rebelling against low expectations

Autumn de Forest, Age 14: Millionaire Art Prodigy


(CNBC) – 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.

Keep reading here.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

There are currently __ Comment(s)

Photo courtesy of CNBC.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

News Stories

are about young people just like you who are defying low expectations, solving problems, doing good, and changing the world one hard thing at a time. To send us a story, email [email protected].


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    • We can praise God by learning the violin just as much as she can with painting million dollar masterpieces! I know that sounds cheesy, but seriously. It’s not about what you’re doing so much as how you’re doing it. Sure, this kid is amazing, but if she’s using her gifts for herself and not for the glory of God, then is she really doing better than we are? God is more pleased with our pathetic attempts when we do them for him than he is with someone who has amazing talent but forgets to thank the One who gave them the talent. I don’t know about whether this girl gives God credit for her gifts or not, but regardless, my point is simply that it’s something to think about. Sorry if I’m too ridiculously serious 😉

      Matthew 16:26
      For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

      1 Corinthians 10:31
      So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

      • What you are saying is judgemental nonsense – you have no idea what that young lady thinks or does every day. For all you know she has a prayer in her heart every morning when she wakes up and every time she picks up a paintbrush. The Pope felt moved to acknowledge her obviously good heart and fine gifts at the Vatican so perhaps you should get back to work on your own relationship with the divine and stop using your voice to criticize a caring young person who has done absolutely nothing to harm you in any way, shape or form.

        You have ably demonstrated exactly the kind of holier-than-thou assumptions that turns people away from self proclaimed “righteous people” in churches and other religous institutions..

    • It’s all relative – I wish I could play anything on a violin, all I do is write poetry. : ) See? it is all good. Keep working at what you are doing because out of the training and craft, art will blossom and you give a lot of joy to others and meaning to your life when you create music. Isn’t it cool that you can recreate sounds and beauty that other people also enjoyed decades and even centuries ago? It is a link with the past and with humanity that is almost like time travel.

  • Very interesting(and surprising). Didn’t think anyone could do anything like that(kind of sounds impossible, but it’s not). She reminds me of Wolfgang Mozart, who was 4(something like that) and wrote his first song.

    Literally amazing how God can use young children to do extraordinary things, that seem impossible to adults.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →