Fresh Art: Rachel Kirkpatrick – Henna Artist

Art, Fresh

Rachel Kirkpatrick got her start as an artist doing henna tattoos for festivals, conferences, and concerts. She now uses varied mediums such as pressure-wash art and sand. Rachel chooses to work primarily with the ancient art of mandalas and sacred geometry as she finds them to be extremely meditative to create. She loves that her viewers also find the images to be therapeutic as well. Rachel loves nothing more than experiencing other people’s joy caused by her own art.


As a child I was always creating — whether that was writing stories, drawing on an easel, copying what I saw on Art Attack, painting my nails with white-out, or simply taking a felt pen to my bare limbs. Art was my favourite class in grade school, and when I went to university, I made it my modus operandi to take one visual arts class per semester as an outlet for my other academic courses.

In my first year of university, I started to dabble with henna tattoos and had a colleague take me with her on her henna gigs. Since then, over the last four years, I have done thousands of henna tattoos at countless gatherings such as concerts, festivals, and corporate events. Because of the doodle-y nature of it, drawing Henna tattoos became the perfect art form for me. I am a synesthetic artist, which means that in my mind’s eye, no matter what, each colour, letter, day of the week and sound all have a colour attached to it. So for me, doing big pieces of work that require lots of shading and colour can be very overwhelming. When I do something that is monochromatic, such as a henna tattoo; in my mind’s eye, it is very colourful.

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A few years ago, while pressure washing my mom’s driveway, I got sidetracked and started pressure washing the sidewalk with henna art. After three hours of focused work, I was very pleased with the large-scale art that I had produced. Since then, I have completed many commissioned pressure wash pieces all over Vancouver.

This past summer, I moved in with my dad to White Rock, while incubating a human child. One day while meditating near the ocean, I drew with my hand a small mandala. Later that night, I got the idea from a friend to try to do exactly that, on a larger scale. The next day I went to the hardware store, bought a rake and found myself making large scale sand mandalas underneath the white rock pier on an almost weekly basis. I have found that the mediums I gravitate towards tend to work well with my doodle-y mandala art and they tend to be ephemeral in nature. I am obsessed with street art, but it is a hard balance to mentally want to create a piece, and then know that you could get arrested for what you are doing. With the mediums of sand and pressure wash art, I have found a balance of work that is public, but non-threatening to society, and temporary.

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I particularly like to work with mandalas as I find them to be very therapeutic. Mandala’s are an ancient symbol used by many religions and people groups, and representing infinity. They are perfectly symmetrical. I particularly love them because for me they are the perfect blend of art and math. Currently, I keep busy doing henna tattoos, henna style t-shirts, keeping my sketch book stocked, and doing the occasional sand mandala and pressure wash art. I am constantly on the lookout for new mediums to be able to share my work with the world.

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