Carmel Valley artist and teens create special mural for Becky’s House

By Karen Billing

Carmel Valley resident Hanna Daly had always used her talents in art to make gifts for other people. Recently, she created one of her biggest gifts to date when she completed a mural at Becky’s House domestic violence shelter with help from five teenagers in the Becky House teen program.

Becky’s House has the largest number of beds in the county for women and children escaping domestic violence and their program includes a 30-day stay in an emergency shelter, counseling, legal assistance, career development and children’s services.

The mural, depicting a cityscape, dolphins in the ocean, a treasure chest, rainbow, waterfall and hot air balloons in a cloudy sky was painted on a 60-foot long, 15-foot tall wall around a rooftop deck.

The deck is an important part of the shelter as many of the women and children are afraid to go outside and the protected deck is the only place they can be outside and let their children play during their stay.

“It’s nice to do something good,” said Daly. “We get so sheltered here in Carmel Valley, it’s perfect here. Stuff that you start to worry about is not important and you want to give back. This is the way I can give back.”

Daly had always been into art but where she started is a lot different than the kind of work she’s doing now with her seven-year-old business, Hanna’s Murals.

“I did tiny, color pencil drawings. Itty bitty,” Daly said.

Moving into murals was a challenge — the focus is less on small details and more on the overall piece.

While some artists don’t like being told what to create, Daly actually prefers it to having a big, blank wall and having to figure out what to do. She encourages input.

“Someone tells you exactly what they want. I love it,” Daly said.

In the first four years her business was mostly children’s rooms (“Low pressure, they love it no matter what”), but the down economy has her branching out doing more work for businesses.

Branching out also meant looking for ways to give back in her free time, offering her services to various organizations. She has worked with the Golden Hill Youth Center and Cecily’s Closet, an organization that does room makeovers for children with special needs.

After approaching Becky’s House, they came to her with the option to paint the outside balcony. The space was so large that Daly asked if she could get some help and her answer came in the Becky’s House teen housing program.

At first, Daly was worried that the teens would not be excited about the painting, but when they started to brainstorm they came up with all kinds of ideas for the mural and got really into the project. Daly let them incorporate all of their ideas into the piece, including some graffiti-font words of inspiration done by one “super talented” girl.

“These teens used to live at Becky’s House so they know how it is,” Daly said of their ideas to add inspirational words like “hope” and “trust.” As the rooftop was a place children came to play, the teens also wanted to paint little hidden items in the mural that the kids could try to find.

Daly tried to step away as much as she could to let them do most of the work, telling them that there were no mistakes in art. She found the teens loved mixing paints and treated paint splatters on their clothes as a mark of being a real artist.

It took six months to complete the mural, working once a month to accommodate all of their schedules and finishing on Feb. 19 with a pizza party.

“Is it perfect? No. But it’s so cool because they did it all together and learned through it,” Daly said.

While this project is complete, Daly would love the opportunity to work with the teen program again on mural-like projects, steering them away from using their artistic talents on tagging and graffiti.

She hopes her project inspires others to find a way to give back in whatever ways they can.

“The world is not all like Carmel Valley and I try to teach my kids that,” Daly said. “Anybody can help.”

For Hanna’s Murals, visit