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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Passion Of Silk Textiles Artist Daniel Jean-Baptiste

I came across the work of Daniel Jean-Baptise a few days ago and fascinated by the work I became engrossed in his blog. Like many great artists, he shares a lot of his work and technique with the world and there were countless blog comments from people across the globe asking him to share with him some of his techniques. I wrote to Daniel and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for our readers. You can follow Daniel's work here:

Can you tell us how you came to be on St. Lucia and what originally brought you to the art of silk painting? Can you tell our readers a little about St. Lucia?

I was born in the  small town of Soufriere in St. Lucia but  I grew up in  the small fishing  village of Choiseul, which had  just one street.  I lived on an estate over looking village which was  surrounded by  giant mango trees and rows of coconut palms. Painting was something I did to entertain myself as a child and in 1979 I moved to Toronto Canada with my mother, and it  was there that I was introduced to  silk painting while working for Display  Arts of Toronto
St. Lucia is possibly one of the most beautiful islands in the world.  It is so tiny that you can drive around the entire island in one day. The population are descendants of slaves and are of a mixed races, myself being part Jewish and African Carib Indian. While the island is part of the United Kingdom's Commonwealth and English is the mother tongue, most locals speak a French patios, a by-product from the 14 wars between the English and the French who wanted to lay claim to this gem of an island that came to be known as “Helen of the West”.

Click to enlarge

Inspired by natural surrounds of St Lucia - Daniel Jean-Baptise, a unique textiles artist

In terms of your palette and in terms of silk paints, what are the most effective colours that you tend to incorporate into your designs?

My most effective colours are Aqua, Turquoise, Cyan, Brown and Black.

How much of your canvas do you plan before you set out to begin a silk painting? Can you explain to people who don’t know this art, what are some of the most basic things needed to set up a silk canvas?

The most important and difficult part of creating a silk painting is in designing the line artwork which will be used as a guide for applying the water based resist (gutta). Before this can take place, I first draw up rough ideas on 8” x 10” paper. I will source as much information about the subject in the form of photos and live drawing when possible. Once  I am happy with the idea, I then  draw a larger version onto  Kraft paper.  The pencil drawing is then traced over with a black permanent marker. I then coat the drawing with a light layer of artist spray adhesive, and then mount the piece of silk onto the drawing while lying flat on a table. The final step is to hand draw the  gutta onto to the silk while following the  line artwork which can be seen through the  white silk.

In terms of man hours, how long do you roughly anticipate it will take you to finish an artwork from start to finish? 

Creating the designs of the line artwork on paper can take from one day to a week to complete. Silk painting which takes years to master, for me is the easiest and can take anywhere from 1 – 10 hours depending on the size and complexity of the piece.

You may have seen the making of this canvas on a post below. It is fascinating to see the process unfold.

Do you sell your original artworks to the public? Is there a high demand for textiles art in St. Lucia? How much do you original artworks sell for?

I do sell all of  my paintings to the world. When I lived in St. Lucia between 1995 to 2004 I did  silk  painting demonstrations at a luxury hotel  called Sandals La Toc Regency and sold a tremendous  amount of work to visitors to the island. I live in Canada now and have an estate on St. Lucia which I am slowly transforming into my art head quarters. My work sells from between $400.00 to $20,000.00. I produce limited edition multi originals and also one of a kind pieces. The demand for textile art comes from buyers outside of St. Lucia.

In my own experience of silk art, making effective gutta lines that won’t bleed has been my hardest obstacle, would you also agree that this is the most delicate part of the process or silk art?

Silk painting takes a very long time to master and this includes the gutta lines. After working with silk for over 30 years I find the entire process very easy and the gutta lines can be done flawlessly.

Creating gutta lines - an important aspect of textiles art which allows the artist to paint within confined spaces. Gutta is an Indonesian rubber tree from which is derived a viscose liquid which forms barriers on a silk canvas.

What is your favourite art work that you have produced and is there a story behind why it is so important to you?

All of my work is important, there is no one piece that stands out of the others. In fact it is because I strive to create work which has never been seen before, I create from that which has never existed before. My paintings are only about the beauty and paradise that I see every where in this world. To me the beautiful things are all that matter.

When you are no painting on silk, how do you spend the rest of your time in St. Lucia?

Time away from painting while in St. Lucia belongs to the sea and the forest. If I am not kayaking or diving, you can find me on  a 100 acre forest I inherited, watching  St. Lucian  parrots as they go about showing off their beautiful colours and singing loudly.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely article, extremely enjoyable to read.
    If you enjoy beauty, its a must to read!
    Stefanie, Frankfurt, Germany.