Grant Wood, Chuck Close, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning. It just goes on and on. It’s different for each style of painting, and I love each one because they can be so different but so beautiful at the same time.

 Of course painting is my career and my life, but I love archery and playing with my standard poodle. I love reading; I just finished The Metamorphosis. I love being able to go into another world, and sometimes that can inspire me for another painting.

 I personally think there are many, many ways that art can make this world a better place. For example, inspiring people. Quite honestly, I don’t paint much more than some kids play video games. Just taking 30 minutes to set that down and be creative…. Don’t worry about how good you are; focus on how much you love it.