CAPE ELIZABETH — With talent described as “well beyond his years,” 15-year-old Devan Newell was selected to paint the cover of the brochure for the Fort Williams Park Foundation’s 8th annual Garden Tour.
It was a first for the foundation, which previously commissioned professionals to design the tickets and brochures.
After dedicating a year of work to the park’s Cliff Walk Landscape, including removing invasives, and planting and preserving native plants along the multi-acre trail and scenic outlook, the foundation wanted something special to commemorate this year’s tour, which was held last weekend.
It reached out to the high school art department, where teachers recommended Newell, a freshman at the time, for the job.
“Being able to capture the park in a way that others could enjoy was such an honor,” Newell said in a July 16 interview.
He worked with graphic designer Tracy Burke on the painting’s design.
“I worked with her and her ideas, but she also let me have creative freedom with the piece,” Newell said. “I got to experiment with it as well. … Working with (Tracy) and seeing my ideas come to life was really fun.”
He painted the scene, which depicts the “minimalist beauty” of the Portland Head Light from the Cliff Walk in three pieces, which Burke then assembled.
“Devan was a pleasure to work with,” Burke said in a prepared statement. “He took direction well, adding his own artistic details to enhance the composition.”
Newell said he’s been honing his artistic ability and building on his craft since he was a child.
Since sixth grade he’s been taking classes at the Maine College of Art, most recently one called Painting Portland, where students paint en plein air – outdoors, in the open – throughout the city.
“(MECA) is a gem for me to have,” he said.
This summer, Newell is continuing an internship with local artist Annie Darling, with whom he’s been working for about a year.
“It’s been a great opportunity for me,” Newell said. “She definitely shows me the business side of being an artist, which is interesting to see.”
Newell lives next to Broad Cove Beach and, although he’s lived in Cape Elizabeth his entire life, he admitted he only recently began utilizing its scenery as the subject of his work.
“I have all this beautiful landscape around me,” he said. “I’ve lived in Cape my whole life and I’ve never really captured it, which I realized while working on the piece … It was really fun to finally take advantage of the beauty of my town.”
Even though he is only a rising sophomore, Newell has already been thinking about what he’d like to do after high school. He said he imagines himself pursuing a career in interior design, while continuing to paint and draw on the side.
For now, he is focusing on enjoying his summer classes, internship and painting in his free time, which he tries to do every day.
“You do what you love,” he said. “Art is something I’ve clicked with since the beginning. … If it’s something I like doing and am good at, I’m going to tackle it.”
Cape Elizabeth’s Devan Newell, 15, was selected by the Fort Williams Park Foundation to create the painting used for the brochure and tickets for this year’s Garden Tour.
Devan Newell designed and created the piece in collaboration with Cape Elizabeth graphic designer Tracy Burke.