With 18 years experience as a
professional artist, Nancy Jo Branigan
has become an expert at painting
By JESSY YANCEY, Staff Writer
HOME IMPROVEMENT: Moving beyond a blank wall
Are you trying to pull a room together but lacking something that unifies the area? Does your room
need a focal point of some sort, but you don’t know exactly what? Would you like to make a statement
about yourself or the atmosphere of your home without saying a word?
Look no further than Nancy Jo Branigan, a noted artist whose talents have been showcased
throughout southern Florida. Her murals can be as simple as a border of vines curling around a door
frame or they can be more complex. In one house, she textured bathroom walls to look and feel like
sandstone and painted the domed ceiling to give the realistic appearance of a blue sky background
with ferns peeking through the broken stone. In another, she painted a scene of Venice, Italy, on a
wall because the city holds a special place in the homeowner’s heart.
Branigan recently moved to Franklin from Vero Beach, Fla., and she came prepared to bring the art
of mural painting to homes and businesses around Middle Tennessee.
“A coat of paint can make a vast change in an area,” said Branigan. “If you throw in a mural, that
really makes an impact.”
Many of Branigan’s murals, like the sandstone one
mentioned above, use the skill of faux finishing, or trompe l’
oeil, which means “trick of the eye.” Branigan can take any
plain, flat surface and make it look like an optical illusion;
for instance, painting an elevator door to look as if it’s
made of mahogany wood.
“You paint so realistically with shadows and perspective
that when you look at it, you think it’s real,” she said.
Branigan uses mostly acrylics when painting her murals,
because they dry so quickly and allow her to paint in many
“You can handle acrylics to look like watercolor,” she said,
noting it is a difficult medium to master.
With 18 years as a professional muralist, Branigan has become an expert at painting room-
sized murals with acrylics — and at helping clients to figure out what they want before the
“I try to get their vision and combine it with my know-how,” she said.
The first step, according to Branigan, is to look at the artist’s portfolio.
“Get some ideas going so the artist has a jumping-off place,” she said. “The homeowner
should have a part in the creative process.”
Branigan said the murals’ appearances can be very diverse, depending on whether the client
wants something bold and realistic or soft and subtle. She isn’t limited to walls, either; she also
paints murals on canvas and furniture items as well.
“The things I do are as varied as my clients and the problems they are trying to solve or the
looks they are trying to achieve,” she said.
Because no two people are the same, Branigan never does the same project twice, although
many of her clients get inspired by her previous work.
If you are interested in a mural painting for your home or business, or to view some of
Branigan’s one-of-a-kind artwork, visit www.nancybranigan-muralsandart.com. For more
information, you may contact Branigan at (772) 770-4154 or (772) 532-6760.
Posted on: 8/24/2006
WILLIAMSON HERALD :: 1117 Columbia Avenue :: P.O. Box 681359 :: Franklin, TN 37068
1117 Columbia Avenue
Franklin, TN 37068
Local muralist Nancy Jo Branigan
creates illusion with her artistic skills
Closeup of the peeking
monkey mural in Nancy
Jo Branigan’s living room
that covers half a wall.
Off the wall: Vero Beach artist Nancy Jo Branigan takes
murals to the next level
By Ivy Silverman
Posted March 28, 2008 at 9:08 a.m.
Nancy Jo Branigan
painted this trompe’ loeîl,
a “trick-of-the-eye” mural,
of a clothesline in her
Florida's Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches
Changing wall color can change the look of a room. But if it's a complete transformation
you're after, you may want to contact Vero Beach artist and muralist Nancy Jo Branigan.
Branigan paints on walls, canvases, fabrics and furniture. She uses faux finishing
techniques such as making a flat wall appear textured, or a trompe l'oeil, "trick of the eye,"
like painting a vase with flowers on a stair landing.
"Once I had the technique down I realized I could use it on anything," said Branigan, who
has her own clientele, and paints for Le Courts Woodworking and designer KC Barkley
An artist since age 5, Branigan has painted murals throughout her home. "I painted my first
mural when I was 16 and I saw how it completely changed the room," she said.
Some of her murals are as simple as a vine bordering a doorway or as complex as a
room-sized tropical rain forest with her trademark "peeking monkey."
Branigan is partial to painting nature, particularly tropical flowers and birds. She is inspired
by clients who often know what they want.
"My purpose is to make beautiful things that give people pleasure," she said.
Vero Beach residents Roger and Scotty Wheelwright recently contacted Branigan to let her
know the pleasure they get from a 1993 job she did for them.
"We spend most of our time in the kitchen," said Scotty Wheelwright. "I really liked what
Nancy did and thought, 'We ought to call and tell her how much we like it.'"
During a renovation project, Wheelwright showed Branigan a bamboo scroll he'd bought
from a street vendor in China.
"I wanted this motif but I didn't want the repeating pattern of wallpaper," he said. "I gave it to
three artists and said I wanted it green."
Branigan, new in business, had no portfolio to show her work.
"I thought the colors needed to be subtler," she said, "to match the other renovations in the
She presented her rendition on sheetrock. That original painting now hangs in the
Wheelwrights' guest bathroom.
Originally from upstate New York, Branigan studied art at the Fashion Institute of
Technology and at Faux Effects Studio in Florida. She began painting as a career 18 years
ago with designer Betty Manry by adding floral designs on bedding and pillows to match
"Betty never gave me the same two projects to do," Branigan said. "She trusted me and that
gave me the self confidence to realize how versatile I can be."
Branigan and her husband, Max, just returned to Vero Beach after two years living in
Franklin, Tenn., where country music singer George Jones discovered her talents.
"When I left Florida I thought I'd be painting mountains," she said with a laugh. "But the
Joneses' project was the most tropical I'd ever done."
Branigan's work can be seen at www.nancybranigan-muralsandart.com
Roger and Scotty Wheelwright of Vero
Beach originally wanted green for the
bamboo mural in their kitchen, but
Branigan persuaded them to use
softer greensand blues.