The Way the West was Won

Imagine with me, if you will, what it took to take a 2,000-mile journey on foot, to an untamed wilderness, taking few possessions, hoping for good weather conditions, decent health and no encounters with other people hostile to you. Imagine your wife and young children walking, day after day, by your side, sometimes hungry, often thirsty and tired, frequently scared, no roadside rest stops, restaurants or hotels. Really, no roads, just a well-worn trail and trail guide to keep you headed towards your destination.

Opportunity, for the bold and the brave, the opportunity for a better life, religious freedom, wealth, and land was the motivation for this journey of a lifetime. It wasn’t long before trading and hunting routes blazed by fur traders and Native Americans were well worn, deep and wide, as thousands of wagons, animals and people passed by.

As many as a half million people traveled this way and along the way, numerous individuals died. There is a body buried every 80 yards along the trail, with over 20,000 men, women and children dying during their journey. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to bury a loved one, and then continue on, one foot after another.

Women were an important part of settling the West; their lives were difficult, fraught with hard work, and sorrow. As I painted this, I thought of my ancestors and those of my wife, making their slow, deliberate way across those wide-open plains, crossing rivers and even mountains, burying their children and their spouses, on their way to the Great Salt Lake Valley.

The Way the West was Won Gale F. Trapp, 2013

The Way the West was Won
Gale F. Trapp, 2013

In this painting, I tried to convey the reluctance of a mother leaving behind her beloved child, facing the necessity of moving on, the cow seeming to sense the somber mood, while the wagon train continues the journey west. The mountain peak represents the obstacles still ahead, the dark sky the gloom of the moment. Not all is sad though, as little children in the wagon represent the hope for the future.

Wishes for the New Year

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and productive 2014.

Productivity can be exhausting...

Productivity can be exhausting…

These past few months have been filled with physical challenges for me, including not one, but two knee surgeries (the second to fix an unusual problem with the first), anemia brought on by said knee surgery, and finally, a Christmas celebration in the hospital as I faced gall bladder surgery. Many thanks to the kind doctors and nurses (especially my patient wife) as they helped me through these issues. I’m humbled by the kindness of strangers and blessed by the love of my family and reminded daily to be grateful for these challenges, because I am alive and able to face them.

Today, I am feeling considerably better and definitely looking forward to the new year. Excited for the day I can brave the stairs and enter the art studio again, paintbrush in hand, to imagine life before ready surgery, sterile hospitals and modern medicine. While I will always love history, and wish that I had been around to traverse the mountains with the fur trappers, for now at least, I am glad to live in modern times.With that in mind, I once again, wish you a happy, healthy and productive 2014.

Trappers Wild West Show… part 2

Santa's Last Stop Gale F. Trapp, 2012

Santa’s Last Stop
Gale F. Trapp, 2012

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Then head on over to the Death Valley ’49ers Invitational Western Art Show. It really is genuine old fashioned family fun with loads of historical activities above and beyond the canvas.

Never participated in historical reenactments? Here is your chance to join an encampment or rendezvous and experience a bit of history for yourself.

Not to mention, this juried art show features excellent Western Art, by both new and well known artists.

64th Annual Death Valley ’49ers Invitational Western Art Show
http://www.deathvalley49ers.org
Thursday through Sunday, November 7-10, 2013.

This will be my 3rd year attending this show, and I have to admit, it’s one of my favorites. It was here I received my first artist recognition, earning a 3rd place and best new artist award my first year, and receiving a 1st place award my second year. Is it any wonder I’m excited to participate?

The art show itself offers fun events including:

Competition Voting
Vote on your favorite piece. Support your favorite artist!

Awards
1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons are awarded to each of the five categories as well as the Plein-air competition based on voting done by fellow Death Valley ‘49ers.

Artist Quick Draw and Auction
Watch the creative process at work as artists complete a masterpiece in 45 minutes.

Original art makes an excellent gift, so come on over and join the fun.