Matt Tumlinson is hoping to start some thoughtful conversations by creating stunning oil-based paintings made solely of empty brass bullet casings.
“One of the traits that I love most about the arts is the story behind a piece, what influences led the artist to create such work, and how viewing it makes us contemplate our own story,” Tumlinson writes on his website.
Tumlinson was first inspired to create these paintings back in 2011. He was working at a local gun range called A Place to Shoot. He realized that the tiny brass casings that were scattered across the ground could stand for something so much bigger.
“I liked the message you can send – that it’s a little piece of brass that sparks a huge debate in our society,” he told mySA.com. “I knew I wanted to do something with it.”
The process of creation is extensive. Each piece takes approximately 2,000 shell casings and a couple of months to complete. Step one is sorting out the shells and matching sizes before they are adhered one by one to a wooden board. But that’s only the beginning. Next, a mop brush creates the different shades by using oil-based as well as transparent acrylics.
Thousands of bullet casings and five years later, Tumlinson now has an incredible collection of art to show for it. Portraits of Native Americans and cowboys as well as patriotic symbols and animals are hanging in galleries around Fredericksburg and San Antonio. Prices for these works of art range from $680 to $3,800. Tomlinson hopes what people get from them will be worth much more than the price tag.
Though he wishes for his paintings to be portrayed as ambiguous, he knows some will question whether he’s for or against guns.
“Some people are going to look at a painting and think of me in a ‘pro’ way and others will think I’m against it,” he says. “It depends on your perspective […] I love to see people with two backgrounds look at my paintings and see them in opposite ways and start a dialogue.”
Tumlinson’s paintings are on display at the River Rustic Gallery in Fredericksburg and a South Flores Street gallery. They are on viewing by appointment until Sunday. For more information and to make an appointment, visit Tumlinson’s website.