The media calls her a “pint-sized Picasso,” but while Picasso created his first painting at age 9 and began exhibiting them at age 13, Autumn de Forest started her fine arts career even earlier. She began painting regularly at 5 years old (though she created her first painting, “Elephant” at age 4) and displayed her art in public for the first time when she was 6. “I was the only kid there,” she says of her first art exhibit at the Boulder City Art Festival in Nevada, where she won first place. “I was the only one who came and [left] in a baby seat.”

Fortunately, this child prodigy has had the ability to pursue her passion for painting without sacrificing her education because she attends the K12 online learning school, Nevada Virtual Academy. Her flexible education schedule allows her to travel extensively; as she can connect with her courses and teacher anywhere by accessing the Internet. This is an especially convenient aspect of online learning as she and her parents are doing a lot of traveling these days.

Now, at the remarkably mature age of 12, this student artist has sold her pieces for as much as $26,000 each, has her own website, and has been interviewed by NBC’s Today Show, The Discovery Channel, Inside Edition, The Wendy Williams Show and PBS.

In addition to her many media appearances, Autumn speaks to school children across the country, donates her artwork to charity events, and was the youngest artist ever to speak at the National Art Education Association’s annual convention. She was even invited to speak at Harvard University about arts in education when she was 10.

While much of her varied work shows a strong influence from well-known artists like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Vincent van Gogh, she has developed her own impressive painting techniques. One method, which she calls “pull painting,” involves placing two or more paint colors on one side of the canvas and running a wire over the paint to the other side of the canvas, creating swirls of complimentary colors. Autumn uses a variety of application techniques and canvases to create her art, which includes portraits, abstracts, Expressionism and Modern Surrealism.

With all her years of acclaim and success, Autumn still finds time to focus on her studies. She enjoys reading and says math and science are her favorite subjects. She recently agreed to be one the judges for K12‘s Annual Art Competition, which is currently underway through October 31st. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are encouraged to submit their artwork showcasing this year’s theme—heroes. It could be a portrait, a scene—anything that conveys a hero in their lives.

Is it time to awaken the creative genius in your child? Why not encourage him to use Autumn’s story as inspiration to create his own work of art and submit it to the K12 Art Competition? Autumn and seven other judges will choose a finalist from each grade level, and each grade winner will receive a canvas of their art, a recognition plaque and a new sketch book. Judges will also determine a “Best in Show” winner, who will receive a trophy, along with their own artwork on a canvas and a sketchbook. Students may submit their artwork to the contest by completing the online form. See samples of the impressive work submitted so far by viewing the student art gallery online.

“Anyone can do it,” says Autumn. “Anyone can be inspired.” Autumn says when she began painting it was because she enjoyed it, not because she wanted to become a child prodigy. And that is her message to kids today. “Just focus on how much you love it,” she suggests, “rather than how good you are.” Her advice could apply to anyone in any field of study, as often it is the passion that comes first, and then the ability.


Featured Image Credit – YouTube “Autumn de Forest


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