Friday, April 26, 2019

August on the Bank of the St. Lawrence (or maybe just Estuary) - A Story

The path from our campsite to the open air of the river bank was a gauntlet of apparently starving mosquitoes.

Coming home from a trip is one of my favourite parts. I don't mean actually arriving home, although I do love coming home to my own kitchen. I mean the return part of the journey - the movement back to point A.

Traditionally, this is when Doug and I discuss next steps in our shared lives. We make plans. After escaping the day to day for a bit, we use this time of returning to assimilate our experiences and view the things we left at home with a fresh perspective.

Maybe the journey away looks outward and the journey home looks inward?

The surreal experience that inspired my current body of work in progress, tentatively titled 'Estuary', occurred on a journey home. I had spent a month at an artist residency in New Brunswick. It had been both invigorating and challenging in the way that life altering events are. I was stuffed full of the seeds of ideas yet to be identified but I was also completely drained.

Later, I learned the word 'estuary'the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments. 

We were driving along the south bank of the St. Lawrence river through the tail end of an exhausting heat wave. Our plans for the night were vague and we listlessly followed a rambling road through the hazy, idyllic Quebec country side, hoping a solution would present itself. A sign for a campground appeared on the right and we pulled in with relief.

Our campsite had a view of the St. Lawrence, kind of, and we did not mind at first that we had to park on the road and lug the gear along a path to the clearing. Inside the trees, however, we were immediately swarmed by what surely must have been thousands of aggressive mosquitoes. We dropped the packs and ran back to the car to armour limbs and douse ourselves in repellent. Thus fortified, we made a second assault, moving quickly  and this time getting the tent unrolled before we were again forced to retreat.

We were saved from certain death by a fire ring and table at the river's edge. 

We were saved from certain death by a fire ring and table at the river's edge which was then an expanse of vibrant grasses and smooth silver water sitting low under gloomy, humid cloud cover. We decided to stay there for as long as possible, only venturing into the mosquito infested pit known as our campsite when ready for sleep.

This is how it came to pass that I spent hours sitting at the edge of the great St. Lawrence river watching the water slowly, slowly swell with the ocean's tide.

Later, I learned the word 'estuary'the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments. In hindsight, I draw a parallel between my depleted state rife with the beginning of ideas and this first view of the St. Lawrence estuary that first day of August.

Overheated, drained of blood, and empty of thought.

Overheated, drained of blood and emptied of thought, I drooped on a picnic table for an embarrassingly long time before it occurred to me that we had a scored a river side view of sunset over the St. Lawrence. 

At 16:30:26 I was finally moved by the beauty in front of me (and possibly revived by the great local brew) to take a photo. And then the light changed and I was moved to take another. Five minutes later I realized that some of the muddy humps in the distance had become islands, so the water must be rising and that made the ever changing vista all the more poignant.

20180801 16:30:26

Can you claim to be present in the moment when you're taking photos? It felt like it. I think the lens gave my weary brain an excuse to be still, to look and see. Over a span of four hours, I took hundreds of photographs, feeling each time that that was enough, that I would put the phone away for good. Then a cloud shift would change the light or the rising river formed new reflective pools and I'd reach for it again.

I had no plan at all. This was pure recuperative therapy but when we did arrive home and I reviewed the shots from that evening an idea for a body of work began to form.

Estuary (or maybe An Evening on the Bank of the St. Lawrence) is about sitting still and looking. It is about being empty and being filled. Breathing in and breathing out. It is about the awesome beauty in the painted sky right now - and now - and now - and again now and about sitting still to see it. Every moment is a unique drop in a (you guessed it!) river of eternal same. It is also about Monet's haystacks and about light.

First 5 x 7 study.

If you're still reading, thank you! Writing this post has helped me to clarify some ideas and reflect on what lies beyond the surface of this new work. You can watch as the work unfolds on Instagram @kathywhiteart or on the home page of

Wool painted hearts workshop in Blyth on May 11th!

Would you like to learn more about this medium and give it a try yourself? Or maybe you are looking for a mother's day treat for yourself or someone else?

May 11, 2019 - Wool Painted Hearts!
Back by popular demand! Kathy White returns just in time for Mother’s Day with a beautiful woolpainted heart project. During this workshop, fibre artist Kathy White teaches her method of applying wool yarn to beeswax covered boards to create a ‘wool painting’. Participants receive everything they need to create and take home their own unique heart shaped wool painting. All levels of experience welcome. Make a heart for your Mom or treat her to a creative afternoon out, either way it’s the perfect Mother’s Day gift! 

Tea, fruit and cupcakes will be served.
    • WHEN: Saturday, May 11th 12:30 - 4:30 pm
    • WHERE: Pick a Posie Costume Shop,  432 Queen Street, Blyth, ON
    • COST: $70 includes all materials
    • INFO & REGISTER: Fashion Arts & Creative Textile Studio 
    Until next time, may you be revitalized when you are tired, replenished when you are low, and filled with the waters of creativity when you thought they were gone.


    Tuesday, March 26, 2019

    Textile Museum of Canada, Workshops, and Dyeing Naturally!

    What's on my work table - Spring 2019. Those are yarns I dyed myself with plant materials gathered and prepared during the 2018 natural dyeing weekend with the Fashion Arts and Creative Textiles Studio in Blyth, ON.
    Greetings from Stratford, where I spent our icy winter holed up with my pirates' treasure of bright fabrics, wool, and beeswax, happily creating while the weather raged. I have been playing with shapes and composition as well as experimenting with layering paint and fabrics with the beeswax for depth. Small pieces are perfect for trying stuff out and each one can become a unique, miniature work of art.

    This little cherry blossom includes polka dot fabric between layers of wax. So cute it sold already!

    Among the many valuable lessons I learned during my 2018 residency at Kingsbrae Gardens, NB is the potential for a mutually supportive relationship between an artist and her local community. One of my goals for 2019 is to interact with and get to know more of the communities around me. So you will see me out and about more this year at local markets such as the Goderich Makers Market coming up on April 6th at Square Brew

    Heart shaped fun for Valentine's Day. These created quite a sensation and were snapped up in a hurry.

    One of our highlights so far this year is to have both our yarn painting kits and my Harrison Park Series accepted for sale in the Textile Museum of Canada's shop. The shop's director, June Lee, is wonderfully welcoming and helpful and I am looking forward to knowing the museum better. Doug is really the force behind this one and I have him to thank for making it happen. Thanks, sweetheart, you are the best!

    Cecropia Moth in Moon Garden. More playing with my naturally dyed yarns.

    I had a nibble at botanical dying last summer when I took a weekend workshop through the Fashion Arts and Creative Textiles Studio in Blyth, ON and now I am hooked. I love the subdued colours and suspect this might be a game changer for my work. Especially of interest are natural dye materials that do not require a mordant. Mom, the master gardener, is growing some woad this year and I am collecting tools to start dyeing this summer. Onion skins and avocado seeds are also on my radar.

    More experiementing with fabric under wax.

    Workshops are another way I can reach out to my community and there are lots planned and even more on the way. Look here for details and to register.

    March 29, April 5 & 12 - Yarn Painting East Coast Style!Vicki Schofield Studio, Stratford, ON

    April 14 - Intro to Yarn Painting, Goderich Makers Mercantile, Goderich, ON

    April 28 - Spring Blooms Wool PaintingSouth Coast Guest House, Port Colborne, ON

    June 15 - Butterflies & Blooms Garden Inspired Yarn Painting, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, ON

    October 19 -  Beeswax and Yarn Painting Make-Along, Ontario Hand Spinners Conference, Woodstock, ON

    Bohemian Waxwing with Berries. More circular composition which I am starting to think is a square. Or is the square a circle. Hmm...
    Finally, to any one still reading - thank you! It is your support and interest that keeps me going and I know it. To see my creations as I work on them, follow me on Instagram as @kathywhiteart. Don't have an Instagram account? You can see my posts on the home page of my website at

    Happy Spring! May your bulbs sprout, your garden grow, and your fibre projects flow like water. 💙