Friday, May 31, 2019

Tales from the Back Road Artists, Mary and Al Hone

Tales from the Back Road artists RV

Riddle: If you are a couple who are living the full-time RV life--and are also professional artists, a sculptor and a photographer--how do you store all your necessaries in a tiny trailer?

Answer: You buy a "tiny trailer" that is a 39-foot Heartland Bighorn 5th wheel--and pull it with a Ram 1-ton dualy.

Mary and Al Hone are artists who have been "livin' the dream" of full-time RV life for seven years, and all the while also living the dream of being full-time artists: Mary a photographer and Al the sculptor.

Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone

They now roll with their 5th wheel Bighorn but started off with a different 5th wheel, changing to their current rig when they realized the old rig "wasn't going to work out. It didn't have the storage we needed for our art, and it just wasn't built for full-time life." They chronicle their adventures and their art on their travel blog, Tales from the Back Road, sharing their journey with their two dogs, Roxy and Torrey.
We live and travel full time in our 5th wheel trailer, going to art shows to show our wares, and just exploring every new place we find ourselves in. We travel to so many places, see so many great things, and meet interesting and fun people along the way. We create our art and get our inspiration from all the beautiful places we land. How can you not be inspired when this is your 'yard.'
Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone

When asked whether they had ever considered going more "tiny" in their travels, the answer was a "yes, but . . ." Living in their rig full time and carrying equipment requires substantial space. "We would love to go smaller, but right now it's just not possible. We have to carry an art show tent, bronzes, wall art, just so much stuff. We need every square inch of storage we have now, and could probably use more so we could carry more inventory."
I carry all my photo equipment, and even have a large 13" professional printer so I can print smaller stuff on the road. Al will sculpt in the RV, or even outside then take the finished clay to the foundry to be cast. We create the mixed media pieces when we are in Utah near our shop/studio. Two years ago Al had a custom order for a carved bar and actually brought his carving tools and wood, and worked on the piece most of the winter in the desert. We have solar power, so he was able to operate his power carver in the middle of nowhere, which was very nice.
Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone

Al creates sculptures in bronze and in wood since 2001. Al's work with wood includes both sculpture and hand-carved furniture. He feels his art and craft is "always evolving, improving," and that he is continually "trying new things." His work can be seen at Al Hone Fine Art, and at art shows throughout the year. Tales from the Back Road has an Artwork and Art Shows page for more information.

Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone
"The Storyteller," Al Hone

"I have been creating art most of my life," says Al. "As a third generation woodworker, I learned from an early age about balance, design, and most of all quality in the finished product. My art really came to life when I began creating functional pieces of art. Sculpting the wood, designing each piece, and making something completely unique enabled me to explore my art even further. Seeing the positive reaction from the new owners of a one of a kind piece, whether it’s my own design, or theirs, gives me great satisfaction."

Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone
"Rainy Days," Al Hone

"Taking the step into bronze sculpture was a natural progression," Al continues, "and I love the freedom of artistic expression I can achieve with that medium. In every sculpture I  infuse emotion, a story, and a connection to the viewer.The ability to express yourself through art is a gift, and should be shared with others. As an artist I believe art can not only be visually pleasing, but should also touch on the viewers' emotions."

Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone

Mary is the photographer, who works in mixed media art, which can be found at outdoor art shows and Lunds Fine Art Gallery in Park City, Utah. "What started as a way to chronicle our journey on the blog, my photography has become a full blown passion."
When you travel full-time in an RV, there is always something to see and photograph. Wonderful scenery, great wildlife, and a variety of interesting things. My art has grown and evolved, and I'm always pushing myself to be better. I want to bring the viewers of my photos a new way of looking at the world around us.
Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone

Roxy and Torrey are the Hones' pets, "the best dogs ever." Roxy is described as "a spunky Pomeranian/Chihuahua who loves snuggling, hiking, and meeting new people." Torrey, a miniature Australian Shepherd, "is the happiest dog and has a real love for life. Hiking, exploring, and hanging with her people are her favorites." The dogs love their life of travel and "having a new back yard all the time."

And life with the Hones is a life of travel. They generally go the same route through the year, although they always try to go new places within those states. They spend the summer months in the Jackson, Wyoming, area and also in Montana and Idaho. "We promote three shows in Jackson so that definitely dictates us going there. We also do an art show in Bozeman, Montana, and have done some in Idaho in the past. Fall and spring we are in Utah where we still own a studio. This is where all the art is actually created. Winter we spend in Arizona, doing art shows there."

Basically, they create their art in spring and fall, then hit the road to sell it. "We boondock probably ninety-five percent of the time. We will stay in campgrounds if there is nowhere else near art shows to stay, as sometimes happens in Arizona." Even though they boondock a lot, they still usually at least have some cellphone receptivity. "Coverage has gotten so much better over the years. We might only have 3g, or it's really slow in general but we can usually at least check emails."

If you are interested in the nitty-gritty of how the Hones boondock--sometimes with their big rig for two weeks at a time--and deal with water, electricity, food, and disposal, their blog article "How We Full Time RV and Boondock All the Time" explains how they do it, with words and photos.

One of their favorite places to camp is near the wild horses in Utah, and that is also photographically motivated. They also enjoy the Jackson, Wyoming, area, which Mary feels is "a photographer's paradise." Al find inspiration for new sculptures or his digital art from the wildlife encountered during their camping travels. He takes photos as references for his art.

Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone
Multi-media photo by Mary; table by Al

There is definitely a relationship between their art and their lifestyle. For Mary, "it's the wildlife we encounter everywhere." Wildlife photography is her photographic passion. "My new fine art photography pieces, and in turn the mixed media art created from them, wouldn't be possible without good photo subjects. I am always looking for something different in regards to photographing wildlife, and that is the start of the art process for me."

As a sculptor, Al watches the movements of the animals, and studies their bodies and muscle structure. Mary says that he "is very accurate in the anatomy of his sculptures, and a lot of that is simply from observation." Al sums up his inspirational lifestyle with the observation that creating his art on the road "allows me the freedom of expression that art needs in order to grow."

Tales from the Back Road artists Mary Hone and Al Hone

The Hones feel they will continue their full-time RV life for some time "and have no plans to quit until we have to. "We would like to relocate our shop/studio to someplace better, and that is hopefully something that can happen in the near future. We like Arizona and will probably try to find someplace there. We would like to eventually have a small home there, too, as it's where we would like to 'retire' if that's a thing."

In the meantime, as Al says, they will continue to find artistic inspiration "from all the beautiful places we go."

(All photographs in this article were taken by Al and Mary Hone, used with permission. Contact the Hones at their webpage if seeking permission.)

(To read all the Green Goddess Glamping art and craft articles, check out the Art and Craft Activities label URL, which aggregates all similar posts.)

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  1. Thanks so much for featuring us, and our art. Great article!

    1. I'm interested in the itinerant lifestyle, and especially with creativity and nature. Thanks for providing me with the information for writing!

  2. I love their work, have been following them for a little bit now. Her wild horse shots are fabulous! And his sculpture is magnificent!

  3. Yes, I was searching for blogs about people living full-time in their campers and came across Al and Mary. Truly captivating!