Caylee Murdock: Beauty for Ashes

It was a global pandemic that finally helped artist Caylee Murdock turn her passion for art into a budding business and with it, her fear into faith. Caylee, one of seven featured artists in our SALT Summit, shares about how painting two pictures of the Savior, one of which is featured in the SALT Summit Workbook, bolstered her faith during the past year of global hardships.

  • Where are you from?
  • I was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. I met and married my husband, Aaron, in Canada in 2007. We have three wonderful daughters, ages 7, 5, and 3 – they consume us! We both worked; I was a dental hygienist and my husband worked in the oilfield for about 10 years. However, we decided we needed a change. We moved down to Utah for my husband to go back to school. He has since graduated and we have recently moved to Washington for his Job. (Although Washington is very beautiful, I miss Utah desperately!)

  • When did you first want to become an artist?
  • I have always loved Art in all of its varied and wonderful forms. My plan initially, many years ago was to become a dental hygienist, (to pay the bills) and then eventually take night classes to get my art degree. Well working as a hygienist, being married, and having kiddos turns out to be pretty time consuming! So, my art aspirations were put on the back burner. It wasn’t until just recently, this past spring, I had a little more time on my hands, and encouragement from friends, that I picked it up again.

    I am so glad that I did! This process has definitely helped me feel closer to Christ. The two portraits I have done of Christ so far, was actually during the initial shock of COVID-19. It was horrific watching the news every night of Italy and the tragedies they were facing. Every morning we would wake up, check our phones for the new case counts, and ‘assess the damage.’ It was overwhelming. I remember just crying on the phone to my sister because I was so overwhelmed at all of the loss and suffering. I have since found more peace. I actually think turning to Christ through my art at that time played a pivotal part in that. It was healing. It helped me change my focus from fear to faith. It helped me remember God is at the helm, and we need only trust in Him. 

  • How does the creative process help you feel close to God?
  • When I paint religious content, it is a very spiritual process for me, as I am confident it is for other religious artists. I always start and end with a prayer and have a prayer in my heart. I listen to gospel centered music and try to make the environment as spirit-filled as possible. I pray that I, and my art, can be instruments in Heavenly Father's hands. It is a transcending process that helps me feel Christ near and I am so eternally grateful to experience it. 

  • What do you hope for the people who see your art?
  • When I pray about my art, I don’t pray for it to be beautiful! I actually always pray that people will be able to feel closer to the Savior through my art. Growing up we always had the classic Del Parson portrait of Christ all over our home. I loved it! It helped me visualize the Savior as a reality. It was a great strength to my testimony and feeling Christ closer to me. 

    That is what I pray for with my art, it is my ultimate deep desire. I want people to experience what I experienced growing up. I want them to feel through my art, the reality of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, their power, and majesty but also their individual concern and sincere love they have for us. 

    I feel all art has a spirit behind it. Through art, especially religious art, I have felt the Holy Ghost, the Godhead communicate to me. It can inspire, bring peace and hope, give courage and strength, and help us feel God communicating to us. I believe this, I have felt this! This is my ultimate hope and prayer my art can do for others. 

  • How do you think someone can come to Hear Him through your artwork?
  • I served a mission on Temple Square in SLC (many years ago!) I loved every minute of it. Temple Square is one of my favourite places on this planet. It is a peaceful oasis, and it was such an honour to be a missionary and serve our God there. 

    Temple Square is so rich in spirit-filled art. I was in heaven! One of my favourite parts of my mission was watching and hearing people from all over the world, and from all different theologies experience and explain, in their own words, the influence of the Holy Ghost they were feeling as they toured the grounds. It was humbling to witness people from all nations and religious backgrounds feel the reverence and power of the Christus Statue. To describe the chills and peace they felt as they heard the angels from the Tabernacle Choir sing testimony. To see them react with hushed reverence to the sacred art and tangible ambience of the conference center. 

    I have witnessed people “Hear Him,” God’s only begotten Son, speak to them through these powerful and yet varied modalities of art. Art in all of its varied forms carries a spirit and a message and can draw us closer to our Creator. I can only hope and pray, I, and my art, can be instruments in God’s hands, in His symphony, to draw people to Him, and to hear His son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. 

  • What’s next for you?
  • What’s next for me!? Laundry, diapers, homeschool…surviving! HA! That’s what it feels like some days! My art and the process of creating has been such an oasis for me. I have wise friends who are also mothers trying to survive and on good days thrive, that always encourage me to find time to create! 

    It has been a huge blessing in my life, as of late, to turn to creating to feel joy and a new closeness to Christ. I hope to carve out more of these experiences on a regular basis. I pray only to do God's will and be an instrument in His Hands, in whatever adventure or avenue that may be in my future! 

    In the meantime, and always, I am so very blessed to be a mother to three wonderful daughters and a wife to the best man on the planet. I am so happy to go through life with them and am happy to go, to be and to do whatever God has in store for us!


    Register today at www.saltgathering.com for tickets to the SALT Summit, where we will be featuring Caylee’s painting, “Advocate” in our Summit workbook.

    You can see more of Caylee’s work on Instagram @cayleemurdockart and on her Etsy shop.

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