I will admit it: there is a kid in me that often times runs the show. She’s playful, doesn’t like rules, and revels in novelty. There is also an old soul in me that likes harmony, balance and predictability. When it comes to interior environments, kids spaces are typically designed to be stimulating and playful, and adult spaces typically aim to calm and relax us. The two projects I highlight this month bridge that gap. What would happen if you let your playful side come to the design table? How can a children’s room be both engaging and peaceful? Read on!
In August I traveled to San Diego to bring the living room of David Biddlecome under water. All things fishing made Dave happy, and it was celebrated throughout his house. He hung photos of his family on fishing trips to Baja, curated an amazing fish tank that was built into the architecture of the house, and had 3 large ceramic sport fish mounted on the walls. Dave has a sense of play that is completely intact. He cut a real boat in half and mounted it on the ceiling. The end of a fishing rod comes out of the painting and connects with fishing line to a life-sized marlin on the wall. He hired me to paint the ceiling as if you were looking up from under the ocean. His family is with him in the boat, enjoying another perfect day on the water. The result is unconventional and delightful.
David casting a line while his son looks down at the viewer in a snorkel mask.
I painted this four-wall safari mural for a toddler’s room in Atherton, CA. I aimed for the animals and composition to be gentle and inviting, despite having large game animals covering all four walls. I kept the colors palette natural, and the animals all look well fed and content.
A lion, some cubs having a wrestle, a honey badger, and elephants enjoying a shower at the water hole in the distance. I had to ponder a bit how to translate a herd of zebra grazing in the distance with the blunt tool of a paintbrush….
I created this busy transportation scene with lots of help from my four year old client. Using his favorite book as a springboard, we created a scene that includes the things that fascinate him most: travel, tickets, destinations, arrival, intersections, bridges, boats, tunnels and volcanoes. Oh, and there is a frog in there too! He asked for a rhino as well, but fortunately his mom nixed that one.
It is a busy scene, and so far not very restful since his mom reported he is spending his naptime chattering about the mural. Hopefully the peaceful stream and croaking frogs will win out and he will notice it is also designed to be restful!
I hope you enjoy your Halloween! It is great day of the year to let the kid in you be playful. Go delight some trick or treaters!
Over the past 5 years one of my clients (now good friend), Jill, has hired me for multiple mural projects throughout her house. In a bittersweet decision, she and her husband recently decided to sell their house in Los Altos and move to Hawaii.
Jill has made a lot of thoughtful customizations in the house for their young family. Between the improved workspace flow and the artwork on the walls, the house showed beautifully, and according to the realtor, made a positive impact on potential buyers. By the numerous offers for the house, many over the asking price, I would venture her unique customizations clearly resonated with potential new clients as well.
This goes against common belief, but why design generic spaces so that a house might be more sellable in the future? Customized, human centered spaces that are thoughtful and delightful might increase, not decrease broad appeal.
I am going to really miss having Jill close by. However, I am hoping Jill misses her murals so much she decides to bring me to Hawaii to paint a mural in their new house!
There is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
– T.S. Elliot
When I visited San Diego for the Gone Fishin’ mural my good friends Ted and Coleen hosted me. It was a delight to stay in their 70’s era “Silver Ship”- a round architectural wonder perched on the cliffs of La Jolla Shores.
I met Ted back when I was an IT Administrator and he was a longtime house painter. Though I did not realize it at the time, it was painting alongside Ted that led to my switching career paths. We spent many Saturdays experimenting in wall design as a shared hobby: mixing non-toxic milk paints, using stencil patterns to create textures in plaster, testing out new venetian plasters, and visiting design shows.
One day when he was working on cabinet glazes at a beautiful estate in Rancho Santa Fe, he invited me to come out and watch the other artisans on the job. I met a mural artist there, painting the whole family on Harleys in a desert scene. It blew me away. I took note of his setup and his technique. I got butterflies studying his 50-odd brushes laid out on his table, how he mixed many colors on his brush at once, his speed and comfort with his brushes, his joy at his labor… It was not long after that I decided to switch careers.
I don’t think I would have found my dream job painting murals if Ted had not crossed my path. I am so fortunate that Ted spent the time to teach me basic painting skills, shared his interest in materials and new possibilties with paint, and supported me as a friend as I reinvented myself as a mural artist. Thank you, Ted!
Morgan Bricca is a mural artist living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her clients run the gamut from professional creatives, including architects and designers to building owners, school administrators and community advocates. When she is not making art, Morgan enjoys sipping boba tea with her kids and taking naps on the couch.