My Speciality is honoring motherhood with Henna Tattoos. I love to adorn pregnant and breastfeeding women with henna then make beautiful photos for them. I live in Lafayette, CO and travel the front range from Colorado Springs, Denver and as far North as Fort Collins to find my living works or art. I am also the creative director of Artfull Mother magazine - a local magazine devoted to the interests of mothers and the art that empowers them!
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.
I love exploring new ways to create flowers! Here we have lots of poppies, feathers and berries incorporated into the henna tattoo to honor Elizabeth's pregnancy. It was a cold, cloudy morning in Boulder Colorado when we met to take photos of her peaking henna stain. I love the golden leaves.... Elizabeth you are glowing!
l love hear the stories behind all the symbols.... Dorian has spent a lot of time in Hawaii and the turtles had special meaning to her. This henna tattoo has a watery - Polynesian theme, just beautiful with the plumeria flowers floating by... Here I am putting in the last little fishes.... Dorian returned a few days later for breastfeeding photos beside Boulder Creek. I love this time of year!
This gorgeous mama drove from her home in Avada to my studio in Boulder for a henna belly session. After some discussion on the tattoo design, I began painting. Over the course of 1 1/2 hours I incorporated as many symbols as I could - a goddess as a tree, a baby dragon, a fairy and blowing leaves. I love how it came out, henna with a playful feeling. Amber returned just a few days later at sunrise to capture these amazing photos of her henna tattoo with the sun lighting up the Colorado mountains. She is glowing with love .... a beautiful mama-to-be.
Amanda drove from Lakewood to my home studio in Boulder to be adorned for my breastfeeding body art project that I've been working on for several years. We talked about design and she requested an ocean scene, and I got to work painting seaweed, dolphins, mermaids, a turtle and lots of fish. Henna tattoos this large take about 2 hours to complete and with a hair blow dryer, they are dry in just a few minutes. We met a couple days later and Rob and I photographed her on a beautiful, warm September day. How sweet to witness the loving nursing bond. Beautiful ~
For Katie's henna belly design she really encouraged me to do whatever I felt like. I asked her: did she feel watery, flowery or more like a tree? And the answer was flowers ~ so away I went! I had a lot of fun and incorporated a lot of neat flower ideas I've been holding on to. Katie returned a few days later at sunrise for some photos by the lake, and I love how they came out. She is glowing! She gave birth 11 days later and asked if I would come to her home in Boulder for postpartum henna. YES! I want to encourage women to stay at home and rest for at least the first 2 weeks, so I'm happy to travel to them for both henna & photos. Her sweet boy was just 3 days old and so wise looking with his peach fuzz. At the time of painting, his exact name was unknown. I continued on with the flower theme from her pregnancy and painted up her arm while she nursed her baby boy. Both big sister and Dad were able to be in the photos we took just a couple days after that - when her son was just 5 days old. I love meeting families like this and celebrating with them.... it's such a special time in life.
Christina drove from her home in Denver to see me again to celebrate motherhood with henna body art. I've adorned her for postpartum, pregnancy and now breastfeeding... it is a joy to watch a mother bloom. Christina requested a design incorporating butterflies and flowers, and I created a bold flowing design. Photos were taken just a couple days later with both her beautiful little daughters. We met at the trail head and I pulled out some gorgeous silks to wrap everyone in. The sun set over the rocky mountains while this stunning mama nursed her baby girl ~ I love it!