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.