When my friend Stephanie approached me to create a large painting of an olive tree for their new restaurant I was THRILLED. THe new restaurant is called Cooks & Soldiers located on Howell Mill Road (right where I grew up), one of the busiest areas of Atlanta in Midtown. I wanted to make something absolutely perfect and incredible for the new concept. If you haven't eaten at a Castellucci restaurant, stop what you are doing, google where Sugo, Iberian Pig, or Double Zero Pizza is and go there immediately. It's my favorite food out there. OK anyway, when I was about 15 I used to hostess and run food at Sugo. Needless to say, I have been a big fan ever since. I once made them a Renaissance era sketch that they framed for one of the Sugo locations.
Well, I built the frame for this huge painting and got to work. Cooks & Soldiers is Basque themed, aka: the mountainous nationalist area between France and Spain. I worked for about a month straight on a huge olive tree with a view of the water and reflections and all this gold and red poppies in the front. I worked so hard on it. But something just didn't feel right about it. It was traditional, it looked fine, but it was boring, it looks like I was torturing it into looking awesome instead of just being the right thing.
So, I did what you have to do when you face the facts: I followed my intuition and painted over the entire thing. I got crazy with it, and it really got awesome. I just felt like Midtown wanted a trendier, more unique painting. Plus, olive trees made me think Italy, what about a bull for Spain? Some little Basque people schlepping their goods up the mountain? Why not add a little Picasso and Van Gogh inspiration to the feel of the artwork? A moon, stars, cliffs? Bold lines and rustic colors? Why not make five more smaller pieces that match the 7x8 foot painting? I worked like crazy, falling asleep in my studio and feeling good about the direction things were headed. I also was newly pregnant and had that obstacle to work around as well!
When I met with Stephanie and Fred (brother and business partner) I was SOO nervous--I rarely just completely go a different direction entirely from what the client wants. At first they didn't say anything, they weren't sure what to think! But their interior designers met them at my art studio and they loved it!!! I was so happy. I just knew it was the right call and the right style.