Sometimes just seeing a piece of artwork can change a life. That was how an elementary-school-aged Kendal Kendrick felt when she saw one particular painting in one particular gallery.
“My grandfather collected Asian art, so I would go out looking for things that he might be interested in,” says the Vancouver-born artist. “On one of those journeys, I happened upon a gallery in an outdoor mall, and I came across a painting that I fell in love with.”
“I resonated with its beauty – a feeling of alive peacefulness.” The painting stuck with her, and though she was a young girl, and couldn’t purchase the piece for herself, she saved and treasured the gallery brochure.
“I kept this brochure from this artist for years and years.”
Looking back at that chance encounter in the gallery and the power of that single painting, it seems like a small spark that began a life of creativity. But stories are never that simple, and parental encouragement also played a role. One particular moment from Kendal’s first year at Queen’s University stands out:
“My parents sent me a care package full of art supplies, knowing that I was homesick,” she says. “They were saying, maybe this will make you feel better.”
In her dorm room, with her care package of paints, she says that the brochure “was one of the first things I sat down and looked at. I brought it back out and said – I would love to be able to do what this person does.” Art became “an act of refuge” for the west coast artist.
In reflection, falling in love with that painting was a beacon, calling the young artist to a career that would be a positive and challenging force in her life.
But though things are clear in hindsight, being an artist wasn’t always on the horizon.
“I didn’t think art was a career when I was young,” she says, adding that any advice at school focused on typical professional jobs like becoming a doctor, lawyer, or business person. After studying commerce and baking, and working in an art auction house, Kendal says she “always came back to creating.”
“I realized I had no option but to pursue this, because it was my passion.”
The painter’s works contrast the tranquility and yet “ceaseless energy” of simple moments. Boats, shorelines, and forests are among the subject matter. The artist has donated her work to Arts Umbrella’s Splash auction and gala since 2013, and at Splash 2016, her piece Vivid is a marine snapshot where the water reflection carefully reveals a boat dressed in signal flags while docked near the Granville Street Bridge.
“I think that it’s such a beautiful cause,” she says of Splash. “I love that [Arts Umbrella] gives the opportunity to kids that wouldn’t otherwise have this creative outlet. I wish that I’d had more exposure at a young age.”
Kendal’s perspective comes with a strong sense of purpose, that everything that happens could not have been otherwise, and she says her “art practice came into my life at the exact time I was ready for it.”
Though her journey is her own (“for me it was necessary,” she says), she also hopes through supporting arts for kids, young people “will not have to go through a life phase of separating from their innate playful creativity.”