It’s not just Angel’s paintings that are magic. It’s his entire vibe.
Finding Angel was a stroke of dumb luck. I was searching for online art programs in 2020 to help breathe life back into my soul and I stumbled across a platform/school called Pushing Colored Dirt (sadly no longer around!) I signed up for their landscape painting class taught by the master himself: Angel Ramos. I truly believe I’ll look back in 20 years and still believe with all my heart and soul that it was this class that changed everything for me.
Angel is soft spoken in a way that automatically brings your guard down. He can give you a direct and honest critique of your work and it never registers as personal or snippy. He is the first teacher I’ve had to immediately pin point my issue and give me simple solutions. For example, the first few paintings I submitted were fussy and overcomplicated. He could see immediately that I was struggling to simplify my references into larger shapes. My assignment was then to cut out large shapes with construction paper and create a landscape using just those shapes. It sounds incredibly rudimentary, and it is, but it was a game changer for me… and it helped the idea click in my head. I can’t think of a more telling mark of a great teacher than that. I still think about it and try to imagine complicated images as a series of shapes cut out of paper.
However, my favorite Angelism is this: Draw every day. When he first said that I just rolled my eyes (sorry, Angel!) but then he followed it up with this—and this will stick with me FOREVER:
The reason artists need to draw every day is the same reason NBA players practice regularly and Olympic athletes spend their entire lives training. If the only time you painted was when you needed to create a masterpiece, it would likely be a colossal failure. Drawing and painting daily takes the pressure off and gets you (figuratively) “in shape” so that when it’s game time, you can approach the canvas confidently at your best.
I had never in my life heard it explained that way and it stuck with me so much that it’s the reason I created Art unBlocks. I wanted to make it easy to create daily so I made dice to give me prompts. I even chose the dice colors from one of Angel’s paintings and he was lovely enough to do the featured artwork in each box.
There are so many things he says as off-the-cuff remarks that I believe took most artists decades to realize. I am still referring back to my notes with him and realizing the brilliance of a cool specular highlight on a warm highlight.
I would be remiss if I did not send people his way. I’m not sure what his plans are for teaching in the future (though the world is definitely better off with him as a teacher!) he is also a fabulous working artist. He can be found on Instagram @ugly.colors, and he has an online shop for prints and original paintings.
Left: The piece Angel created for Art unBlocks; Right: Angel’s painting that inspired the dice colors. Main Image/Title piece: “Boots and Gloves” by Angel Ramos