Traveling artist Don Dyson roams the country with his family making a living by painting outdoor scenes and selling his paintings as he travels.
Reprinted with permission of Motorhome Life.
A studio motorhome started its travels from Selby, North Dakota, with artist Don Dyson, a landscape painter, at the wheel. Mrs. Dyson and seven children, ranging in age from 9 to 17, accompanied him, in the converted Oneida bus. The 66-passenger bus was purchased in Superior, Wisconsin, and remodeled by the Dysons. Don needed changes of scenes for his work; the rest of the family was delighted to go along.
As a roving landscape painter, Don soon found sales coming from fellow travelers on the road. Neighbors in overnight campgrounds or at scenic highway pullouts invariably seemed to be attracted by the sight of a painter at work. When they discovered they could buy an original showing the view where they had stayed or stopped, many ordered a painting on the spot.
Don works at top speed, can turn out a 2x4 foot panel in 30 minutes or less. While his customer watches, or takes time out for a cup of coffee, Don can have a landscape or seascape painting ready for framing. He can also create a mural in any blank space in a customer's RecV.*
When the Dysons pulled up their North Dakota stakes, they had no idea that business would develop among RecV enthusiasts like themselves. They found that most areas required no city or county licenses for this type of enterprise, thus the only expense was cost of materials. Today Don works any hours he chooses, never has to dress up to impress his prospects. Anyone who wants a painting makes up has mind quickly since both he and the artist are on the move. Don's prices reflect his low overhead and most potential customers jump at this unique opportunity to own an "original Dyson."
Fifteen years of RecV experience in other types of rigs gave the Dyson family a working background for becoming full time motorhomers. Mrs. Dyson mastered both living in and driving the 12-ton, 10-shift bus. When this "studio" moves to a new location, the kids enjoy changing schools. However, they have more fun during vacation periods when there are no restrictions on the Dysons' roaming instincts. Special expenses relating to the motorhome have proved surprisingly low. Insurance premiums have been comparable to average car coverage while the license for a North Dakota housecar is only $19.70 a year. Don works on the theory of preventive maintenance through regular servicing and this has kept repairs to a minimum.
As far as 53-year old Don Dyson is concerned, there are emphatically no drawbacks to being an itinerant painter — if you have a motorhome for a studio and room to take the family along.
* RecV = Recreational Value