Have you heard the good news? Kendal Blanchard is the latest artist to join the Well + Wonder collective. Hooray! Kendal's debut collection will load onto our gallery walls Monday at 1 p.m. but until then we thought we should formally introduce this talented lady. Louisiana born artist Kendal Blanchard passion for creativity emerged early in life with the immense encouragement of her family. Having a love for both creativity and children, Kendal split her academic time in college in both the arts and education which eventually led her to a career in education. In this space she was able to fuel my love of working with children and help to shape who they will become. After a move across the Southeast and a family loss, she found myself seeking the therapeutic powers of expressing grief through art. Kendal Blanchard Fine Art unfolded organically during that season of life and launched her into full time creative ventures. Kendal loves to create classic subjects with a textured modern twist. Kendal currently lives with her husband and three daughters along Mobile Bay in Fairhope, AL. Keep reading to learn all about Kendal and join us Monday at 1 p.m. as we officially welcome her to Well + Wonder!

What is currently on your nightstand?

I use a console table for my nightstand and currently it lives a double life. In the daytime I have it styled for its close up with coffee table books, fresh flowers and small keepsakes that have special meaning to me.  At night the essentials come out. It becomes cluttered with my water cup, phone and charger, chapstick, sleeping mask and whatever book I’m currently reading.  

Who is your biggest influence as an artist and why?

I have a minor in art history so I could rattle off a long list of the greats as well as current artists whose work I admire, but if I focused purely on influence I would say my sister-in-law, Katie Harwell.  Katie is a high school art teacher and an ASID interior designer.  Whenever I am with her we have so much fun showing each other what we are working on and Katie always has the greatest suggestions on how to push my work further or mediums to try.  She is fearless when it comes to creating where sometimes I don’t want to take a risk in case I ruin something I like.  I have learned from her that it is in the risk taking that some of the greatest pieces are created. 

Tell us about your childhood. What is the most memorable moment as a young person?

I was so blessed to grow up in a family that enjoyed being together.  Family vacations, special holiday memories and Saturday night dance parties on the patio are such treasured memories for me.  My parents did an amazing job of showing their children unconditional love and support in both our triumphs and failures. Both my father and mother took time to pour into me and that has made such a lasting impression on me even today. 

If you could only have one supply in your art studio, what would it be and why?

Oh I am an over-thinker and this question has me going in circles. I guess I will say cold pressed water color paper because it can be the basis on which to create. 

What is your favorite room in your house? Describe it.

I have a sitting area at one end of my kitchen and its where I start and finish my day.  The windows behind it overlook our wooded property and while sitting there I‘m still in all the hustle and bustle of my family either getting ready in the morning or I can sit and relax while dinner is cooking.  Once my girls are out the door in the morning, I spend time there drinking my tea and getting my mind ready to tackle the day. 

What is your biggest score online?

I love to hunt for treasures online and I hit the jackpot one day when I found a Brighton chair with perfect caning for under $50. 

What is the benefit of buying art through a collective? What do you recommend for those that are new to buying original art?

Buying through a collective takes the intimidation factor out of selecting the perfect piece of art for your home.  You can have the confidence that what you are offered has been carefully and thoughtfully curated.  My biggest advice for those new to buying original art is to buy what you love and what you are drawn to.  If you love a piece, then it will work in your home, and you will love it always.  If you buy art only to match your wallpaper, then when you fall out of love with the wallpaper in 15 years chances are the art will go with it. 

If you have the entire day to spend in an art museum, which one and why?

I’d go to the Louvre. A basic answer but when I went to France when I was 22, the day I had allotted to spend at the Louvre it was closed, and I was leaving the very next day.  I need to go back and check it off my museum bingo card!

What is your favorite hotel and what makes it special?

The Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans is the most sentimental hotel for me.  On my last visit there we celebrated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and it was the last trip we took with my father before he passed away. 

If you were a lipstick color would you be red, pink, or clear and why?

I can have a full face of makeup on and if my lipstick is too darkI feel like I’m too made up, soI tend to stick with my tried-and-true coral pink lipstick.  I try to branch out but keep coming back to what feels comfortable.

I can never get on a plane without…

Dramamine! I’m president of the motion sickness club.

How did you get into the world of art?

From an early age I have always been creative and enjoyed making things.  As a child I expressed myself through craftiness and designing my own clothes.  My mother is a talented seamstress and allowed me to run wild with my ideas in choosing fabrics and embellishments.  Some designs were very questionable but now as a mother myself, I see how valuable it was for her to encourage my creativity. I always enjoyed drawing and coloring and received any talent I have from my father who was an artist and owned his own graphic design business.  I spent much of my childhood in his office watching him create and it only seemed natural to create myself.  I began to develop my artistic talent in high school through a very special art teacher and then went on to study graphic design in college.  It was then that I entered the world of painting.  I took a very long detour in my career and entered the world of elementary education but returned to creating and painting about five years ago when I was grieving the loss of my father.  It was his prompting that led me back to my first love and it is now a way that I can still feel connected to him. 

What do you do to relax?

I love to sit outside on a beautiful day and read a good book.  I don’t allow myself this luxury often because once I start a book I cannot put it down until I finish it and my family gets ignored.  We took a long weekend recently to the beach and I sat and listened to the waves and read an entire day.  It was heaven!

When do you get the biggest surge of inspiration?

Living on the gulf coast provides endless inspiration.  The natural wildlife and the many bays, rivers, deltas, and the turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico fill my soul and is a jumping off point for my collections. Many of my color schemes come directly from the world around where I live. I also draw much inspiration from interior design.  My mother has been a large influence on my own personal design style.  She exposed me to the design process through her own love of design and included me in making decisions about fabric choices, wallpaper, artwork, and selecting furniture.  We spent many weekends treasure and antique hunting.  As I got older, she valued my opinion in selecting furniture pieces saying that one day they would be mine, so I also needed to love them. My dream relaxing day is scouring design books with my cup of tea and my favorite candle lit.  With social media today one can have access to the countless amazing designer portfolios and endless inspiration.   

Prediction for the Color of 2024?

I think we will see a return to richer darker colors.  I myself am finding that I am drawn to the darker hues of my tried-and-true blues and greens, but most importantly I feel people should make color choices that spark an emotion with them.  You can’t go wrong then!

What is your idea of a date night? Dinner and a movie or dancing all night?

If my husband and I are choosing a date it will always revolve around a good meal.  We joke that our hobby is eating great food, and we also can rank our top meals we’ve experienced together.  Throw in a great cocktail and live music and that’s the recipe for our perfect evening together.  

One piece of advice for buying original art?

Buy the pieces that bring you joy or spark an emotion even if the piece is “out there.”  Those pieces will work in your home no matter the décor now or in the future because you love them.  Original art brings a home to life.  You can have a perfectly designed home with coordinated colors, wallpaper, and fabric but it’s the art that brings it to life and lets the personality of those who live in it shine through.