12 years ago, on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, I began my journey as a henna artist.
I'd moved from my hometown of Boulder, Colorado to spend time working on a farm & nannying on the Big Island, and after 2 years I'd developed a lot of friendships. I treasured these times, when I opened up to allow such friendships with a group of loving women - we'd swim out to see the dolphins together, we'd dance together and sing together. I loved it, I had never expereinced "sisterhood" like this.
One day I suggested a henna party on the beach, and they all agreed. I skimmed the instructions from the henna kit I bought from the craft store, skipping past the part about henna having to sit for 6 hours after you mixed it up. Also, I missed reading the part about not getting it wet for the first 24 hours. No matter. We all met at the beach and painted all over each other. In this photo, I am gazing up at my best friend Coral who is adorning my head. Afterwards, I got up and painted her. This was a powerful rite of passage into womanhood for me.
I remember this day, how we all just did the best we could with this new medium that came out a bit unexpectedly and made sudden splotches. We laughed and talked and dried in the sun. When we got hot, we jumped in Kealakeua Bay and rinsed the henna off. Obviously it didn't stain very well at all, but it lit a fire in me. I kept the henna kit and played with the remaining paste. It was then I realized that I had finally found my medium! I had been wandering as a casual artist, a doodler really.... and knew I loved creating art but I wasn't gifted at any particular medium. Until now. I felt it. When the henna ran out, I ordered from another supplier and while I waited, another dear friend, Pati, and I drew henna designs with markers and created this work of art.
When the henna arived, I mixed it up and started painting again. There was so much to learn, and I had no teacher, no videos to watch. Just the instructions from the kit. One time the henna tube was blocked so I squeezed and squeezed until POP out it came, completely splotching the design. Thankfully Pati just laughed it off and let me practice on her some more.
I bought the very basic henna design books, printed them out and practiced the designs on as many people as I could. Everyone was so encouraging and complimented me on my artwork, which kept my spirits up. Slowly my lines became cleaner and my confidence grew. I knew I was meant to be a henna artist and I loved the feeling I got when I created art that was immediately worn & enjoyed.
Another friend of mine came back from the wet side of the island pregnant, and we gave her a special blessing way. I was beyond excited to adorn her belly. I don't think any of my design books had belly patterns in them, so I just winged it. She was thrilled.
I knew I was on to something, and felt this incredly strong pull to return to my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. I turned 30 years old that summer in Boulder and soon my life began a new chapter that I wasn't expecting: MOTHERHOOD. My henna journey continued, but as a hobby, and instead my main focus went to being a mother and wife .... and that is a whole other story! You can read more in an interview I did recently with the magazine Bella Mia. [http://issuu.com/bellamiamag/docs/issue4_bellamia_october2015/83?e=0]
This photo was taken right around my 30th birthday, in 2004.