Born on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, self-taught artist Daniel Jean-Baptiste captures on sumptuous silk the brilliant, vivid colors of the vibrant marine life that thrives in the sea around his native homeland.
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about yourself and how you came to create your marine themes on silk.
DJB: I am a natural self taught artist whose whole process of creating was something that arrived in my being when I was nine years old. I experimented in water colour while growing up in a small fishing village in St. Lucia. My introduction into the silk medium that I use today happened in 1982 when I got hired as an artist for a Canadian display company—Display Arts of Toronto—to produce large format hand-painted silk banners for shopping centre interior decorations. Today, the work that I produce as a fine artist is more refined and very different compared to my early commercial work.
X-RAY MAG: When you create your art works, what drives your artistic vision?
DJB: I have a deep passion to create work that has never existed before. It has to be a creation that has its origins from my life. I am only interested in depicting the world as I experience it—just all beautiful and vibrant. I want the viewer to see paradise everywhere.
X-RAY MAG: What about the sea and its creatures inspires you?
DJB: I was very lucky to have grown up in a small fishing village. I spent every free moment on the old wooden jetty fishing and diving with all these earthly wonders. I was so addicted to the ocean that I always tried to avoid school in order to enjoy life. My work reflects that time in my life when I was so excited to discover new fish, scary crabs and to swim in what looked like liquid diamonds. The effect of light on the sea floor and on the skins of fish has always been something that has fascinated me.
X-RAY MAG: Are you a scuba diver or do you snorkel?
I have never scuba dived, but I am a snorkelling expert; I can dive down to 50 feet easily.
X-RAY MAG: What sources do you use to form or inform your underwater images?
The best information on my marine subjects is found first hand in the water—just observing them as they live. Photos from any source are also welcome, as well as more information from other sources including videos, photos and even written descriptions.
X-RAY MAG: What are your favorite dive sites?
All my dive sites are around St. Lucia. The best is Anse Chastanet, then Anse Cochon, the Pitons reserve, and then there is Maria Island, with its pristine flat waters (...)
"My work reflects that time in my life when I was so excited to discover new fish, scary crabs and to swim in what looked like liquid diamonds."