Painting from within

‘LAVANDERA’ (2019).

With nothing to do during the mandatory quarantine in January upon arrival from his adopted country, Canada, Edgardo “Ed” Lantin took out his art materials and started to paint scenes seen from his hotel room window in Quezon City, eventually creating a dozen minute yet arresting realist works.

Lantin has been shuttling between Canada and the Philippines, staying in his home country in the first half of the year and the rest in his Vancouver home where he lives with his wife and two children.

Remaining simple and unassuming despite being a prominent portrait artist, Lantin has spent more than 30 years here and abroad mastering his craft.

Going home in the time of a pandemic was not that easy as there was always a risk of being infected but he pushed through with his trip to personally deliver commissioned works including portraits of China Bank’s past and present presidents. During quarantine, he uplifted his spirits by creating rather than being brought down by boredom and repetitive activities.


Lantin’s body of works is reminiscent of the great masters of the world such as those he looks up to: Honoré Daumier, Camille Pissarro, Diego Velasquez and Joaquin Sorolla. Other masters he admires include the Filipino Juan Luna, Felix Hidalgo and the legendary Fernando Amorsolo.

‘Paris series’ (2018).

He is a realist painter with a tendency towards impressionism, incorporating in his depictions of his subjects their emotions, personal traits and mannerisms, thus creating masterpieces that breathe with life and soul. He would also “focus on the tactile qualities of the subjects but not to the extent of copying every detail.” He would articulate this when expressing how to paint a face.

“I don’t paint every dip and fold but I would rather concentrate on the character, gestures and the soul of the sitter, and if I paint a tree, I don’t focus on each leaf. Instead, I focus on their big masses and shapes,” he said.

His subjects are varied although he is widely known for his executions of the human body and anatomy. His proclivity for the human form and appearance started in his hometown, Lipa, Batangas during his younger years when his father was running for the vice mayoral post in the city. Town mates and constituents would visit their house every day to seek help, among other purposes.


Another unknown chapter in his storied career as an artist was when he would draw models for his mother’s vocational school where she taught typing and hairstyling, among others.

His drawings during the Yuletide season also graced the bulletin board of the De La Salle Lipa, his high school alma mater.

Chance meeting

Lantin would always say that he started late in pursuing art, going full time 11 years after graduating from the University of Santo Tomas with a Fine Arts degree in 1976 and six years after moving to Canada in 1981.

He trained under Sofronio Y. Mendoza (SYM) in Canada and in the prestigious art institutions in New York, which were instrumental in the way he would tackle his subjects.

His big break came following an accidental meeting with Nan Drysdale, a political figure in Canada who was introduced to him by his sister-in-law in 1990. Lantin asked Drysdale if he could paint her as he is building his portfolio at that time to which she agreed.

He then gave the painting to Drysdale as a gift but after a couple of years, he was surprised to receive a call from her lawyer saying that she passed away and he was included in her will. The will instructs the return of the painting. He was also given some cash which he used to return to the country of his birth.

“It was my break as an artist to be here again in the Philippines and explore possibilities for commissioned works” Lantin said.

He eventually painted the presidential portrait of Benigno Aquino III, a proud moment for him as this work was displayed beside other presidential portraits in Malacañang done by famed Filipino artists such as Amorsolo. He had previously painted former president and democracy icon Corazon Aquino in 1989.

Character sketches (2018).

Apart from presidential portraits, another personal accomplishment for him was painting a living National Artist. The opportunity came when he chanced upon Ramon Santos in a concert in 2015.

“He had a beautiful character to draw,” said Lantin who initially sketched and then painted Santos using photographs he took of the latter the following year.

Class act

For his mastery and dedication to his craft, Lantin, who is also a sculptor, was featured in the prestigious International Artists magazine in 2003 and had earned awards in the United States and Canada.

In 1998, he was honored as one of the Outstanding Filipinos in the art and culture sector during the Philippine Centennial celebrations in Canada.

He had participated in more than a dozen group shows, notably “Homage to Masters II” at the Metropolitan Museum in Manila in 2002; “Spilsbury Medal Show” of the Federation of Canadian Artists in Vancouver in 2003; and “Dimasalang Artist Celebrating 40 Years” exhibition in Mandaluyong and Vancouver in 2008 and 2009 with Filipino greats such as Sofronio Mendoza and Romulo Galicano.

He has also mounted solo shows entitled “Inner Light” in 2011 at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City and “Portraits” in 1994 and 1995 in British Columbia, Canada and Seattle, Washington. His first one-man show was held in Vancouver, entitled “Commissioned Portraits, Figurative Compositions and Landscapes,” in 1993.

Lantin is a founding member of the Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists which was established in the 1990s.

Inner peace

The late Ruben Cañete described Lantin’s works as “conveying a sense of inner peace (sic) and a quiet, almost mystical contemplation of things, even if a scene is a bustling market.”

Ramas noted that Lantin “sees a portrait as a vivid assertion of visual and personal truth, caught a decisive moment in time, which is heightened by his unique use of light and shadow.”

But above all the praises and achievements, it’s his modest character that makes him a great artist, a creator of works that are truly world-class.


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