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Adventure and Art in the Airstream Basecamp


In search of inspiration, retired landscape artist Stephen Perry follows the backroads in his Basecamp.

As a landscape architect, Stephen Perry made his living creating beautiful scenery from natural items. He could transform a backyard into an oasis or carve out a little bit of heaven with thoughtful placement of natural elements in just the right way. Stephen is retired now, but he’s still creating beauty from nature for others to enjoy. With the help of his Basecamp, Wallie, he’s traveling the countryside and using his time to draw inspiration for his art. He crafts original, photo-polymer etchings, relief prints and copper plate etchings after sights and places he and his wife discover on their back road travels.

Stephen Perry in studio Stephen Perry Basecamp

Stephen’s appreciation of aesthetic things is also precisely what led him and his wife to select the Basecamp as their backroads companion.

“We had looked at all kinds of RVs, from sprinter vans and truck campers and everything in between,” Stephen said. “When I saw the Basecamp, the design of it is what probably really got me interested. To me, it was unique. It has a real clean design, and that attracts attention. We loved the panoramic front windows that bring nature inside. Being a designer, it’s really important to me to have something that has a good design.”

Stephen and Nancy, his wife of 51 years, have always enjoyed traveling and being in nature, so when it came time to do more of it in retirement, Stephen knew he wanted a travel trailer so they could camp in comfort and enjoy their surroundings. After 14,000 miles, it’s more than just the visual appeal that Stephen loves about his Basecamp.

Basecamp rock formationbasecamp in front of house“I don’t have to worry about maneuvering it in traffic or parking lots; it’s small enough, but it’s still rugged, and we can get out and enjoy nature with it,” Stephen said. “I like the idea that it’s small because it forces you to be outside when you’re camping rather than sitting inside watching TV. That’s the reason we do it – to be outside.”

From their 102-year-old, centrally located riverside home in Wichita, Kansas, the two can go every direction without it becoming a major trip. They love autumn in Door County, Wisconsin and the South Shore of Lake Superior, where they rediscovered a favorite spot they camped in their first year of marriage.  This summer, they planned to take a two-month bucket, list-trip to Alaska but had to postpone because of the pandemic. Even with all their back road travels, Stephen particularly enjoys the Tallgrass Prairie part of the country in his home state.

Aside from beautiful design, there aren’t a lot of similarities between the sleek, modern feel of the Basecamp and his century-old traditional home, but Stephen prefers it that way.

“That’s what makes it fun because you’re going out in something different from what you live in,” he said. “If it were the same, it wouldn’t be so much of a get-away.”

Stephen takes photographs wherever he goes, but his art comes from the impressions left of the places they visit. From an ink drawing, he uses his unique process to create a plate for inking and printing on his studio etching press. Then he individually watercolors each image. Many of his creations are highlighted on his website, Backroads Press.

Stephen Perry woodcutStephen Perry art“My prints are very traditional regionalist images of rural landscapes, iconic structures and scenes from the backroads of America,” Stephen said. “I’m not trying to make a social statement with my art, but rather depicting comfortable, nostalgic and recognizable scenes in my own style.”

He sees these comfortable, nostalgic scenes up close and personal from his Basecamp, Wallie, a name given, not after Airstream founder Wally Byam, as some would assume, but rather from childhood daydreams of adventures.

“My mental wanderings would be in the persona of a guy named Wallie,” Stephen said. “Now, I have no idea where that name came from, but Wallie was an adventurous and outgoing lad, two qualities that I seriously lacked in my youth. You could say that Wallie was my fun alter-ego.”

From fun alter-ego to traveling companion, Wallie is no longer only part of Stephen’s imagination – he’s a vehicle to create masterpieces.

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