Don Dyson: Traveling Landscape Painter

Traveling artist Don Dyson roams the country with his family making a living by painting outdoor scenes and selling his paintings as he travels.

| July/August 1970

Landscape artist

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.

Photo by Fotolia/Vanhart

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.

8/5/2017 10:19:28 PM

I feel so humbled and lucky. I loved Don's paintings since I was young kid. My remember when my dad spoke to him outside at the Santa Monica beach during one of the family travels in California. I was listening intently trying to hear their conversation. My dad was laughing with him, I can only imagine what they were discussing. My dad reached into his back pocket, pulled out his bill fold, pulled out some bills and handed them to him. Don walked back to his bus, brought a stack of his paintings over to our car and layer them in our trunk...little did I know my dad was helping out Don with buying all he had left in his possession. I remember Mrs. Dyson coming out and hugging my dad. They all talked for a little longer and we left. Today, after 40 years I have them. About 15 out of frame. 10 framed. Beautiful and so so much of it reminds me of this day. I'll never forget that day. Reach me at I'd be happy to share them with you. Blessings to all!!

12/26/2013 11:22:18 PM

Today I purchased a Don Dyson painting. I looked him up and found this article. To my surprise, I actually have the exact same painting that is in the first picture, of 2 deer by a lake with the sunset in the background. It is definatly an original, not print. Does anybody know where the painting was set, or even how much it is worth? Thank you

4/20/2011 2:17:11 PM

We have 3 of Don Dyson painting and 2 of then or hinging in our home and Debbie has one the one of the ocean and the other is woods

janel brandt
2/13/2011 10:57:11 AM

My grandmother had a 2' x 4' Don Dyson painting hanging over her couch in her living room for as long as I can remember. The story behind it was that Don Dyson stayed with them for several months in Bowdle while he was traveling and painting. My grandparents owned a restaurant and this is where my grandfather met Don and learned that he was looking for a place to stay. It may have been in his early travels as there is no mention of a wife or children. When Don was ready to move on, he paid my grandparents for the room and board with the painting. When my grandmother passed away in 1984, my mother asked if there was any memorabilia that I wanted from the house, I picked the painting; just because of the story that she would tell about meeting Don and his stay with them. My parents stored the painting for me up until about 5 years ago when we built a house and finally have room for it. I was just working in the room where it is hanging and wondered if there was any information about the artist on the internet and found this page. It really doesn't matter what the painting is worth as it is such a wonderful memory of my grandparents and the visits I had at there home.

carol smith
12/16/2010 1:09:19 AM

I have a Dyson painting I need to sell. Are they worth much. I don't want to give it away. It has been in my family for many years. I can't take it with me to India. It was painted in front of Fed Mart (no longer there) when I was a teenager. Maybe there was another Don Dyson. He painted this in less than 1/2 hour. In San Diego.

chris rosas
11/14/2010 4:07:46 PM

Greetings, response to: Marlys Dooley 11/1/20010 11:48 am Don Dyson was my uncle. I would like to see his paintings and would like to know more about the type of paintings he did. Are thsy oil paintings? I recently heard of his work and my daughter is studying art in highschool. CR

marlys dooley
11/4/2010 11:48:24 AM

Don Dyson was my uncle. For years he lived with my mother in Pipestone MN while he was traveling/painting scenic pictures. He married Gladys who had several children, and they had one of their own. He had "historical farming" pictures displayed for years in a museum in Californis, which I recently heard are going to be removed.

5/5/2010 2:21:10 AM

I recently inherited a painting from my grandfather who died in 2008. Neither my mother nor her sister had any interest in keeping it, but I remembered the strange surreal quality of the image on his bedroom wall and asked if I could have it. I didn't care who had painted it or where it had come from. I adored this image. When I finally had it in my possession, I was curious to find clues as to how it had come into grandpa's hands. There in the right hand corner was the signature "Don Dyson". And so began the websearch. My mom and aunt did, in fact, travel extensively by car with their parents in the 50s and 60s, however they have no recollection regarding the origin of this painting. I'd like to talk to others who may have Dyson paintings, if possible.

3/3/2010 12:04:53 PM

I have just found an Orginal Don Dyson oil painting that was painted in pipestone mn I cant find any infor on don dyson and was wondering if anyone could help me i did find one articil that called him a roaming painter and said he and his family traveled around in a motor home thats all i could find anyone have anything else thanks lori

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