De Forest calls art "one of the last strongholds of magic" and creates richly colored and textured fantasy worlds that he describes as "unknowable [though] hauntingly familiar." De Forest studied at the California School of Fine Arts from 1950 to 1952 and received his BA and MA degrees from San Francisco State College. In the early 1960s he turned from the scrap metal constructions and canvases depicting mazes and abstract patterns that had been his primary interest during the 1950s to paintings in which animals, totemic images, and fantastical beings are the vehicles for storytelling and game playing. De Forest considers himself "an eccentric individual creating fantasy art with the amazing intention of totally building a miniature cosmos into which the artful alchemist could retire with all his friends, animals and paraphernalia."
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)