Veteran gives back to community with his artwork
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – One veteran is using his talent to not only help out non-profit organizations around town but also encourage others to find a passion once they get back from serving.
Matthew Billings has always enjoyed working with ink and graphite, but he didn’t pick up his first paintbrush until he got out of the Navy in 2014.
“It became my addiction,” he said. “I fell in love with it. I couldn’t stop doing it.”
He enlisted in 2005. He went to Iraq from 2006 to 2007 and to Afghanistan from 2013 to 2014 but his plans to do 20 years of service were cut short by a decade.
“Injuries and medical conditions come up and they just don’t want you anymore,” he said. “I did what I could. In time and after they let me go, I just went crazy into this.”
He said the painting calmed him.
“I would recommend this to everybody who gets back,” he said. “At least find something to throw yourself into.”
Right now, his biggest influence is his wife, Stephanie.
“She is so supportive of everything that I do,” he said. “I have progressed 10 times better than I was before.”
He’s starting to donate his paintings to reputable non-profits for their own fundraisers.
“Probably 20 or 25 have been started in the last six months,” Stephanie said. “It’s amazing. We call it magic.”
That magic is now being shared with others for a good cause.
“You got to find new purpose so I figured I could do this," he said. “Do stuff for other people with it. God gives you abilities you might as well give back. Just do it. It’ll come right back to you.”
Billings has his own art show this Sunday starting at 4 p.m. at The Fur Shop in downtown Tulsa.
He’s currently working with Soldier’s Wish to find ways to give back.