Life as I Know It: Growing Up an Artist’s Daughter

My father, Jim Connelly, is a professional artist, and he recently launched his new website, In honor of the event, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about growing up as an artist’s daughter.

The Early Years

My dad doesn’t have a favorite color and never will. This was of utmost frustration as children when my siblings or I desired to make our dad construction paper cards.

“What’s your favorite color, Dad?” we’d ask, wanting to know which color of paper to choose for him.

“Well, it all depends on what’s next to the color. I can’t choose a favorite color without knowing what’s next to it…. colors look different in comparison to other colors, you know.”

We did know, because we had already heard it thirty-seven times. So much for having a dad who likes blue!

Out to Lunch

It’s a classic scene: a family at a local diner, the five-year-old drawing with Crayola crayons on the child menu, her parents admiring the juvenile work.

Not so for me. While I was busy drawing smiley-faces and flowers, my father would stare me down from across the table and sketch my portrait in five minutes flat. Nothing like being one-upped by your dad at Arnie’s!

Next Top Model

One of the most fun things about being an artist’s daughter is that every so often he’ll ask you to model for him. He’ll also ask all your relatives, giving insight into various family members.

My dad captured me well at a young age and I have to admit I haven’t changed a lot since!

Anna story
© Jim Connelly

Here are my siblings and I meeting Jesus, who I found out was a man who went to our church.

© Jim Connelly
© Jim Connelly

I never knew Mom and Dad lived such an exciting life before the kids came along.

© Jim Connelly
© Jim Connelly

Hmmm… the couple in American Gothic looks mysteriously like my aunt and uncle…

© Jim Connelly
© Jim Connelly

I don’t even want to know which relative modeled for this picture!

© Jim Connelly
© Jim Connelly

Back to School

Not every kid’s father got asked to give a classroom presentation in elementary school, but mine was almost every year. What’s cooler than having an artist for a dad? Not much when you’re in third grade.

Of course, having an artist father wasn’t always fun and games. Take the annual science fair project, for instance. It was the same story every year. My dad had, what he thought was, the best science fair project idea ever.

“You should do a project comparing colors next to other colors, and how they can look different!” he’d tell us.

By now us kids had heard that fact about 359 times, and we weren’t that interested in delving into the reasoning behind it. One year, though, my sister caved in to humor Dad, who only became more passionate about the idea.

Poor Shannon. That was the same year her best friend, Abby, did a project entitled, “What happens to blueberry muffins when you take out the blueberries?” Lucky Abby… I bet her father wasn’t an artist!

What art? Oh, that art!

You know you live with an artist when the walls of your home are decked out in oil paintings. Since Dad has specialized in western fine art for the past twelve years, our family is surrounded by bulls, horses, and the like. I watch television with cowboys, eat dinner in front of a rooster, and when I’m on the elliptical machine, an Indian chief keeps an eye on my every move.

After coming to my house for violin lessons for several months, one of my students finally asked me, “So… why are there so many horses all over your house?”

At first I didn’t know what she meant, until I saw her eyes fixated on a picture of a bucking bronco. I guess that is kind of strange when you’re a ten-year-old living in the Midwest!

All in all, I think it’s pretty awesome to have a professional artist as my dad and I have learned so much from his talent, creativity, and work ethic. I am also blessed to have the beginnings of my own personal fine art collection… something not many twenty-six-year-olds can boast! Below is my favorite painting, a gift my dad gave me for my high school graduation. And don’t forget to check out, my dad’s new website, as it has many more beautiful pieces you’ll love!

© Jim Connelly
© Jim Connelly

All images © Jim Connelly. The images on this post are not to be reproduced in any way without written consent.

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