Robert Hedelt of the Fredericksburg Star has written several wonderful articles on the Murals we’ve created in Montross and now he’s promoted Montross Mural Studio! I’ve pasted the article below but you can also follow the above link! Thank you Robert!
As one of the world’s premiere muralists and street painters, Melanie Stimmell Van Latum has visited the great cities of the world for clients ranging from Calvin Klein to various festivals.
But the artist fell so in love with the Westmoreland County town of Montross that she’s opening a mural studio there. She’ll teach up to five seminars a year.
Van Latum, who operates We Talk Chalk out of Los Angeles with husband Remco, announced recently that they have bought a property they’ll operate as the Montross Mural Studio.
Their plan for the house with a large outbuilding in the middle of Montross is to offer seminars of varying lengths where students can learn everything from mural-making to faux finishing to plein air painting.
The first is a seven-day, retreat-style session that will start July 6. It will include walking tours of murals, mural design, concept and composition—and the couple’s specialty—3-D concepts.
Several clients have already signed on for the class, which is limited to a dozen students. One of those will be a student from the county’s Washington and Lee High School under a scholarship from the studio.
As I noted in an earlier column, the well-traveled artist first came to the state when she was hired by the town of Montross to paint murals as part of a revitalization project.
She returned last year to paint a series of seven more murals to close out that project.
Van Latum said she fell in love with the small town because of the warmth of the folks she met there.
“People were always coming out to watch and talk to us as we did the murals,” she said. “Anything we needed, they were willing to help. There is just a wonderful family feeling to the town.”
The artist—the only female to hold the title of master street painter in both Italy and Germany—said that warmth made a lasting impression.
“I’ve been all over the world doing this, over 17 years now, and this was the first time I actually said to myself that I would move here in a second,” she said. “The people here are just so welcoming, so nice.”
Returning to her L.A. home, she and other artists who’d worked on the Montross murals found themselves trying to find reasons to come back.
“We were having dinner one day and suddenly it came to us,” she said. “What if we did classes, retreats? We could return every few months to hold courses on muraling and other topics. The idea turned into us buying a property in Montross.”
She said the house, a bit of a fixer-upper, included a garage large enough for classes, storage and more.
The Van Latums have found a contractor and work should start on the home and workshop space soon. She noted that there’s already a project for the July workshop: a new wildlife-themed mural for the business Bridget’s Bouquets in town.
Van Latum started muraling after falling in love with the art form at her first street-painting festival. She said she likes bringing others to the art.
“I’ve always taught and done workshops for murals and street painting,” she said. “It lets artists get their hands in it and see if they like it.”
Van Latum makes no bones about the fact that the new Montross studio is both a business venture and a way to pay for a second home.
“I love the idea of our son spending time in a place like this,” she said, ticking off draws that range from green, lush forests to waterways for exploring to weather that includes rain and snow—two things that are in short supply in L.A. lately.
The artist noted that she will also soon be doing murals in another Virginia town, Colonial Beach.
She said five murals will be done there through a grant, on buildings ranging from the town office to a condominium to a new bathhouse.
“They will be vintage inspired, postcard style, like the original Montross murals,” said the artist. “These will have a more seaside feeling, one a postcard of an old casino on the shore, another of girls splashing in the water in old-style bathing suits.”
Van Latum said there are times of year when mural work lags due to weather.
“November through February are slow, and sometimes middle of the summer is slow as well,” she said. “It will be nice to plan for that, heading to Virginia then to do some workshops and relax. It will be a nice change of pace.”
For information about the new studio’s seminars, costs, registration or more, go online to montrossmuralstudio.com or call 804/668-7223.