A couple weeks ago I did this painting of a rock. Actually it was a couple of rocks and they were sitting right by the bicycle path and they caught my eye somehow. I feel like it is important to try to be able to turn any scene into a successful painting, so this was some practice for me in that regard. I suppose it is also practice to “see with the mind’s eye.” I find that some of my best paintings are only loosely based on the scene in front of me.
This rock was actually placed there by humans (as opposed to some natural process). It is part of the Whilamut Natural Area in Alton Baker Park. In 2002 some people had the idea of putting rocks around the area and engraving Kalapuya words in them (along with English translations). This is no longer Kalapuya land, and their language is no longer heard along the river banks of the Willamette (apparently there are some surviving Kalapuya to this day but it is unclear how many people speak the language.) Their words are engraved on stones though. It seemed like an admirable effort, to put these stones around with Kalapuya words, but at the same time a little sad. I’m not sure how many people actually look at them. I suppose it is good to have a reminder that some other people once lived here and called it home.
This rock that I painted has Gudu-Kut engraved on it, which means “frog” in Kalapuya.
Apparently Whilamut means “where the river ripples and runs fast,” and there is a stone with that word engraved on it down stream from where I sat, on the back where a riffle forms in the river.