SarahKate's Blog

Enjoy a magical trip through the imagination of SarahKate and the women she paints.

  • Getting Back into Journaling

    I was born into a family that encouraged artistic expression and throughout my elementary years I spent a lot of time drawing. Even though I gave up on art as a practical career in middle school, I kept on filling the margins of my notebooks with lots of doodles. 

      The way I've drawn art over the years has had many shifts, and I finally let myself really get back into after I found my medium of henna in 2003 (read about my rite of passage into henna here!) . I would listen to podcasts and draw and draw. 

      Examples of drawn art from the past few years:

      And murals:

      Recently I had a massive positive change in how much I draw for pleasure. I was listening to another podcast, an interview with Ryder Carroll, and was inspired to get back into journaling.   Check out his website - all it takes is a blank notebook and pen, and on his website he has videos with all his secrets on how he organizes his journal. It's absolutely brilliant. 

      After using his system, I found a deep sense of relief as I drew in the "margins" of my journal, filling it with the art that in the past would be on scraps of paper floating around. In fact, I had no idea how scattered I was with all my ideas all over and this method has helped me bring it all into one place where I can clearly see my priorities. 

      Also, I recently heard that a particular artist had more time to make art after he spent less time "online". So I looked into this, and read a fascinating book by Cal Newport called Digital Minimalism. (check out an interview with Cal here! ) It's true - going "off line" for a month gave me a tremendous amount of time to create art along with a lot of other stuff that's important to me. 

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update.   


    Posted by   SarahKate

  •  The idea of postpartum henna has fascinated me for years! I first read about the idea in Catherine Cartwright Jones article over 12 years ago and decided to start creating this kind of work myself. The image below is from 10 years ago!

      The article begins:
      "Hennaing a woman after she gives birth is a traditional way to deter the malevolent spirits that cause disease, depression, and por bonding with her infant. The action of applying henna to a mother after childbirth, particularly her feet, keeps her from getting up to resume housework!" 

      Women have been doing this for each other, in some form or another, for thousands of years. It was wonderful to celebrate pregnancy with henna, and there was something really something special about celebrating with women once they were on the other side of this massive life transformation. 

      This photo (above) is from a recent postpartum celebration that happened this winter. I traveled to this new family's home and spent about 3 hours adorning the new Mother and Father, and also both grandmothers. They returned to the studio for more photos after a few days for more photos. This is the same couple that celebrated their pregnancy - see photos of that here


      I am one artist recreating the tradition to the best of my ability, but it's really inspiring to take a look at how other cultures do this. I saw this video and just watching it, knowing women are treated with this kind of respect after birth, really filled my heart with joy.  This is how women deserve to be treated after the massive transformation into Mother! (photos of video above & below)

      To see other postpartum celebrations I've done, check out these blog posts:

      Newborn henna celebration  and another mama  and one more mama.

      A few weeks old 

      One mama celebrates both pregnancies and both postpartum periods with henna!

      To see more of my postpartum henna art work, check out my books! I have 6 volumes that showcase the ART of honoring pregnancy and postpartum!  

      I also wrote a few Postpartum Articles for Artfull Mother Magazine:

    Fall 2015
    Spring 2016 issue 

      Postpartum henna is something that happens (traditionally) in the first few days or weeks after birth. However, some women give birth wearing their pregnancy henna, which is a different kind of special art!

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update. 

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Testimonial

    "You are so gifted SarahKate! And it's such a joy to be on the receiving end of your positivity, calm manner and stunning art."


    Posted by   SarahKate

  •  In 2008 I began my pregnancy art project, inspired by henna traditions practiced by women during the 8th month as well as postpartum in the rural regions in India. I had read about these traditions in Catherine Cartwright Jones's book, The Functions of Childbirth and Postpartum Henna Traditions

    After celebrating their pregnancy with henna, I offered to come to women's homes in the first month after birth and create our own version of the postpartum ritual, often hennaing their hand(s) and arm(s) while their baby was asleep in their lap. I would return to photograph these new mothers in their home and after a couple years of doing this, I asked if I could also photograph them while they nursed their baby. The first mama to really get into this and have me come to her home several times was Kala (in 2010), her photos are above. 

    I continued photographing breastfeeding mamas after applying postpartum henna. Women loved it! It was only a matter of time before someone asked me to do a new kind of postpartum henna, what I would start calling breastfeeding henna. Verna (above on right) was one of my first models for this new kind of art. 

    Breastfeeding is such a beautiful, natural act to witness. It fills me with appreciation for motherhood, especially the mother I'm photographing. I love honoring this phase in life. Here are some images of this type of work done in 2018. 

    Below are a couple example of this art that I've done in 2019:

    I was so excited to share this kind of art with the world that our first issue of Artfull Mother magazine focused on Breastfeeding! See more back issues here, they are all free to read.

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update. 

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Common Question: Do you have to be pregnant or breastfeeding to get henna from  SarahKate?
    Answer: No! I adorn women in all stages of life. The photos below are of women with either no children or grown children. 

    My Sacred Feminine Art Project has been going on several years now and I have really enjoyed exploring how the medium of henna & photography empowers women. I do plan to create a book in the 2020s with all the best photos (many of which are nude and will not be posted online). This book will include pregnant and breastfeeding mamas as well as all other stages of life. 

    I adorn women wherever they wish, often as a chest piece but I have done many thighs as well. For some of these sessions women lie nude in my heated studio while I adorn chest and belly with jewel like henna. 

    This art project includes women of all ages, and I have celebrated with many grandmothers. What a pleasure to hear their stories as they sit in my special henna chair. There is a reason that stage of life is often called the Wise Woman years. 

    Contact me if you'd like to get on my list for receiving art updates!

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update.   

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • Henna for both pregnancies, 2 years apart

    I first met this amazing mama in 2017 when she was celebrating her first pregnancy. There was a request for a peacock in a tree, an unborn baby, and the universe for her first henna design. The 2nd design, done this week, involved an elephant, turtle, her dog, moon & stars. I love the ideas women bring me! 

    Her dear young daughter and partner came in for photos when the henna was peaking in color and we got some sweet shots. How precious!

    I love photographing the henna designs close up. I mix up my henna paste by hand and include only natural ingredients, henna leaf powder, essential oil, lemon and sugars. 

    My hand made henna dries dark brown but it is not the dangerous "black henna" that you may have read about. This fake "henna" includes ridiculously dangerous chemicals that can cause terrible skin burns that can scar for life. Unfortunately this factory produced chemical "henna" is labeled "100% natural" and is sold in Indian grocery stores, Walmart, etc. Please be safe and only use hand made natural henna paste! If you need a good source just contact me and I'd be happy to sell some of my own henna or direct you to a website with trusted henna powder/paste. 

    Want to know more? Check out my 2019 Spring Art Update.   

    Posted by   SarahKate

  • The path that my art has lit up for me to walk is full of fascinating women who each have a unique vision for their art, their photos. I love hearing the stories of why certain animals are important to women. The hummingbird is such a tiny and powerful creature... I loved capturing this young lady for my art project, honoring the Sacred Feminine. 

      When I had had finished with the photos, she posted them online and said this:  "This is the first real time I have ever looked at myself with overwhelming joy, gratitude, and awe of what has been gifted to me and what I have created internally and externally. Lately I try and do things that are going to take me way out of my comfort zone so I can learn more about my souls purpose and love myself fully; this henna photo shoot with @artfullmother [my Instagram name] was just the feminine medicine I needed.

    The first place my mind goes to when I think of how I truly started cultivating self love is when I saw how much my partner adored me and saw the beauty in my soul...I saw how much I desired to feel the same about myself, how much I wanted to step into my flow and my feminine beauty. So I walked the path and continue to journey down to the depths of my pain, expectations, shadows so I can show up as Self without any masks.

    This is my moment of celebration where I get to cry tears of joy for the work that I do and the love I have for myself. The work is never done and there are still moments where everything feels like it’s falling apart so we remind ourselves with the moments of gratitude for how far we’ve come. I invite you to celebrate yourself, celebrate your journey, and not to forget to thank yourself with a big hug and a nice pat on your own back for how strong you truly are and how much you allow yourself to put YOU first. We all deserve all the love in the universe, so give it to yourself."

    Posted by   SarahKate