Art Allows Expression When There are No Words

Author: Andres Ramos, Jr.

The desire was latent in me for a long time even though painting has always been a passion of mine. My parents, especially my mom, pushed me in that direction as a child. I enjoyed portrait realism paintings growing up in Lorain, Ohio.

My son Jose enjoyed art too. He went to Campbell University, graduating in 2008 with a degree in art. Jose grew up fascinated with abstract art, which was quite different than the portraits I was into. When Jose was a senior in high school we had a discussion one day about abstract art. We talked about our differences in understanding abstract vs. realism. I never understood it.

Jose was killed on November 29, 2017. What followed was a time of darkness for me. I was lost trying to cope with his passing.

Rainbow Showers at night with the visible star that honors JoseMara Ramos presenting TAPS Founder and President Bonnie Carroll with one of Andres' paintings.

One night almost a year later I saw a YouTube video that changed everything for me. It was about an abstract art form called acrylic pouring. I finally understood what Jose had always tried to explain to me.

That moment is truly when my journey through art began. My passion for art was reawakened and I knew this was a way I could honor Jose.

I started learning about acrylic pouring and the many different styles. As my passion grew I realized how relaxing painting was. It has helped me in understanding why Jose really enjoyed abstract art.

Energy suddenly sprung out of me – energy I badly needed. Paint spoke to me in a way that nothing else could. I paint so that the eye can see what the inner eye knows. I pain because there is a deep desire for me to give expression to the things I don’t have words for. Each piece is unique and cannot be duplicated.


Committment of a Soldier, Heart of an Artist

Jose’s personality was quiet and respectable in front of his elders. His mom wouldn’t have it any other way! With his friends he was always happy and possessed an unbelievable smile. And he was generous; he’d give you his last dollar or the shirt off his back if you needed it.

When he entered the Army, he informed us that he would be going to Airborne school. I was surprised, for as a child, he never rode any amusement park rides that involved heights.

Andres' work on display at the North Carolina Arts Council 10-10-10 Art Exhibit.Andres' work on display at the North Carolina Arts Council 10-10-10 Art Exhibit.

He took this incredible step to conquer his fear. That was a very proud moment for me to pin his Airborne wings during his graduation.

He was a second-generation Airborne graduate, following in my footsteps. He also conquered his fear of heights on a roller coaster during Memorial Day weekend of 2017 at Carowinds, an amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina. We rode roller coasters together just like me and my dad did when I was a child.

I know he would be and is proud of what I am doing. This past fall, I was honored to be a featured artist in a Fayetteville, North Carolina, art exhibit. I have now found a way to honor him in every painting that I do. Hidden in each painting you’ll find a gold dot that can be seen during the day. At night that same gold dot turns into an illuminated star. This is Jose always looking down upon us.


Rainbow Showers at night with the visible star that honors Jose"Rainbow Showers" at night with the visible star that honors Jose.

Finding Comfort in Art and in TAPS

Of all the paintings I have completed, my favorite is titled “Rainbow Showers.” I gave it to my wife, Mara, this past December as a Christmas gift. The painting displays a mother and a daughter, standing over a tombstone in the rain – a scene I have seen many times with my wife and our daughter, Mara. Everything is about honoring Jose and that is what I see in that painting.

Painting reveals on the surface what is happening underneath. It has taught me to stop hiding who I am and to step beyond the fear of rejection regardless of what happens. I now can answer this simple question, “Why do I paint?” For the pure excitement of taking a blank canvas and making something special.

Andres Ramos, Jr. is the surviving stepfather of Specialist Jose J. Melendez, Jr., U.S. Army

Photos courtesy of Andres Ramos, Jr.