Angono’s child—Blanco heir—does art of optimism

Student artist Lemuel Blanco presents art that is uplifting, reminding us of better times, and looking forward to better future

Twenty-year-old University of Santo Tomas junior Lemuel Blanco literally grew up with a paint brush. Belonging to the third generation of a family of artists from Angono, Rizal—a community known for its art heritage and the hometown of foremost Filipino painter Jose Blanco—Lemuel started creating art when he was two years old, doing simple drawings and doodlings on paper, using materials on hand, such as crayons, pencils, pens and markers.

His first painting, which he made at age four, was even part of an exhibition in the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, and New York in celebration of the Philippine’s 107th Independence Day. 

“My art is mostly traditional, for I love the tactility of this approach in creating art. There is a real difference when you have the access to the actual materials. The brushes, paints, and canvases among others, all contribute to the workflow of my work,” he said.

“My art is mostly traditional, for I love the tactility of this approach in creating art.”

Blanco said that his style is always changing—“I see no barriers between myself and the possibilities I can explore, and with that said, I am exploring art that is primarily of a realist nature.”

Certain themes echo in Blanco’s creations. “I, for now, focus on love, hope, and joy, presenting art that is for me, uplifting, reminding us of better times in the past, and something that we may look forward to in the future.”

Through his art, he encourages others to see the present in a better light. “To move about with graceful lives filled with hope, love, and generosity.”

He admitted art made him cope and gave some meaning in a confusing world of turmoil in the pandemic which he terms it as being in a limbo. Art became a sanctuary; not staying in one place, moving forward, and seeing that we can help in whatever way we can.

Lemuel Blanco with his father, Jan, mother, Jaz and younger brother Justin

“We all strive to make a difference, make change that is both necessary and beneficial to ourselves and everyone,” Blanco said. “I keep myself hopeful, and now I see the time as even more precious, spending it with my family, and making the most of what I have.”

But he added that the pandemic made more apparent the rampant injustices, intensifying the need to take action in any way we can.

Aside from painting, Blanco has other creative pursuits such as music, books, theater and acting. He is also busy working on his family’s website, https//  

This Fine Arts Major in Painting lists French artist, Pierre Auguste Renoir, as a source of inspiration. He looks up to his father, Jan P. Blanco, and grandfather, the muralist Jose “Pitok” Blanco, whose career spanned four decades and was nominated as National Artist. He was known for his rich and celebratory folk realism art pieces, particularly about Angono life. One of his known works, the “Angono Town Fiesta,” depicts more than a hundred figures who are said to be based on Jose Blanco’s townmates. He even included himself in the scene, cuddling his grandchild. Another work of his was acquired by the Rockefeller Foundation of New York.

Lemuel Blanco beside his grandfather’s painting, “Pahiyas festival”

The youngest Blanco gives recognition to his father and grandfather for leaving an art legacy. He remembers their words of advice, “Make the most of our time and value every moment.”

Another poignant advice— “When we finally affix our signature into a painting, we must recognize the necessity to move on.” In essence, with every project, he said, we do our best, strive for greater heights in the next.

“The tree stump trail Madonna”

He is also exploring digital art but admits his works in that medium are far from satisfactory. “What I love most about digital art is the way I can easily save my artwork in my Cloud Storage. The approach tends to be portable, and in our contemporary times, most useful.”

And like most students in this pandemic, he does miss going to school. The pandemic presents its own set of difficulties. “There is an aspect of student life that I think most of us miss— before, when we are in the classroom together, we can see each other’s work. It is not to compare but rather, appreciate the creation my classmates have made, and in a way learn from them.”

That to him is the one of the biggest drawbacks of online classes.

But Blanco is set to move forward. “I foresee creating a collection of paintings that are thematically anchored to the Philippine culture, though with an approach that I have never done before.” He envisions too a dream commission where he create a series of paintings on the most complex of situations, in our world full of questions.

“Possibilities are endless, and as a youth, I can only hope for the best, expect the worst, and strive towards better times.”

Self-portrait entitled, “Sunrise”

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