The girl, the giraffe and the koala

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A lifelong love of animals, a natural gift for drawing and chronic fatigue syndrome have combined to help Lucy Kendall launch her art business

Lucy Kendall in her Pimperne home studio.
All images: Courtenay Hitchcock

Many students leave college with good grades and plenty of ambition, but find it hard to get into their chosen field of work. Lucy Kendall is a rare exception – a teenager who has already launched her business and won an important local award.
Lucy, who lives in Pimperne, has developed a range of beautiful animal prints, cards and giftware and she also undertakes commissions to draw people’s pets. Her business really started with a giraffe – and a koala has helped her through the dark days of a prolonged and debilitating health condition.
From earliest childhood, Lucy loved drawing – and she was good at it. Turning 20 this year, Lucy still lives in the village where she was born, surrounded by animals – dogs, cats and horses. Her mother was a jockey who competed locally, including at point-to-points.
‘She’s also a cleaner and she used to take me to work with her when I was young, which meant I could interact with the animals, even on farms. I remember being taken up to feed the calves at Rawston Farm when I was really small, and I now have a Rawston Calf series!’
Lucy’s first pony, a tiny moorland called Thumbelina, lived at home, roaming around the garden and sometimes coming into the kitchen. She and her mother have two dogs and three cats – she has a close relationship with the dogs which keep her company on the studio sofa when she is drawing.
The business, which Lucy started when she was just 16, grew from her love of animals and art. Her mother, who has always encouraged her, came up with a deal during her exams – the more As and Bs Lucy got, the more she could earn – but if she slipped below a C she had to pay her mother.
The incentive worked, and Lucy passed all her exams with B or above, earning £850, which her mother paid over the course of a year.

Surveying The Savannah – the Dorset Art Prize winner 2021

With the onset of the pandemic and lockdown, Lucy started drawing animals in pencil and found that she was creating a perfect range for cards – she used the money she had earned from her exams to create a gift range featuring the pictures.
‘There was one drawing in particular that I fell in love with, my beloved Frankie the giraffe. I came up with names for all my drawings – and I went on to call my business Share a Little Frankie (before that it was just Lucy Kendall Fine Art.)
‘I focused my A level art practice on animal emotion,’ she says. She found that capturing the emotions and characters of her subjects helped to create a deeper connection with the viewer: ‘I wanted not only to display how beautiful these creatures are, but to convey their emotional power.’
She took an Art Foundation course at Ferndown Upper School, but with the onset of her illness and the diagnosis of ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS) she had to complete the course working from home. She still got to the final exhibition and received a Merit. Lucy considered going on to higher education – including the widely-respected course at Falmouth – but eventually decided that she would focus full-time on Share a Little Frankie.

Lucy welcomes commissions for pet portraits, but warns she is very busy – she is currently taking bookings from June to the end of the year

Lucy the entrepreneur
Frankie is very special – an inquiring gentle giraffe, who seems to be looking right into your eyes. It isn’t surprising that he is Lucy’s most popular print.
Another giraffe inspired Surveying the Savannah, one of the major pieces in her A level show. This beautiful drawing won the prestigious Dorset Art Prize in 2021.
As she began to develop her business, Lucy gained experience at Down the Steps art shop (now Kit & Kaboodle) in Shaftesbury, and had work experience with local artist Alison Board, who explained to her that running her business would be an important part of her life. ‘She was right – I will always be an artist first, but I have had to become an entrepreneur second.’

The popular Share a Little Frankie UK-made travel mug, featuring Frankie the giraffe
Image: Lucy Kendall

Her driving instructor also gave valuable advice about the need to ‘capitalise on everything.’
As a very shy person, she found this a challenge, ‘but I have just kept pushing and pushing. I think I now see myself his way. You do need to be incredibly resilient.’
Taking his advice has worked – her driving instructor has now commissioned two portraits. Such is the realism of her drawing that when you first look at one of Lucy’s portraits, you could be forgiven for thinking they are photographs.
She is a self-confessed perfectionist – every hair, every marking, every bit of fur has been carefully placed there with her beloved graphite pencils.
‘I often get asked if they are photographs, but my artwork is not hyperrealism – it is conveying the personality, character and emotion of the subject. Photographs are great, but a drawing captures not only a moment but a memory and a feeling,’ she says. ‘I want my drawing to take the viewer back to the time when the original photo was taken.’

Lucy Kendall’s Carla the anxiety koala

Pet portraits and giftware
As well as the prints, including a limited edition of 25 of the Dorset Art Prize drawing, Lucy produces a wide range of giftware – cards, bags, bone china mugs, giclee prints, stationery and tea towels.
Some of her gift items are sold for charity – a Christmas card set raised money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, chosen because her father suffers from MS. She is very eco-conscious and also tries as far as possible to use local products. Her new range of slate coasters is being hand-made at a small business in Somerset, her paper goods are produced in Dorset, her prints are framed in Blandford and her giftware range is sold in a number of local shops, including 1855 in Sturminster Newton and the gift shop at Moors Valley. Lucy welcomes commissions for pet portraits, but warns she is very busy and has limited availability – she is currently taking bookings from June to the end of the year.
Lucy is excited about the new British Countryside range, inspired by the Dorset wildlife she knows and loves, which is being launched shortly. Some of the originals have already been sold and further designs will be added during the year.

Lucy Kendall with her hardworking studio assistants

My anxiety koala
If you were wondering about the koala in the headline, it has been an important companion throughout Lucy’s gradual but steady recovery from CFS. Lucy calls her ‘my anxiety koala, Carla.’
She made the exquisite drawing over the course of 18 months, starting during her A level exams: ‘to help me to relax and de-stress. I have dipped in and out of the drawing until I finished her recently.’
Lucy uses her intensive drawing method to ‘get lost in the detail and have a breather from the stresses of every day.’
Carla the koala is available in a limited edition of 25, but is also being sold as a giclee print, with 10 per cent of the proceeds going to the mental health charity Dorset Mind.
Lucy has worked very hard to achieve so much while still in her teens, but she also has a sense of being very lucky. She says: ‘I’ve grown up watching my mum work so hard at a job she is good at, but which really doesn’t excite her. I adore my art and running my own business and I am prepared to make it a success – CFS or no CFS. I know I’m fortunate to have had so much support from my family, my friends and the local community.’
Developing her business – while recovering from such a debilitating health condition – has been difficult, ‘but it has given me so many skills I wouldn’t have had otherwise,’ she says.
‘And I have had so much fun.’

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