Kansas City artist canoes down Missouri River and paints

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City artist Steve Snell spent his summer canoeing the entire Missouri River, painting the beautiful landscapes before him using the river for his watercolors.

Snell has been an artist for nearly 20 years, drawing inspiration from the history and landscape of where he lives. He fell in love with the Missouri River and developed a fascination with its features when he moved to Kansas City seven years ago.

He wants local residents to take an interest in what is in front of them.

“It’s kind of inspired me in my artistic practice ever since,” Snell said. It was just full of unknowns, so it seemed like a great opportunity to have an adventure and make some art.

Snell began prepping and researching the Missouri River in October 2022 and finally set sail June 2. For 88 days, covering 2,341 miles, he paddled his canoe from Three Forks, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri, where he ended his journey. .

He said it was during some of his toughest times on the water that he learned more about himself. Learning to let go has taught him how to deal with life’s challenges as they come.

“I think for an adventure to be authentic, there has to be an element of risk, of failure,” Snell said. “That’s why I kept going – it was still an unknown, but there was also something really personally fulfilling about this simplicity of my daily focus.

When he found himself in deep water on the currents of his journey, it was the people he met along the way who helped keep his head above water. This is the part of his travels he will never forget.

“All I know is that it was definitely, probably one of the [most] meaningful life experiences I’ve ever had,” Snell said. “Just let life unfold, embrace what’s happening before then and keep paddling.”

Snell created over 100 water-based paintings throughout his journey. They will be the subject of a video series called “Adventure Art on the Mighty Mo'” and will premiere in the spring of 2023.

To learn more about Snell’s trip down the Missouri River or see his work, go to his website.

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