From sun-drenched Tuscan hillsides to playful penguins swimming alongside colorful fish, Los Altos muralist Morgan Bricca has been transforming blank walls into works of art in private homes throughout the Bay Area for nearly two decades.
Murals are a great way to create a particular mood and fill an otherwise blank space without having to reconfigure your walls, says Bricca, who has created more than 350 one-of-a-kind murals in the halls, basements, bedrooms, bathrooms and ceilings of local residences.
“There’s a vibrancy in a (real work of art) that you just do not get in a printout,” Bricca says. “The other thing is you can customize a mural and make it unique to fit that space.”
About half of her commissioned work is for residential clients; the other is for commercial spaces like restaurants, tech companies and schools. Her work can be seen on walls at the Los Altos Community Center, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, Oak and Springer schools in Los Altos and Palo Alto’s California Avenue tunnel, where she restored the original “Year of the Ocean” mural in 2017.
Bricca says landscapes, beaches and other scenes that brighten or expand the confines of a room are popular.
“A lot of people hire me (to create) peaceful things,” she says.
Once, a client who had recently downsized from her large home told Bricca that she missed her old backyard, which held fond family memories. Working from photographs of the woman’s backyard, Bricca painted a scene that incorporated the swimming pool – complete with cavorting grandchildren.
Bricca believes people have become more aware of their wall space since having to Zoom from home during the pandemic. In her own home, Bricca says she painted an agate rock mural on a blank wall in her son’s former bedroom, which got plenty of use as an “escape room” from the monotony and clutter of her other well-worn personal spaces, according to a blog on her website.
Bricca says a typical mural project takes about three days to complete, depending on the size and detail of the piece. Full-wall murals are priced per square foot, and smaller murals start at $7,500.
Coming up with ideas for murals is no challenge for Bricca. The most important factor, she says, is being able to connect with clients so that she understands how they want the space to feel, and they understand how she is going to accomplish that.
She usually asks clients if there is a favorite vacation spot or a honeymoon locale that they would enjoy looking at. She looks around their home and sees what they cherish and what colors they like.
“We have conversations about what makes them feel good. Then we talk about the images – what kind of colors and style and imagery. I have the same conversations when I work with kids. … Their answer is going to tell me a lot,” she says.
Bricca says whether she is recreating a scene from a photograph or replicating a masterpiece, her process is the same: “There’s no right or wrong,” she says. “It’s paint, so you can always add more. … There’s no risk. I sketch with paint, and then I keep building it up.”
Bricca says she recently created her own version of Michelangelo’s fresco “The Creation of Adam” on the ceiling of a client’s home. Her version includes an image of the homeowner’s recently deceased brother embedded in the clouds.
“I did restructure it,” Bricca says. “I resized Adam, and I put God differently and … added my own angels and clouds.”
Bricca says she began painting murals on a whim, starting with her own wall about two decades ago with no formal art training.
“It was the ugliest part of my house,” says Bricca, who transformed the blank space of the wall in her San Diego condominium with a memory of a scene from Spain.
“It was ambitious, and it wasn’t completely successful, but it was fun,” she says. “I loved losing myself in the creative process of the labor.”
Soon after, she had her first paying client – her sister, followed by a second, the friend of a co-worker, and then her career snowballed.
For more information about Bricca’s murals, go to morganmurals.com.
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