I’m sure many of you have walked by one the Art of Disney stores, located in both Disney Springs and Epcot, and seen a sign announcing that an artist is in the store that day. We have passed by this many times and never paid much attention, but during one trip to Walt Disney World about 2 years ago, we actually stopped in to meet one.
Browsing the Disney Springs Art of Disney, I was pushing my son, Walt, in his stroller and looking at the artist-in-resident’s artwork. His name was Greg McCullough, and his artwork was pretty neat! He had a wide range of stuff from Star Wars items to the Fab Five characters. My husband, Brandon, wandered over and began talking with him as well and eventually Greg asked our son’s name. When we told him and also mentioned that he was named after Walt Disney (and that his initials are WDW), he was surprised and said he was amazed to meet a “Walt” at Disney World!
We continued talking with him for a while longer and he obviously picked up on our passion for Disney. He then asked if we wanted to see a project he was working on for a family who lived in Golden Oak neighborhood right outside of the Magic Kingdom. (P.S. If anyone lives there and wants to give me a tour, I would LOVE to take one!)
The computer rendering of this picture, which would later become a painting, was of a beautiful oak tree in the forefront with items from each of the four parks in the background, Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, Earful Tower (at the time it was considered the icon), and the Tree of Life.
We thought just the tree and the park icons were amazing, but then Greg began showing us the real details. Hidden in the actual tree and landscape were 82 characters!! Multiple Mickey heads, but also various other characters as well. It was to be an in-home hidden Mickey hunt. We couldn’t stop looking and asking questions about this piece. He said the real painting would be massive when completed and have personal touches for the family, such as their initials in the trunk, and some other items. We just wanted to know if it would be available for purchase! Greg said at that point he did not know, but possibly.
Fast forward about a year to a year and a half, my husband an I were on a date night in Epcot. We had just arrived at the park and were walking past the Art of Disney there when we saw that Greg was in the store that evening. Brandon said we should go in and see if he had finished that painting. Walking in and around we didn’t see anything resembling the tree painting, and were about to leave when Greg finished speaking with his customers. We went up, said hi, and asked him about his tree portrait. He looked a little shocked that we knew about it. He finally said that he had just printed them and made them available for sale for the general public last week and named it: “Dream it, Do it.” We eventually reminded him how we knew about it because he was a bit confused since it was such a new piece. He showed us the only one on the floor that was sitting on an easel, and we knew it was coming home with us!!
Ours piece is number 8/295, as he had the first 7 already spoken for before they went on sale. As we began talking with him about the purchase, he asked if we wanted the back signed. What is really neat is that Greg ended up drawing another character on the back of the painting for us! He asked our favorite character and we said we like Mickey, but we asked who he liked drawing and he said Donald, but in his normal form, angry!! We had him sketch this for us!
We worked with the Art of Disney Store to get the painting home and then had to leave our newly acquired piece of art in Florida. About 10 days later a massive box arrived on our porch and we could not wait to open it. It was wrapped as if it was an ancient artifact, but perfectly protected! They did such a wonderful job making sure it arrived at our house in good shape. We already had a spot picked out and hardware purchased, so we were ready to hang it up.
This piece of art now hangs in our entryway and we have a wonderful story of how it was purchased. Side note, my mother-in-law found a little decoration from Hallmark that almost completely matches (hidden characters and all)! So that sits quite close to our painting.
Next time you see a sign about an artist being in one of the Art of Disney locations, stop in and see them. You never know what amazing pieces you will find.
Note about Greg McCullough: As I decided to write this blog, Greg posted on his Facebook page that now through January 1, 2019, Disney has allowed him to take over the space that used to be the Little Miss Matched store in Disney Springs. He has his own personal art gallery called: The Art of Disney Presents: Greg McCullough! So, if you will be in Walt Disney World during this time head over and check out his store.
Do you have any pieces of art that you purchased at Art of Disney? Which artist or piece of artwork is your favorite?
(All photos from the author’s personal collection.)
To learn more about Alyssa and read her recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit her author page by clicking the link on her name at the top of this post.