John Ballantyne was born in 1944, Montréal Québec. Currently he lives and works in Sutton, Québec. His earliest painting classes were with Alfred Pinsky and Arthur Lismer. Following high school, he studied civil engineering but finally, in 1967, left these studies to return to his first love, painting.
In 1968, he joined the New School of Art in Toronto. After one year he left to work in France. In Nice he worked in the Centre artistique de rencontres internationales, part of l'École nationale d'art décoratif de Nice. In 1970, he was offered a studio in the village of Cagnes near Nice. There he began his work surrounded by the spirits of Renoir, Modigliani, Soutine and Pissarro. His work quickly evolved from colour-field through photo-realism into a soft, quiet sort of realism called by his critics hyper-surrealism.
Following some early successes in England and France, John returned to Québec in late 1973. He set up a studio outside of Sutton in order to develop his work in a more isolated environment. From Sutton his works have found their way around the world and into collections across Canada, the United States, France, England and Denmark.
In 1973 he was honoured by Salon d’Été, Grasse, France Médaille d'or (Gold medal) and in 1994 he became a member of The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.