Talented artist and mother Caitlin Connolly has a unique style of art that beautifully illustrates her testimony of the gospel. We recently sat down with her to find out how she balances being a mother and an artist, what inspires her paintings, and how her art and spirituality are connected.
What subjects do you most enjoy painting?
I love painting women. The majority of my paintings depict women, either in solitude, in groups, in motherhood, or in relationships. I love painting figurative artwork to explore the human experience and I use the woman most frequently to explore that experience.
What have you been working on lately?
This year I have finished some paintings I really enjoyed. One painting was the largest one I have finished to date, about 11' tall. It was a painting of ancestry and eternal families which I called In Their Image. There were two characters up top that could represent a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, Adam or Eve, or a mortal couple in eternity. As the painting descends from the two figures, thousands of shapes and figures emerged from them and around them in the heavens, symbolic of posterity and the eternal nature of life beyond mortality. It was such an exciting painting to create! I am currently working on sleeping a lot because I am now pregnant and expecting twins. I was finishing this massive painting and pondering on Heavenly Mother and the beauty of motherhood at the same time I was able to get pregnant after years of infertility. The coinciding of these two experiences was a very beautiful and powerful experience for me and I feel very grateful for it.
What is one message you hope your viewers take away from your art?
I love when people are able to view my paintings and share with me what emotions or thoughts they are experiencing. Sometimes it is very similar to the experiences I had while working on the image and most times they share something unexpected that adds new insight for me to the possibilities within the image. I think really wonderful works of art leave room for interpretation and growth over time, and I love it when I or others have that experience.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Paint for yourself. Only paint things you would hang in your own house.
What’s your favorite scripture story?
I love the story about the brother of Jared from Ether. I am constantly revisiting that story to understand how to use my agency, have faith, trust in the Lord, and make decisions.
What role does art and music play in our spiritual development?
I think art and music educate our spiritual development in such a powerful way. The scriptures and the temple are so symbolic, leaving room for the individual to ponder and discuss. Likewise, art and music can also be very symbolic and poetic and encourage curiosity. I love Joseph Smith’s example to ask questions and seek wisdom and I have had powerful inquisitive experiences through both viewing and making art.
Lead image courtesy of Caitlin Connolly
Check out Caitlin Connolly’s work in McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spaulding’sOur Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families, available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com. Find her favorite painting, We Are All a Part of God’s Family, in the same locations.