Danny Shervin was in college, drinking and playing with gunpowder as he and his friends tried to make miniature rockets and explosives, when a bunch of the incendiary grains spilled on their linoleum kitchen table.
In a stroke of genius, he organized it into a tree shape, set it on fire, and boom: art happened.
“Growing up, I always was into art,” Shervin told Task & Purpose. But instead of going to art school, he studied business in college. It wasn’t until five years ago that he really started to get into painting with gunpowder.
“I hadn’t heard of anybody using gunpowder as a medium before, so I did a little research,” he said. “There’s a guy in China that uses gunpowder, but it’s quite different than what I’ve been doing.”
Most of Shervin’s works are inspired by nature. Living near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, there’s no shortage of subjects for his paintings.
“I always loved animals, been into wildlife art,” he said. “I have done a little bit of landscape art, but it’s primarily animals. I spend a lot of time outdoors.”
Shervin primarily works on regular canvas, and as far as a wood surface goes, it’s usually birch. The type of gunpowder he typically uses isn’t particularly flammable, so it doesn’t burn through the canvas.
“Some burn hotter than others,” he said. “It’s been a lot of trial and error.”
Each piece Shervin creates takes a different amount of time to finish, with some needing only four or five hours, and others requiring 40.
“Just to lay it out and have it burn… it’s pretty cool,” Shervin said.
His gallery and available work is hosted on his site Paint With Gunpowder. Prints start as low as $45, but some of the larger, more detailed custom works cost as much as $5,000.