By Kristyl Clark/Special to Langley Advance Times
Reduced hours, closures, layoffs – that’s the reality for small businesses across the globe as the Covid-19 crisis continues to evolve.
Here in Langley, several tech-savvy entrepreneurs are adapting to these changes with unique and creative ways to give back and stay afloat.
One such individual is Freda Lombard, who never used to think twice about entering a stranger’s home to facilitate a painting party.
Now with self-distancing rules in full effect to combat Covid-19, the owner of Zealous Art has cancelled all events indefinitely.
Gatherings big and small have come to a halt, but Lombard doesn’t plan to shelve her easel and brushes any time soon.
Since the middle of March, the Langley resident has invited hundreds of men, women, and children into her home –virtually– to teach them how to paint.
Art can heal people in some of the darkest or unexpected places, even at someone’s kitchen table. Just ask Lombard.
“I know the benefits of making art when you are stressed, overwhelmed, and not able to focus,” she said.
The South African native started Zealous Art as a self-sustaining hobby around 10 years ago. To date, close to 20,000 people have painted with Lombard at home parties, conferences – and before it’s closure in the fall – her studio in downtown Langley.
“I knew I had to continue to bring art to people somehow.”
It all started with a Facebook live session that had close to 100 people painting along with her.
Word got out fast about her free digital parties, and now she averages around 600 participants from all over the globe.
“I have people painting from Trinidad, India, California, South Africa and Australia… It is such a simple action to press live and to paint. People really need this right now. It is wonderful. I love doing it and I love what it does for people.”
Lombard doesn’t bring in any income through the events, but the reward has been plentiful.
“I spend my mornings reading the messages and looking at all the photos,” she said.
“I cry, I laugh… it has been so well-received, and many have sent me messages about how this made them feel so much better. Spending a few hours painting, drawing doing some kind of art, has helped them relax, de-stress, and forget about this crazy life we are living right now.”
Lombard plans to continue offering her virtual parties until social distancing rules subside.
To help her reach an even wider audience, she’s asking for help in sharing the word about her online parties.
And while her digital sessions are free, she accepting donations. She also leads art courses at zealousart.teachable.com.
Family paint nights run every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and can be accessed through the Zealous Art Facebook page. Paint and wine nights are Fridays at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.zealousart.com.
– Kristyl Clark is a former Black Press Media reporter and contributor, and the founder of the award-winning family blog ValleyMom.ca. Follow her on Facebook @ValleyMom.ca and Instagram at @ValleyMom.ca