Morley Hicks came to the U.S. in 1900, and settled in Detroit, Michigan for eleven years before eventually moving to Milwaukee in 1911. He began his professional career as a paint chemist at Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company but gradually gave it up in favor of painting.
Hicks studied art at Milwaukee Normal School under Gustave Moeller and George Oberteuffer and at Wisconsin State Normal School under Alexander Mueller from 1921 to 1923. He became a close friend and associate of Moeller. Both were members of the Walrus Club in Milwaukee, and Hicks at one time was president of this organization. He also was a member of the Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors.
His understanding of oil paints led to his interest in easel painting. Being very methodical, he numbered and kept meticulous records of his 1,381 paintings. At first he copied others' works, but then began doing his own compositions.
Hicks was very fond of painting Wisconsin landscapes which were quite literal renderings of nature. He also played with special effects of lighting, and liked to capture shoreline atmospheres on canvas.