After the war, Harper spent a semester in New York at the Art Students League before returning to the Art Academy in Cincinnati. Upon his graduation in 1947 he was awarded the Stephen H. Wilder Scholarship for post-graduate travel. He and Edie married that year and used the funds for a six month Honeymoon road trip that took them from Cincinnati to Oregon, down the West Coast and then on to Florida via the southern route. While sketching during this journey, Harper refined and expanded the simplified approach that he had discovered in his wartime experience. "I couldn't get the Rocky Mountain on a piece of paper without simplifying it" he remarked. His reduction of large forms to flat shapes and the rapid drawing technique that omitted all but necessary details effectively captured the gestures and vigor of his subjects. This approach and his subject matter of natural scenes became what he called Minimal Realism; using simple forms for maximum impact.