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Friday, July 10, 2020

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With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, people across the world are quarantined in their homes and are looking to find new, creative ways to spend their downtime. A wide variety of businesses have popped up to help fill that void, including Bergen County-based Paint With Me!.

Created and helmed by Nicole “Nikki” Sausen, Paint With Me! has become Paint With Me!Virtually. Paint With Me!Virtually offers interactive painting sessions via Zoom. Participants are guided step-by-step by Sausen or another Paint With Me!Virtually artist. It is an easy-to-follow process that requires no previous art experience, all from the comforts of your own home. The events are perfect for children and adults of all ages (5-105!). Paint With Me!Virtually offers open registration events as well as private events. They are available for bar and bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, bridal showers, sweet sixteens, family reunions, team building, corporate events and other such gatherings.

Sausen, an experienced artist, is a Bergen County resident who has worked in art therapy for many years. Having developed a deep love for art as a child, she knew she wanted to do something professionally that would enable her to share her passion with others. When the coronavirus pandemic began, she noted the need for at-home familial activities and decided to create something to fill it.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, really,” Sausen shared of Paint With Me!Virtually’s inception. “I had a number of cancellations for the original Paint With Me!, and I thought I was not going to be working and then it hit me! With the encouragement of a friend and my family, I decided to go virtual. Word got out and sessions lined up, including bat mitzvahs, birthdays, family fun and bridal showers! We meet via Zoom and spent an hour painting together. The painting is chosen before the event; if it is a private event, the host chooses the painting. For open registration events, the painting is chosen by us, but we are always happy to take suggestions! It’s a lot of fun and a fantastic, interactive experience—even from a distance.”

Making the move to digital lessons was a bit of a transition for Sausen, who says she learned how to use Zoom specifically for the occasion. Having worked in the past as a teacher and therapist, the shift had a learning curve, but she has since found her stride.

“Art is something that doesn’t require prior experience,” Sausen continued, “and one of the most exciting things about painting via Zoom is that anyone in the world can join. People from California, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Cleveland, Florida, Israel and even Finland have joined Paint With Me!Virtually. In a time when people are feeling isolated, it’s really enabling people to bridge the gap between feeling alone and being together. Art is a great medium to do just that, because it’s an activity that anyone can do. It’s for anyone who wants to partake, regardless of their age or skill.” Sausen often says, “I can’t believe I am in my house and you are in your house and we are doing this together!”

For those who don’t have the materials, they can order the supplies online or directly from Paint With Me!, though they can also use whatever they have at home, whether watercolor, oil or chalk pastels, markers or even crayons.

“The sessions are easy, fun and accessible.” Sausen added. “I also try to be as interactive as possible; throughout the session, I call on people to share their work throughout the event. It’s truly a chance to meet your inner artist, relax for an hour and create a product that you’ll be able to look at and smile.”

If you would like to schedule a session or learn more about Paint With Me!, contact Sausen via email at [email protected], or by phone at (845) 300-3660. You can also check out the website, www.paintwithmeinc.com, though it is currently under construction. To keep up with Paint With Me!, follow them on Instagram, @paintwithmeinc, and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/paintwithmeinc


Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com

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