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Watch The Paintbrush on WCIU!

The Paintbrush was featured on WCIU news with Aly Bockler!

“Offering art education and classes for pint-sized Picassos, The Paintbrush in Lake View keeps kids busy while they learn and get their creative juices flowing.”

See our segment by clicking here!



Students’ Work Featured in Students Xpress

Check out the fall edition of StudentsXpress, featuring art work by The Paintbrush on the cover! Flip to the inside page and see our summer campers in the studio. Might be YOUR child!


Two innovative studios target young art masters

July 31, 2009


Looking for something different to wrap up the kids’ summer? Check out…nontraditional art studios in Chicago…The Paintbrush put(s) a different spin on art classes for kids.

The Paintbrush, owned by Melanie Apel, melds music and art for kids ages 12 months to 12 years old. Single-mom Melanie was looking for a way to support her kids without being away from them. She hit on the idea of an art studio for kids and opened in Lakeview in April 2005. The studio moved to Lincoln Park in 2014.

Calling The Paintbrush offerings “art class with a twist,” Melanie Apel said the studio teaches art appreciation along with art techniques.

“The mission of The Paintbrush is to introduce young children to the wonderful world of art,” she said. The goal, she added, is to teach kids to love art and have an understanding of the artists they study and whose works inspire their own creations.

Music — from classical to modern — plays in important part in The Paintbrush classes and workshops. So when Jackson Pollock is featured, Apel said, Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” from “Rodeo” is played.

“Kids are ‘splatter painting’ [a la Pollock],” she said. “It’s very energetic music that leads to what they’re doing.”

The Paintbrush offers a selection of classes geared to different ages along with workshops and summer camp. Classes are ongoing, Apel said, so kids can join anytime.


Wooing the young at art

By: Cynthia Hanson May 12, 2008

CLB Crains

Christina Bertenshaw, center, and friends warm up with some coloring at The Paintbrush in Lakeview.
Photo: Andreas Larsson

Valerie Bertenshaw enrolled her daughter, Christina, in art classes at the Paintbrush so the 4-year-old could paint, draw and glue without making a mess at home.

What Mrs. Bertenshaw didn’t expect was for Christina to start recognizing famous works like “Nude Under a Pine Tree” by Pablo Picasso, which the budding artist pointed out during a visit to the Art Institute last year.

“The fact that Christina is learning about artists and art history is icing on the cake,” Ms. Bertenshaw, 38, says.

The Paintbrush, a children’s art studio in Lincoln Park owned by Melanie  Apel, introduces kids to famous artists, then has them do projects inspired by the artists’ styles. During a lesson on Jackson Pollack, the kids splatter paint on canvases. To mimic American pop artist Wayne Thiebaud, they create giant ice cream sundaes out of newspaper and empty ice cream pints.

Founded in 2005, the Paintbrush is one of dozens of children’s art programs offered in Chicago and the suburbs. For entrepreneurs, who dominate the growing industry, success in this competitive market requires developing a new twist on arts and crafts.

At The Paintbrush, a storefront at 2646 N. Halsted St., that means combining art, history and music. The Paintbrush teaches their students about the artists’ hometowns, backgrounds and technique and play music from the artist’s era or country of origin while the kids work — an idea Melanie Apel got from seeing how much her then-15-month-old son enjoyed painting and drawing while listening to a “Baby Mozart” CD.

“My son would always say, ‘Put on the painting music’ as I pulled out the art supplies, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to teach kids about Monet and play Mozart to inspire them?’ ” she says.


Although art classes have always been a staple of childhood learning, in the past five years, they have become big business in Chicago. The niche once populated exclusively by community centers and grammar schools is being filled by for-profit companies like The Paintbrush… As a result, the course offerings have become more creative.

At The Paintbrush, which Melanie, started with a small inheritance from her grandmother, enrollment has grown from 30 students in its first year to 200 last year. The studio started out offering eight-week sessions for pre-schoolers and school-age kids. Now sessions are 10 weeks (at a cost of $265), and they’ve added classes for toddlers.

They also host birthday parties, with a price range depending on the number of guests and add-ons like balloons, pizza, and goodie bags.

©2008 by Crain Communications Inc.




Grand Image Artist Gregory Garrett Inspires Young Artists

SEATTLE—“Swirl Pattern III,” a poster and original painting by Grand Image artist Gregory Garrett, served as the inspiration for a group of young artists at The Paintbrush art studio to create their own masterpieces.

An art studio for children, The Paintbrush brings music and art together by introducing children to a variety of musical compositions while they explore various artistic media to create their own unique works of art. The students also learn about the lives and works of influential artists and composers.

greg garrett for web

A young boy uses the inspiration of Gregory Garrett’s imagery to create his own masterpiece.

GregoryGarrett print

Artist Gregory Garrett’s “Swirl Pattern III” served as inspiration for aspiring artists.

The instructor recently used Garrett’s poster, “Swirl Pattern III,” in a class project, and the children responded with amazing enthusiasm. “I don’t always do such a literal translation of the artist’s piece, but his painting just lent itself to it,” she says.

For more information, visit www.grandimage.com. ABN