After The Flood Farm dried out after land was flooded as high as the red markings on the house
Planted Rows Freshly planted garden with lettuce and flowers, just after a morning rain.
Cottonwoods Fall Seeds from cottonwood trees float in the air and fall like snowflakes. Two seeds are actually embedded in the painting.
Complacent Two teens sit on park bench ignoring each other lost in their own thought.
Jazz Flutist Musician plays jazz on the street in Kansas City during First Fridays .
On the Beach 2 Sunbathers
Beach Surf Spring break at Cocoa Beach.
Beach Tanning Laying out at the beach getting tanned.
Alley First Fridays in the Crossroads of Kansas City, MO people pass by the alley
English Landing Park Park along the Missouri River in Parkville, MO
Beach Umbrella The shade umbrella is inserted to make a daily land claim for the family.
Sand Bar Award winning painting of floating in Missouri rivers. The traditional sand barf break.
On the Beach 2 Sunbathers during Spring Break
Sisters Sisters stroll along beach.
Suscint Zinc Potted plant of succulents .
Ben's Bank Grand opening of bank in Overland Park Arboretum, KS
Buoyancy Mother wears inner tube for safety.
Bell Garden Flower garden in the Arboretum of Overland Park, KS.
Rescue Me Teens stuck on island give chase to an Ocean liner.
Fairfields Flower garden in Overland Park Arboretum.
Cheyenne Wetlands Wildlife conservation in the middle of Kansas is the largest marsh in the interior of the United States. This wetland is home to the most important migration point in the western hemisphere.
Bustle City Abstract
Brush Creek Trash Abstract of trash washed up on shore in city creek.
Electricity Station The back of the electrical transformation area in Brush Creek at Troost.
Eden's Garden Adam's first view of Eden.
EOJOCS Government offices in Johnson County Kansas.
Offsides Trap High school soccer game.
Highlights on the River Two women rowing canoe on the Jack's Fork River, MO.
Paseo and Cleaver Bridge on Brush Creek River.
Picnic at the Nelson Public picnic on the lawn of the Nelson Atkins Art Gallery.
Weston Riverbed A flood in 1881 shifted the Missouri river into an old channel some 2 miles away from Weston and left a large fertile green river bed at the end of the town where over 265 steamboats per year docked at the Port of Weston to transport tobacco
Three Little Pigs Pigs eating their breakfast
Wolf Creek Trail Walking path in Overland Park Arboretum.
Blue Vase Yellow flowers in vase still life.
Jazz Trumpeter Lonnie McFadden keeps jazz alive in downtown Kansas City at the Phoenix.
Konza Konza Prairie Nature Trail is a 2.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Manhattan, Kansas. The trail in part is a long climb to the top with a spectacular view to paint. Unfortunately the wind was 45mph and blew the french easel over so I climbed down to get out of the wind. Halfway down I stopped to look back up at the stairway and this was the scene of my journey down the mountain hill.
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Franks Place Corner in Parkvile, MO, view from above Franks Italian Restaurant overlooking balcony. The four corners of the painting were painted separately, so the balcony extends beyond the street .
Aerial View Cloud cover as seen from an airplane.
Arboretum Still Life Overland Park Arboretum set up this beautiful still life just for me to paint.
Dryer House Sunset illuminates trees and performs light show.
Crossing Paths Rockport, MO supplies electricity by windmills but carries it over old lines. The crossing of old and new technology.
Trail less Taken Path in the Prairie Tallgrass National Park. Cottonwood Falls, KS.
Volleyball Net Vacant volleyball court waits for the next game.
Vintage Finds Corner store in Parkville, MO. People pass shops but don't buy. Recession of 2008.
Brewing Storm A picnic of romance and fun is about to turn into a disaster.
Right of Way Girls celebrate beating a train though the intersection in Olathe, KS.
Aphrodite Women takes photo of bee on a flower in the Arboretum of Overland Park, KS.
Poppies Flower garden in Ozarks, M.
Crossing 87th Street Winter in Lenexa, KS. The road was so icy people crossed the intersection on ice skates.
10181 House Private home in Cedar Creek, Olathe, KS.
Aphrodite Women taking pictures of flower garden.
Bloch Fountains Fountain in front of Union Station In Kansas City, MO
Burning Bush Plumb bush at Overland Park Arboretum
Dear Eaten Trees Cedar trees were food for the dear during winter in the Overland Park, KS Arboretum
Hanna Granddaughter swimming
Cedar Creek Billboard for neighborhood at sunrise.
Magnetic Abstract of two opposing forces.
A Necessary God Man reaching out for God.
Guard House Entrance to gated community.
Purple Flowers Flower Garden in Overland park Arboretum.
Meyer Circle Round A Bout in Kansas City, Ward Parkway and Meyer.
Pappa Kenos Pizzeria on corner on Overland Park downtown.
Rose Garden Fountain One of the many fountains of Kansas City at Lose Park.
Sally's Flowers Sally's favorite garden flowers.
Snow cones Stand painted at sunrise.
Wlalking Home From School Canadian geese leaving school house at sunrise.
Midwest Cattle Cattle feeding on hill of old barn.
Thrasher Animal -like depiction of a farm thresher.
Jump Teenagers jump in creative ways from bridge to see how close they can come to the canoes in
Strike Three 1978 Carrera Porsche parked in front of Bar and grille in Baltimore, MD.
Reflections Daughter hangs onto her mom walking down the sidewalk of the Plaza Art Fair.
On the Beach Sunbathers
Weston Shopping Mother and daughters shopping in Weston, MO
Hot Dog Stand Father and daughter operate hot dog stand in Historic Weston, MO
Jazz Brothers Two brothers 12 and 14 entertain on the sidewalk as their sister looks on.
9 Wicket Championship National championship in Parkville, MO 2018. Painted in Plein Air contest and won 2nd place.
Dangerous Curve Dangerous curve was painted after traveling through the Rockport, MO hills. Rockport is a town that get all its energy from wind power turbines.
Blake's House Blake rents his house as an Air B&B in Linconville, St.Augustine. It is next to the love tree, 8 minute walk from the center of downtown.
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Mom Getting Ready
I'll Always Love You
Mid Summers Night Dream
Look At Me
My Daughter's Room
Memory of Make Lake
All of Me
Talk To Me
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Kaw Point Award wining painting in 5th Missouri Valley Impressionist Society. Kaw Point was where Lewis and Clark camped for three days. Kansas City became the largest city on the Santa Fe Trail. in the area of the buildings on the extreme left goods were unloaded and transported 4 miles to Westport beyond the buildings on the right.
Kansas Kansas is a state of approximately 82,277 sq. mi. Most of it looks the same and isn’t much different from 1848. Still to this day you can get lost in the middle of “Kansas” on county roads. The only way to tell a direction is to notice which side of the horizon the sun rises or sets. Nearly half the Santa Fe Trail trip was through Kansas, making Kansas the most in trail mileage.
Diamond Springs George Sibley, surveyor, 1825, " It may be appropriately called ‘The Diamond of the Plains,’ and so I had it marked on an Elm tree which grows near and overlaps it.” What a wonderful refreshing site even today. Spring water protected by large shade trees, lush fields of grass with small rounded hills protecting the East. Water rushes over rocks filtering the shady stream into a clear sparkling rush that bubbles to a soothing sound that makes the creek inviting.
Oasis on the Trail By 1865 the traffic on the Santa Fe Trail was beginning to dwindle, Samuel A. Kingman, after passing by recorded: “We passed Diamond Springs. The remains of three buildings of stone two stories high tell their story of violence. A good monument for the builder. A small room used as dram shop is all that’s left fit for use save a large stone corral surrounding 5 or 6 acres with small supply of hay.”
Flint Hills Island The trail passed through areas of the Flint Hills of Kansas. Zebulon Pike first coined the name the Flint Hills in 1806 when he entered into his journal, “passed very ruff flint hills”. The underlying bedrock of the hills is a flinty limestone. Rain run-off created “Flint Hills Island” a refreshing puddle for passing livestock. Fresh water is the necessity of life and the trails crossed many streams and creeks needed to survive the trip.
Pawnee Rock Santa Fe Trail landmark where Indians would climb and scout the countryside. It is the mid point on the Santa Fe Trail from Kansas City to Santa Fe.
Fort Larned The fort was completed in 1865 along side of the Pawnee River, it had no perimeter walls and was open to visitors, it looked like a small town rather than a fortified outpost. It served as an agency of the Indian Bureau in its attempts to provide peaceful solutions to the cultural conflict between the native Americans and the whites. Between 150 and 450 men lived at the fort with groups of 25 men patrolling areas within 70 miles of the fort. The fort was closed in 1878. It is now operated by the
Flint Hills Passing through the Flint Hills of Kansas Hwy 35. The hills form flat horizontal lines across the horizon.
Quivira Kansas wealth is derived by winter wheat which accounts for 15% of the total amount produced in the U.S.
Who Are You Oxen had been traversing the Hills since the Santa Fe Trail opened in 1821, but 1854 marks the first major influx of domestic cattle into the state and into the region. Seth Hays, the Council Grove entrepreneur, had established a hay ranch near the confluence of Diamond Creek and the Cottonwood River in that year. As early as 1856 cattle were being pastured on what is now the Chase-Butler county border, grazing transient cattle during the warm-weather pasture season.
Bent's Old Fort William and Charles Bent built the fort to trade with Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Plains Indians. It was used by Indians, traders, and European travelers as a place to gather and trade goods. A mixing of cultures took place here on the trail.
Mountain Storm The Mountain Cut-off route goes south at Trinidad on Highway 25, the road William Bent created through the mountains toward Taos. Crossing Raton Pass was the hardest part of the mountain Branch journey. Violent thunderstorms washed out whole sections of the road. It is not hard to imagine what early travelers must have experienced in “Mountain Storm”. The wagon had to serve as shelter from the storm, livestock had to be unhitched otherwise they would have run off with the wagons.
Head For the Hills Travelers of the trail would become delusional after three days without water. Strange bushes dot the landscape just out of Trinidad and began to appear as bugs, that when seen by passer byes would “Head For The Hills”, up the side of the mountain to hide in the cover of pine trees. Only to emerge after the car had passed to take their normal grazing spots.
Mud House House along the road after Eagle Nest, New Mexico Hwy 64 had above-ground structures, called clan or surface houses. They appeared 1050-1300 A.D by Anasazi families. These homes with flat roofs gradually gave way to clustered settlements built mainly of stone masonry with two or more stories, much like modern-day apartment complexes. T
Red Trash Can People in Eagle Nest can't find the trash can Hwy 64
Pronghorn Deer The southern Cimarron route is very dry and desert like. It becomes very clear neither a person nor an animal could survive this trip without water. This was the part of the trail Becknell and his men nearly died from lack of water during his first trip to Santa Fe. The horizon appears to be moving like static then stopped and starting over again. Off in the distance brown objects can be seen moving across the landscape. The objects ran very fast and in herds. of Pronghorn Deer.
Gas Pumps “The Rarin To Go Frontier Classical Gas Museum” sits in the small town of Embudo on the “low road to Taos,” NM 68, between Santa Fe and Taos. The two-acre property is a veritable junkyard covered with gas pumps, old cars, auto parts, old railroad and farm equipment. The exhibit of automotive memorabilia used in the early 50’s was of a time when automobiles made the adventure of vacations along the trail easily affordable with gasoline sold by cents rather than dollars per gallon.
Cimarron 2012 Stop over in Cimarron combined mixture of cultures of of the Old West
The Gang's All Here Cimarron, NM, the Village Heart Land of the West. Painting inspired by Kanza Art in Mullinvill, KS. It's history is preserved and celebrated through the efforts of the Village of Cimarron Council and Cimarron Historical Society. Established in 1857 its history begins with the Santa Fe Trail. The name Cimarron in Spanish meant “ wild” and “unbroken”. You can still see ruts of the Santa Fe Trail and visit the historic land of the Anasazil, Jicarilla Apache Ute Indians and even Kit Carson.
Santa Fe Messa Leaving Los Alamos going down Mountain to Santa Fe Hwy 285. Pajarito Plateau with is spectacular view can be viewed on the way to Santa Fe. The city of Santa Fe is behind the mesa just to the left. The orange pink rock formations are composed of ignimbrite laid down by a volcanic action 1.6 million years ago. I doubt travelers of the trail had this view of the plateau.
Water Street Santa Fe, NM has become one of the largest art districts in the U.S. Water St. is in the area of where the merchants stopped to trade in 1850. Santa Fe, has a modest appearance caused by the lack of high super structures seen in most cities. It is comprised of adobe buildings no taller than 4 stories. Most of the goods were unloaded on San Francisco St. in the Plaza. “Water Street” is a block away and has many shops catering to tourists. Artists, writers and retirees are attracted to the city. Santa Fe, population of 69,204, has become the 3rd largest city for art sales in the country. Water Street in the historic district is typical of the architecture preserved by the Historic Preservation Division.
Cactus Small plants in Cimmaron, New Mexico grow from dry dusty earth the same today as in the days of the Santa Fe Trail. Nopales are abundant in Cimarron and often used in today's New Mexican cuisine to make appetizers, soups, and salads through entrées, vegetable dishes, and breads to desserts, beverages, candy, jelly, or drinks.
Las Vegas, NM Not all goods were unloaded and traded in Santa Fe. In 1835 Las Vegas, NM became the major port of entry for supply trains entering the then Mexican territory from Missouri. Townspeople and traders would gather in the town’s Plaza to celebrate when the caravans arrived. Since then the town and surrounding area has been host to over 25 full length movies and several TV productions. Sam Elliot, Kurt Russell, Penelope Cruz and Peter Fonda are some of the stars of Las Vegas movie sets.
New Mexico Messa “New Mexico Messa” shows a rare storm in the New Mexico landscape. The land gets about 12 to 18 inches of rain per year with the rainy season in July and August. The view of the area remains the same as it was 400 years ago. Very dry and little signs of animal life.
Aztec Mill The Aztec Mill was built by Lucien B. Maxwell in 1864. The mill’s initial purpose was to provide wheat and corn flour for local residents, soldiers at Fort Union, and to the Indian Agency in Cimarron. Capable of grinding 15,000 pounds of wheat per day, the building also served as a supply point for dispensing meat, clothing, blankets, and rations to the Ute and Jicarilla Apaches who were nearby on 1200 acres of land.
Round the Bend Driving around Santa Fe up the Pajarito Plateau in the Jemez Mountains to Los Alamos there is an entrance to the Santa Fe National Forest. Burnt trees and new growth caused by the Las Conchas Wildfire could be seen, while driving “Round the Bend” the sunlight cast long shadows across the road through the darkened trees inviting interest in what views lie ahead.
Santa Fe “Santa Fe is situated in a valley ten miles long and two to five miles wide, surrounded by immense mountains covered with pine and cedar trees and affords the most beautiful scene the eye can conceive or mind imagine.” Indiana letter-writer in 1841 upon his arrival in Santa Fe.
Wranglers The Cimarron Cutoff clips the western corner of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The route was 100 miles shorter than the Mountain Cutoff. The Cimarron route was flatter making it more favorable for wagon traffic, yet it was dryer and had less access to water. In the Eastern part of New Mexico near the Oklahoma border occasionally living creatures are seen, two horseman and a dog rounding up a stray cow. The “Wranglers” can be the first life seen on this part of the trip with the exception of the Pronghorns.
Water Well The smallest portion of the Santa Fe Trail was in Oklahoma. Of the two major trail branches, only the Cimarron Route crossed into the state through the western portion of the Oklahoma panhandle, in modern Cimarron County. The Cimarron Route within Oklahoma was only 46 miles long from the northern border with Colorado southwest to the border with New Mexico. Today the land is golden in color against a blue clear sky. A “Windmill” was spotted traveling through the Oklahoma Panhandle.
End of the Line It has been documented that in 1865, 4,472 wagons crossed the trail, each wagon carried 6,000 pounds and drawn by six yoke of oxen or mules. One wagon train, composed of twenty-six teams, carried an average of $450,000 of merchandise in 1843. It was big business along America’s original land highway until the Railroad arrived in Santa Fe in 1880. That marked the end of the grand old highway. Life has changed dramatically in 300 years.
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Santa Fe Trail Impressions
Santa Fe Trail Map
Traveling the Santa Fe Trail
In 2012 I took a trip on the Santa Fe Trail. I started in Overland Park, KS where ruts from the trail can still be seen to the end of the trail at the Church in the downtown square in Santa Fe, NM. I took the Northern Mountain Branch Trail out and the Southern Cimmaron Cutoff back. The settlers had a much flatter route to the south, but the mountains were much more scenic. I took reference photos as the trip was limited in time so I could not stop and paint. I reconstructed the images and made impressionistic paintings relying on my memory of the color and vast space of the trip when I got home in my studio. The color in New Mexico is very soft and pastel. At one point in the trip I had to get out of the car just to touch the hazy view out my window to see if it wasn't a painting. No oil pigment can match the color I extended my hand into, it was unlike anything I ever saw in nature. But it was also a most desolate traveling of a hundred miles and not seeing anything but the dry land.
Painting the Trail
I took photographs for reference during the trip through Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. My trip was on highways near the original trail. When I returned I began painting the routes I traveled now 142 years after the trail was closed. I relied on my photos and memory to make the paintings. I also took liberty to impose my own thoughts about the scenes to record my impressions. The paintings are done in a way to enhance and preserve the emotions of the trip. The paintings are more commentary about what life is like now. I am not finished making paintings. This is just two years of work so far.
David Cooper, of Olathe, Kansas, has been painting the life and scenes around him on for 30 years. His paintings vary reflecting a variety of interests. He has been participating in Kansas City Area plein air events and juried shows for the last twelve years, Hidden Glen Art Festival, Stems, Brush Creek Art Walk, Parkville and other group activities. His art is a unique visual experience recording his environment and our way of life on canvas.
Painting in open air demands quick thinking and fast painting to capture the scene before the light changes. Color abounds in his paintings setting the dramatic recording of 20 minutes of lighting. He captures the moment of light masterfully combining and mixing colors to record a relatively short passage of time. His colorful work is created with small brush strokes overlaying layers of wet paint to create texture and depth, giving a relief effect. Using complementary colors he creates vibration and energy in his work. His humor surfaces at times as he weaves subtle sarcasm into the scene he is painting.
Cooper’s paintings tend to vary in style based on the subject matter and material they are painted on. He views the world around him in a cheerful and colorful way and records a story of our landscape and social activities that are taken for granted and passed by unnoticed. Some of his work has been likened to Edward Hopper, Claude Monet, Maurice Prendergrast, and Vincent Van Gogh.
His artwork, originals and prints are listed internationally on line and can be purchased by visiting www.saatchiart.com. In the search box type in David Cooper and in the scroll down box next to it change to Artist. The director of Saatchi Gallery in London, England, Rebecca Wilson, has recognized his work several times by including his art in special themed collections. Cooper's art has been showcased many times and featured in the websites headers.
"Somewhere between reality and expression, contemporary and realism lives my work. I strive to record momentary impulses of the world around me. I never know what my paintings will look like when I start. They begin to take on characteristics that were not intended at the outset as they develop. I am a messy painter and sometimes careless making mistakes, but mistakes are the best things about painting. Color and shape become more important than perspective. Therefore I have several styles depending on the path my impulses take me. I experiment with different materials and techniques. I use the strokes of the brush to help convey a feeling of the energy within the scene I am painting. The work becomes pure emotion. I participate in several plein air events per year and enjoy the challenge of selecting subject matter and competing in juried shows. When I was a child I aspired to paint the most beautiful painting in the world. Now I aspire to expressing my moods and emotions in painting with the naivety of a child. "
BFA Kansas City Art Institute.
Mid America Art Alliance, KC MO
Rice Gallery, Leawood KS
Kansas City Art Institute
University of Missouri at Kansas City
Bruce R Watkins Gallery, KC MO
Overland Park Art Center
Rivers Bend Gallery, Parkville MO
Stems Plein Air Event Johnson County Botanical Gardens
KC Fountains Plein Air Event and Auction
Parkville in Art
Scenes of Olathe Art Walk
Brush Creek Art Walk
Hidden Glenn Art Festival
First Fridays, Crossroads, Kansas City, MO
Starbucks, Olathe KS, individual show
Albrecht-Kemper Museum, St. Joseph, MO
Cathy Kline Art Gallery, Parkville, MO
Northland Eposure Artists' Gallery, Weston, MO
Symphony in the Flint Hills, Cottonwood Falls, MO
Buttonwood Art Space, Kansas City, MO
Saatchiart.com international on line gallery, London, England
University Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO
Contact David by sending an email to: