Manistee Nat’l Forest Festival: Reflection¬†

To sum up this past weekend, all I can say is “wow!”  Live painting around town during the Forest Festival/4th of July weekend has been an absolutely incredible, educational and inspiring experience! Thank you so much to everyone who came out and supported all of the local arts and festivities!! 


Words can’t really do this whole experience justice, so I’ve posted some photos from the past few days to help. I must say, though, there have been three major events that really stuck out to me. 

First there was all of the children I met on River Street during my painting sessions in Goody’s and outside of Surroundings. About 5 different children ranging from ages 4-7 came up and watched me paint with awe. A few of them begged their mothers to stop and watch and told both their moms and me how they wanted to be an artist, too! It was such a humbling experience to see the light in these childrens’ eyes and knowing my work was inspiring them. I gave them all some cards with “Finding Peace Amidst the Chaos” in the hopes that our meeting will continue to inspire them to explore their creativity. 

Second was my kismet meeting with a lovely holistic and artistic couple from Grand Rapids who drifted into Manistee by chance on their way to the Traverse City cherry festival. The woman, Amanda,  is a professional henna artist and her partner Michael is a holistic chiropractor. She tattooed my arm and I showed them around town and introduced them to a lot of people interested in purchasing tattoo art from her. We bonded so strongly and quickly, and they ended up staying the night at my house and we spent the next day together. We’re working on some future collaborations, and they’ll be back up here at the end of the month to host some healing workshops with Iron Works Cafe and myself.  The best part is that it all started by me saying “hey, I love your skirt!” and Michael responding with “nice paisley vest.” 

Third was live painting on stage with Cole Black, a Manistee local DJ, for the very first pre-fireworks party on 1st Street Beach. While I’ve painted at festivals, there was something so awesome about being up on a stage that I experienced a really powerful “aha” moment, and I realized that I am a professional live painter!  Plus, Cole is really an amazing person and I enjoyed working with him and building up our collaborative relationship with this event. 

Thank you so much to everyone who came up to Manistee, came out to our events and supported our town and local arts! I hope to see more people wandering through town, and I seriously hope add to their love and inspiration from Manistee. 

Pictures of the whole weekend are up on my Facebook page

Love & Light,

EmJae