Teen’s artwork on Maine landmark draws raves

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YORK, Maine – A rose placed in front of the Nubble Lighthouse – to 16-year-old Owen Clark – represents life and death, as well as the end of love.

Now, Clark’s drawing will be on sale at Nubble Lighthouse Gift Shop and Whispering Sands Gift Shop this summer. He gained attention after appearing on the cover of his father’s children’s book ‘Nubble Lighthouse is special to me because’ last year. Clark has since sold numerous prints online and is thrilled to see the design hit retail store shelves, signifying growth in his young career as an illustrator.

“I feel excited and can’t wait to see what happens,” Clark said.

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His father, Jody Clark, said he was eager to give his son a platform through his books, for which he spent several years building a following online. The father-son duo released their first children’s book “York Beach Through the Eyes of a Child” two years ago.

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Express yourself through art

Clark has been drawing since he could walk, he says, and over time has branched out into music, writing and film. He also posted a short film titled “Death’s Library” on YouTube this week, based on a short story he previously published in “Epoch” magazine. He created the music and edited the film himself.

At school, where many children are interested in sports, he says he finds his identity in his art. He has been outspoken about the bullying, having posted an open letter on Facebook to his classmates about how the cruel words and ostracism made him consider suicide. The letter went viral and Clark was interviewed on NBC’s Maine News Center Maine affiliate.

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Clark said his works helped him discover his own courage and self-reliance.

“I’m really in the corner of the class concentrating on drawing,” Clark said. “I feel like my art definitely reflects what I’m feeling or what inspires me at that moment.”

John and Jan Ferry of Portland visit Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick, Maine on Monday, March 1, 2021.

The meaning behind the rose

Roses like the one in his drawing are central to Clark’s artistic identity. He hides roses in several of his drawings, and he also decorates his room with roses.

“That’s the beauty in them,” Clark said. “They are delicate, but they also have thorns.”

Clark’s drawing of the Nubble was originally a photo he took. He added the rose when he did the illustration.

Marshwood High School student Owen Clark got his start in illustration by selling his drawing of the Nubble Lighthouse to local gift shops.

When his father’s book containing the drawing was published, his father said he had received requests for prints of the drawing. The rose, he said, seemed to be at the heart of people’s interest. Many have equated it with the memory of their deceased loved ones.

“So many people contacted me about her drawing, and they had their own stories. ‘It reminds me of my grandmother’s ashes at the Nubble, we always come and lay a rose,'” Clark’s father said. “That’s when they started asking me, ‘Would you sell prints of this drawing?'”

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The number of requests piled up until this year when they decided it was time to sell the design online. They have since added canvas upon request and recently sold four pieces of canvas for $200 to a buyer. Orders have been placed with the Nubble Lighthouse gift shop as well as Whispering Sands in York Beach.

From left, Jody, Owen and Erica Clark are seen in front of the Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick in the town of York, Maine.

Clark’s father, Jody, said it was not easy to find an original version of the Nubble given its ubiquity in local artwork.

“There are a million drawings of the Nubble,” said Jody Clark. He is inspired by his son’s ambition and talent and can’t wait to see where it will take him.

“Whether it’s his art, his music, whatever he’s done, the number of people who see him and comment on him,” Jody Clark said, “it’s pretty mind-blowing.”

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