An Interview with Child Prodigy Autumn de Forest
Below is an interview with Autumn de Forest by freelance writer, Bailey Powell.
Autumn de Forest: Hello, this is Autumn de Forest.
Bailey Powell: Hi Autumn, my name’s Bailey. I’m calling from Fort Worth Key Magazine. How are you?
ADF: Very good and refreshed.
BP: So you’re on a little break right now then.
ADF: Yes, but I’m finishing up with school and am reviewing some things for the next year.
BP: How do you balance school and painting?
ADF: Look, school always comes first. Because I’m home schooled I paint about three hours every day on a school day, but more on the weekends. So I have to get a lot of schoolwork done, but I always get it done and do the best I can and then I paint a bunch. I love painting. It’s my career and it’s my passion.
BP: Do you stick to a very strict schedule? Do you do school in the morning and paint in the afternoon or vice versa or…?
ADF: You know what, usually it’s do a bunch of school work and then time for painting. At the end of the day, about five, if I get a lot done I get some exercise and a little playtime.
BP: Are you eleven?
ADF: When I do the show it’s going to be a week before my birthday. I’m going to be eleven on October 27th.
BP: Your show’s in Dallas and I’ve seen that you’re doing a future show in Fort Worth. Have you ever been to Texas?
ADF: No I haven’t. I’m very excited to be there. Actually one of my tutors grew up in Texas and that’s the only relationship I have. I’m sure it’s going to be very fun.
BP: Do you have any plans to do anything in Texas whenever you have some time off?
ADF: Whenever I have a show somewhere my dad and I always go to the town candy store and grab a bunch of candy. That’s a really good memory I have. Maybe that could be a treat, but I really don’t know what’s in that area.
BP: What’s your favorite candy?
ADF: My favorite candy, ooh. Well, I don’t eat candy a lot but probably mints or gummies or licorice, or something like that. Good & Plenty.
BP: That’s old school! Are you an only child?
ADF: Yes I am. I have no siblings.
BP: What’s your first memory of painting?
ADF: What really happened was one day in my late five I went out and I found my dad in the garage staining some wood because sometimes he makes furniture for the house. I said, “Could I experiment a little bit?” and he said sure so I experimented and I realized that it’s so fun! You can express yourself, you can use your imagination, and in just that little time I wanted to change the world for the better. After that wonderful experience I thought, how about painting?
BP: So where do you draw your inspiration from?
ADF: I can be inspired by anything. It can be from an artist, I love Georgia O’Keefe, de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Lichtenstein, Koons- I love them all. I can be inspired by an artist, a dream, something that I pass by, I was even inspired by a commercial! A commercial of whale war- I was so sad that people were killing whales to extinction, so I made a painting of that. So I can really be inspired by a lot of things.
BP: All the artists you listed off I didn’t learn about until I was in art school in college. Do you think that you might go to university? Because you obviously have a very unique situation.
ADF: Well, yes. I don’t take lessons in art. It all comes from the heart, and sure I’d love to study art! In school I come across one thing I do and I want to study that in college. I love history, I love science, I love art, I love grammar, I love literature! I just finished up reading Hounds of Baskerville. Have you heard of that book?
BP: I haven’t. What’s it about?
ADF: It’s Sherlock Holmes. I’m inspired from school to do some artwork.
BP: As someone who’s ten, about to be eleven would that put you in fifth grade?
ADF: Yes, I’m going into fifth grade. Even though I’m home schooled I play with my friends a lot, I have a big huge group of friends I go to play dates with, I go to movies, lunch, every weekend we go play together and it’s a really fun way to see my friends. I love that and I do well in school. I’m an A student, but I really try to do my best.
BP: What are your friends like? Are they artists as well?
ADF: I really don’t tell them about my art. I love them for who they are and love playing with them. I don’t really talk about my art a lot.
BP: Do they know that that’s what you do?
ADF: Oh yes. They know that I do that for a profession.
BP: What do you like to do when you’re not painting, besides hang out with your friends?
ADF: I have a standard poodle named Ginger. I love playing with her, she’s the sweetest little thing. I have corn snakes that I really love… I have pets. I love playing with my animals, I love to read, I do a lot of that. I do horseback riding lessons. I kind of took a little break this summer because it was getting super hot, but my horseback riding lessons go on in the fall and winter. I have a little boxer bag. I love boxing…
BP: You box?
ADF: Well I just have a little thing that I exercise with.
BP: So basically you can beat up everybody?
ADF: (laughing) I don’t know about that! At least I know how to defend myself.
BP: You’re a great example for other girls to learn that. Is there something you like to listen to while you paint? Favorite music?
ADF: Usually when I’m painting something it takes a lot of focus. I have this room I go into called the white room. In my imagination when I’m really focused I go into that white room and all that’s there is me, my painting, and my tools. There’s no distraction. When I’m really concentrated I like to have it silent but when I’m doing something that doesn’t have to be necessarily perfect, I can just go for it… have you heard of NPR?
BP: Yeah, sure.
ADF: There’s this radio show called Car Talk, it’s really, really hilarious. It’s about these two old guys who answer people’s questions about cars. Have you heard of it?
BP: I haven’t heard of that particular show, no.
ADF: It’s on Saturday and Sunday, and I can listen to that or I can record it. It’s fun because I absolutely love to laugh. I really love that and actually right now I’m working on a cowboy series. I have a side of me that’s a tomboy, I’m a freak about Star Wars, I can be very rough and tumble, yes I can be a girly girl, but these paintings, especially the dripping cowboy hat which is going to be [at the show], represent my tomboy side and my adventurous side.
BP: Is paint your favorite medium?
ADF: Yes I do acrylic paint, oil paint, and caustic. Caustic is melted wax. It really depends on the painting, what vibe I’m looking for. That’s really what matters.
BP: I saw your American Girl painting. Is that Molly?
ADF: No that’s my look alike.
BP: Have you been to the American Girl store in Chicago or on 5th Avenue in New York?
ADF: I’ve been to the store in New York and L.A.
BP: There’s one in Dallas, too.
ADF: Really? I will bring my American Girl then!
BP: So besides Star Wars do you have any other favorite movies?
ADF: Sure. I love the old movies. I’ve never seen a Hannah Montana. I love the old-fashioned movies. Are you talking about new movies?
BP: No, in general.
ADF: I love I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I mean all the old-fashioned… if you want to know the truth I don’t have a crush like other girls on Justin Bieber or anything. My crush is Ewan McGregor. He was in Star Wars and my favorite movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
BP: Do you think your career will always be painting or are there other paths you’re interested in pursuing?
ADF: Well painting is certainly my main thing. I will keep doing that for the rest of my life, but if I become famous I would maybe like to experiment with acting, or I have a good voice so maybe a little bit of singing. I’m going to take singing lessons, so who knows.
BP: I think you’re modest. I think you’re already famous. How did you get discovered? How did people start buying your things?
ADF: I heard there was this Art in the Park show in Boulder City, a little town in Nevada, and I wanted to experiment with it. I’ve always felt comfortable talking to adults, so I just started doing that little Art in the Park thing and people started to notice me.
BP: That’s so cool. You are very much so an old soul and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was talking with you. You’re like a little adult.
ADF: Thank you. You kind of hit the nail on the head. I’m a throwback.
BP: You’re so interesting and it’s been such a delight to talk to you. Thank you so much for taking the time. Good luck with your show and have fun in Texas!