Monika has an amazing energy. It is grounding and inspiring and a joy to be around. The story of her life is rich and full of adventures around the planet, and yet she lives whole-heartedly in the present moment. Originally from Poland, her family emigrated to Brazil when she was 7, where she was introduced to the vibrant colors of the tropics. They moved around a lot, but she felt most at home in the islands south of Rio, where they built a house surrounded by nature. After she retired from a career in journalism to be more present in the lives of her children, she started painting pillows, hammocks, and panels to decorate island homes. Her business was taking off in Brazil, but crime was also on the rise, which led to a tough decision to move to the United States, where her children could grow up in a safer environment. Painting went on the back burner as she worked in real estate while living there.
After her little birds left the nest, she and her husband Jorge, who was off surfing when I visited (and just have to add was once a race car driver), moved to St. John, where they now call home. Here, they reconnected with island life and Monika started painting on fabric again. When I came to photograph her creating with her Henna'd hands, she was working on a child's sarong and a fish pillow. She uses soft, feel-good fabric for her sarongs and carefully mixes her paints so they will soak in to the fabric, rather than sit on top, which keeps the fabric soft and flowing. Her work can be found at the Full Moon Cafe in Cocolobo shopping area in Coral bay
The henna design I painted on Monika is from Amelia Dregeiwicz's dream book. I am picking every week a different design aesthetic to henna. This week I chose Amelia because she and Monika are both from Poland :) I love Amelia's style, so I was happy to try out one of her designs from her new design book, which you can purchase by messaging her on Facebook. My henna paste was made from the organic Rajasthani crop of 2013 I purchased from henna lounge. In mixing This batch, I used molasses instead of sugar for the first time, which i really enjoyed, but could have done with a bit less (1 tsp/100 g rather than 2 tsp). These photos were taken 36 hours after application.
Monika and Jorge also built an adorable rental home called "Sea Cottage" in a guava berry grove on top of Bordeaux mountain, that is fashioned with Monika's beautiful hand painted decor and carries the amazing vibration of Monika and Jorge. Check out their page on villa rental by owner and read some of the inspiring reviews from happy guests here.