Why I paint on silk : Jean-Baptiste


Why I paint on silk : Jean-Baptiste

As far back as I can remember, I have always felt the desire to create art. Just being near anything with bright colours made me feel happy. I grew up in a tiny fishing village on the island of St. Lucia in the West Indies. My family owned an estate on the hills overlooking Choiseul. I lived in a 100-year-old wooden plantation house built by my grandfather Joseph Jean-Baptiste. It sat in the middle of an acre of mango trees and a towering breadfruit tree at the back. As a kid I never wore shoes, I knew the ground as a good friend. My favourite times were when the bees would hum as they collected pollen from the mango flowers, this meant that soon tiny green mangoes would begin to form and eventually the mango long tree would become a living palette of such vibrant colours. Living in such a paradise made it that I wanted to capture that quality in my art creations, and so I started working with watercolours when I was 5 years of age. It was not until I moved to Canada that I got introduced to the art of silk in 1981.

Why I paint on silk : Jean-Baptiste

I became so involved with this art medium because it was meditative to work with, but mostly because I realized that although silk had been around for thousands of years, it had remained an unexplored art form. To me, all the batiks and hand painted silk work that I had come across all looked alike as if all those artists were creating the same art. I decided that I would discover totally new techniques for this medium. Of course, I struggled to be different because trying to be different means that you are trying to be something you are not. I got lucky when in 1996 I had an accidental break trough, water spilled onto a silk painting I was working on. The results of my daughter’s drink spilling onto the wet silk paint created a texture and lighting effect which looked ethereal. It was so beautiful that I gave up trying to create silk painting which was overly controlled by the application of the paints and now embraced a loose wet on wet technique which allowed the paints to create for themselves. I work with silk because it has made me become totally authentic as an artist. Only a few artist in history have been able to be totally original in their work and style. Silk has become me. Other mediums such as oil, acrylic, and watercolour are very difficult in allowing an authentic style because it’s all been done already, and today most artist carry hints of influence from earlier masters. I want to be my own master, without any artistic influence from other artists. Silk makes this possible for me, and that is why I paint on silk.

Why I paint on silk : Jean-Baptiste

Jean-Baptiste Art Gallery and flowering mango trees humming with honey bees.

Why I paint on silk : Jean-Baptiste


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