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Meet Your Muses

773.636.1968                  thepaintbrush@thepaintbrush.net


Melanie Ann Apel is the Owner and Director of The Paintbrush. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Arts from Bradley University, and earned a subsequent bachelor’s degree in Respiratory Care from National-Louis University. A native of Lincoln Park, she worked as a pediatric respiratory therapist at Children’s Memorial Hospital for six years. Melanie has also been a freelance writer of predominantly children’s books (plus the popular pictorial histories Lincoln Park: Chicago and Lincoln Park Revisited)  and Cystic Fibrosis: The Ultimate Teen Guide, since the mid-1990s. Her newest book What Are You Hiding, Tory? is available as an ebook. Melanie is a single mom to two talented, creative boys. When her boys were in elementary school Melanie was very active in her sons’ school’s PTA as a VP and chair of several committees, she was the band association’s recording secretary, and an all-around volunteer, and busy mom. When not volunteering or working, Melanie may be found figure skating or in dance class. Melanie brings her love of watching children explore their world, along with her organizational skills and her amazing ability to multitask, to The Paintbrush.

Emma Hartmann  joined the Paintbrush in 2021, bringing with her years of experience in art with a focus on painting, drawing, and 3D art. She graduated in 2019 from Truman State University.

Addison Johnson aspires to teach art to kids as a lifelong career and is studying art in college. She joins the team at The Paintbrush in Spring 2023 with enthusiasm and excitement.

Sophia Iqbal joined The Paintbrush team in the summer of 2023. She brings talent and a love for children to her role at the studio.

Hayden Apel has been part of The Paintbrush since he was four years old. Having grown up in his mom’s studio he has been a member of the pARTy Team for several years, assists with camps and ART in the Park as well as off-site events, and was a co-creator of Kids’ Night Out. Hayden launches the Brick Building Masters Class in Fall 2022, bringing one of his greatest passions to our young students.

Alec Apel has never known life without The Paintbrush. Alec is most often seen at Drop-In ART, birthday pARTies, camps and off-site events. He was a co-creator or Kids’ Night Out and assists with occasional project creation.