My Trip to The Desert.

I recently came across the challenge to take a trip to Las Vegas and beyond to performance paint. I decided within two seconds to take that trek. And here is what happened….

My portable spinning easel ready for take off.


First I had the issue of bringing the spinning easel on a jetliner. I was pressed for time and packed up quickly to catch my flight in St Louis. My friend and trusted driver Jacob took the wheel while I proceeded to dismantle the easel and re-assemble it in a more compact version to meet the limitations of Delta’s size and weight requirements in the back of his van. Speeding down 55 to make the plane was not the most ideal place to be making a reliable strong easel, but I accomplished it. I was able to fit all my tools, stretcher bars, and brushes in the boundaries of the size and weight rules. Fifty pounds was the maximum wight allowed and my easel was fifty ponds on the dot. I thought it to look like a milk crate R2-D2.


I missed my flight by 10 seconds. Typical, but that did not falter my spirits to make it west to paint in the desert. I was able to get another ticket at no charge in first class. I like to travel in style anyway.

Painting on the Strip of Downtown Las Vegas. Photo by Josh Shaw

Once I got to the hotel room I went immediately to the dismantlement of the “flight friendly” easel to rebuild it for street use. I am sure that the guests next door had no clue what we were up to with the sawing, hammering, and construction of canvas and making the wheels fit again. I had some troubles but found all the trinkets I needed for it to work. Once it was ready I took for the streets of Vegas with my friend and photographer to feel some energy and paint with it. He took some great pictures of the experience too.

The streets of Las Vegas, Nevada are alive. Photo by Josh Shaw.

I discovered the energy of the crowds of Vegas to be almost too much, but was able to focus after I felt comfortable with the area and groove.

I have never been to Las Vegas before but have heard lots of stories. I was not disappointed.  I did not go to gamble or party to the point of shame the next sobering morning… I went to paint and feel the rush of an audience. I went to paint to feel alive and be ready for my upcoming mural projects upon my return to Springfield. I needed this adventure for my artistic flow to… well… just flow again.

There were so many people in the streets, I had some trouble maneuvering my easel through crowds at times. I bumped into several party goers in tall shoes and this in turn toppled some cans of paint and caused a spill like I had never seen before… right in the front doors of the MGM Grand on the eve of the Mayweather fight. The thousands of feet walking through the bright yellow 50 foot line of paint just made things progressively worse and that happened VERY quickly. Within a minute I knew I could do nothing to remedy the disaster. There were yellow footprints stretching across the sidewalk and immaculate lobby of this world class Casino. I was speechless.

At this moment an employee started to help me. He did not know much English  but he did give me the hint and the chance to get away before the Casino managers found the catastrophe.  I thank him for saving my painted butt. I did get away, but not without feeling terrible and amused greatly at the situation. Later I came across some street musicians who witnessed the scene when the managers found the yellow paint on the dark stone floor. It was told to me that they were NOT amused and VERY perplexed by why on Earth somebody would cause such a mess. I at least left my mark in Vegas… and they did get it cleaned before the fight by the way. I will never forget the Hispanic Maintenance worker laughing at the debacle and granting me the chance to get away and not be 86’d from Downtown Vegas. That would be bad I am told.

Chapter two of the adventure landed me not to far from Death Valley. An old friend was having his birthday party in the desert, and I knew I had to go even before I finished the phone call to Ron. My friend Josh was driving to LA and this party was “on the way”, so to speak. Did not look far on the map, but in reality, it was a mountain trip made of cliffs, dirt roads and giant potholes. Very scary, but I was loving it all.

Josh brought me as far as he could. The car rental could go no further. He felt bad, but I insisted. There was nothing around, and josh was not really believing there was 1000 people out here having a great time, but I know Ron… he was having a party, and it did exist out here in the middle of the desert.

Josh left, and I was alone. Not sure if I could get the last few miles without rattlesnakes and scorpions jumping on my spinning easel for a cruise.

About an hour went by of me standing in freezing and dusty winds with the sun making my lips feel terrible before I heard the sounds of a car stereo thumping down the road. It was Ron, and he found me in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Then he took me to an awesome time with people from around the country just enjoying the sites, sounds and tastes of Southern California. I painted for a bit and looked at the stars from atop a mountain called Rattlesnake Mountain.

After two days of meeting new people and hearing new stories, we headed back to Vegas. Loaded up the art, the stage, the supplies, and left not a single sign we were there besides maybe some tracks in the sand. We made it back to Vegas with a trailer with a flat tire and more solar powered lights that  have ever seen loaded in it. A successful adventure if you ask me.

I couldn’t resist the chance to pop this photo.


I went straight back to the streets of Las Vegas and had a blast.

My good friend Lisa took me around the sites and shared her adventures of being a ma sous at the Belagio and being a mama. We rode a roller coaster through the buildings of New York New York, drank pints in under 6 seconds. Saw art, did not gamble, roamed the streets and had an awesome Chinese dinner.

I was for sure getting my flow back. Being stuck in a little town that insists on artists being burdens has taken a tole on my inspirations. This trip was needed.

The paintings all sold. I did a total of three. One was the spirits I felt in the mountains of Cali. One was the desert sunset of the mountains by Las Vegas. the last was of a cello. I found a beautiful girl playing the streets with her violin. I had to paint with her, and a cello seemed to fit the music. I think I freaked her out at first, but once she saw the painting coming along, she was cool and was not worried about the police running us off. I made a new friend.

Now that this fleeting trip was over, I had to head back to the airport to return to Springfield. I have flown before, but this time I fell in love with the entire experience. I love to travel, and to globe trot around the world on a jet painting? Well, lets just say I found my calling again. Just one problem… I missed my plane out of Vegas. twice in one adventure… I have got to get to the airport just 10 seconds earlier. No matter, i stuck around on stand by and drew caricatures and I finally gambled… and I am not a fan. I did get to meet Snoop Lion. Had a very cool conversation about art, women, and travel. I am glad I missed my flight.

Caught the last one, and ended up in St Louis for a spell. Talked to the St Louis Symphony about painting with them later this year, and just explored St Louis some. Made it back to Springfield just before dusk and walked off the train to be face to face with my next wall to paint…. Check back on that.

Good trip huh?

Here are a couple of the paintings I created on my little escape from the mid west…

I thought to paint the desert sky WITHOUT the skyline of Las Vegas that surrounded me. Sold and is now in Dubai.


My short trip to camp in The Mojave desert called for a painting from within….