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Painting Panels: How One LA Artist Perfects His Craft By Using Automotive Paint

Published on Fri, Feb 14, 2020

By: Collin Morgan

“Automotive paint is the medium; aluminum sheet metal is the canvas. This passion for art is intertwined with a love for restoring vintage automobiles… They are one.” – Julio Ramos

Julio’s website:

What: Julio Ramos Art Exhibition
Where: Cal America, 1137 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles 90024
When: March 7, 2020 6-9pm

Meet Julio Ramos. Julio owns Mulholland Motorsport in West LA performing body work, restorations and Lotus service. While his shop excels at making supercars look good-as-new, Mr. Ramos uses his spare time to create stunning pieces of art using something quite unique: automotive paint. By using sheets of aluminum, he breathes life into the cold, silver canvases.

Julio Ramos
Julio Ramos

LACar Questions
First car? 1980 Honda Civic
Dream car? 1984 Ferrari 308
Favorite LA activity? Visiting the Japanese Nursery
Favorite LA drive? Mulholland Drive
Passion? Restoring cars, using the paint for art

Julio has been around cars since the early years of his life, and he attended auto body shop class in high school. Thanks to his passion for cars, it’s no wonder that he has a knack for this kind of art. Some of his pieces are vibrant and flowing, bursting with color and energy. Others are dark, fluid vacancies of light brought to life by a splash of contrasting hues. And still others are defined lines, much like what you see on cars today.

‘2020 No. 6’ By Julio Ramos
‘2020 No. 6’ By Julio Ramos

I had the pleasure of talking with Julio, and I was curious as to where he gets his inspiration for his pieces. Without hesitation, he said, “Most of my inspiration comes from cars that I’ve worked on or restored, and I repurpose the paint from those repairs, using it for my art. Sometimes it comes from just random people I meet or random thoughts, nothing planned. I can’t recreate them, they’re all unique. If you ask me to paint one that you like, I can never do it the same, I just don’t know how.”

‘2020 No. 9/10’ By Julio Ramos
‘2020 No. 9/10’ By Julio Ramos
Ford GT40 (photo by Marcus Spiske)
Ford GT40 (photo by Marcus Spiske)

The gorgeous blue and orange paintings featured in this article are a direct influence of the iconic Heritage Blue Ford GT40. “The heritage blue I’ve used on many paintings is from the GT40. When you mix that paint, there about 8 toners that make that heritage blue, so sometimes I decompose the toners that float on top of the major toner and I create a painting based on just the paint formula,” said Julio.

Julio also mentioned that when he paints, he uses layers over layers, topped with a clearcoat to make it very durable just like any other car panel. He uses various types of paint like metal-flake to add texture and depth.

‘Laguna Seca’ By Julio Ramos
‘Laguna Seca’ By Julio Ramos

When I asked Julio about how he discovered this method, he replied: “In the beginning I poured paint on a panel because I wanted to create an amazon tree frog shape, and the paint started reacting in its own way. I never knew that automotive paint could be used in what I do, so for me it’s kind of experimental. I was trying to replicate what I used to do as a kid, taking art classes in high school, just trying to see if I can make the paint react in the same way. One of the techniques I learned was kind of on accident. I was walking with some paint flake and I tripped, and some of it fell on the paint that I was working on, and I really liked how it looked.”

‘2020 No. 10’ By Julio Ramos
‘2020 No. 10’ By Julio Ramos

Julio is very excited to announce the opening of his exhibition on March 7, 2020. Many of his pieces will be on display from 6-9pm at Cal American, located at 1137 Westwood Blvd, LA, CA 90024. You seriously can’t miss this. What an opportunity to support a local artist and to see some breathtaking artwork up close.

From all of us at LACar, keep up the great work Julio!

Julio’s website:

Check him out on Instagram @cooljuls

Julio’s shop’s Instagram: @mulholland_motorsports

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