Claire Jane Kendrick is a local artist who lives in Vilano Beach and has a studio in St. Augustine. She specializes in plein air painting and is inspired daily by the natural beauty and landscapes of the First Coast and strives to capture that beauty in her artwork.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was born in Northern Ireland and have been in the U.S. for 18 years, becoming a U.S. citizen last year.
I worked in the fashion industry and for some prestigious names throughout Europe for years. I worked with runway shows and even pressed the outfits worn by Bono.
However, I decided in 2006 to go back to my fine arts roots, which I first discovered as a child, and that’s where I find myself today.
What was the transition to the fine arts world like?
It was a massive pivot for me in my life, and it was a risky decision, but I had my husband’s full support and we decided to give it a go.
I segued into the fine arts field seemingly overnight, and I got my first opportunity to show my work thanks to Worley Favor, who is a local potter, and his wife Dena, who allowed me to place my artwork in their gallery.
They were just great patrons of art, having been a part of that world themselves. I walked in off the street as a rookie, and they took a chance on me.
Worley appreciated that I had decided to shift careers and go into the fine arts, because he had done so as well.
I started with having three or four paintings on display, but soon I had a full wall in their gallery.
Not long after that, I met Anne Packard and really admired her work. She said one day that she would give me 15 minutes to critique my work, and we just hit it off.
Since then, she has always been there to be a mentor for me, and I credit all of them for helping create a massive shift that took place in my work.
I used to work on these big creative teams in the fashion industry, but I’ve found that even as an independent artist, you have to find that same type of structure but for yourself.
The galleries are so helpful in spreading the word, and I could not do it without them.
Is there a certain style of artwork you specialize in?
I work in a form called plein air painting, which is French for “outdoor painting.”
I’ve got a sketch book in the car at all times, because you never know when you’ll cross something that makes for a great subject to capture.
I’m known for doing large scale seascapes, landscapes and some botanicals and florals.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
You’re always developing your voice through your work and define who you are with your paintings.
Since then, I’ve gotten galleries that show my work all around, including ones in Naples, Fernandina Beach and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Plus, I have my little studio in St. Augustine that sits one block from the bay.
It is so rewarding to just stand there off to the side and watch people and their expressions when they first see my work. The work has to speak for itself and to the person looking at.
I’ve even spent time imagining the type of homes it would go in once sold, and how amazing it would look hanging in a room and adding to a person’s home.
Art is one of those things that can add such personality to a room.
Where do you get your ideas for your artwork from?
We are blessed to live in this idyllic part of the world and it’s all about capturing what’s around me.
I can get so many ideas just driving to my studio from Vilano Beach, where we have the marshes and then into St. Augustine where you’ve got the amazing seascape. It’s just so beautiful and there’s so much to capture.
I always take the coastal drive anytime I go up to my Fernandina Beach gallery, because the landscape is incorporated into my work like nothing else.