Recently, Jer and I escaped the city to the wilds of the southern Cascades, following the Rogue River from Grants Pass east, up toward Crater Lake, where the Rogue has its beginnings at the edge of the Crater Lake National Park. We didn’t get that far east (most of Crater Lake is still closed with snow) but we did get beyond Prospect to the Union Creek Resort Lodge, a quaint old resort area with cabins that seem to date from the 1920’s. Our cabin had all mod cons (including heat!), although the shower never got warm enough to actually use. But it was right by the Rogue River and so I spent one day painting by myself, while Jer explored and photographed in the car. The weather was absolutely clear and almost warm, perfect for painting.
The river meanders a bit through the middle Rogue Valley and is very pleasant as it moves upward through farms and pastureland, but at some point, it turns turbulent — and impressive. This was the first view we had of it as a fast-flowing force to be reckoned with:
I did four plein air paintings, 2 at the Rogue Gorge (a wayside park). The park has a paved path along a lava-lined gorge — astonishing. The power of the River equaled or exceeded the power of the lave through which it pushed its way, roaring and bounding and leaping. The third photo above is from that area. At the Rogue Gorge I painted a wide spot in the lava beds where the river apparently changed course in the 1990’s during a big flood and so spat and swirled through old bits of lava-pocked rock. I also painted its narrowing and picking up speed and force just after that wide frothing spot, something like the third photo.
The last photo, above, is at Natural Bridge, few miles downstream from Union Creek, where the raging water disappears into a lave tube and then gets spewed out again. The main exit of the water can be seen in that large green flow at the center top of the photo. I painted that, and then another a bit below it, from the same spot on the path.
I haven’t had a chance to live with the paintings long enough yet to see if I captured anything of the subtle colors encapsulated in the frothing and forceful water. If they stand up to scrutiny, you’ll be sure to see them here soon. There was a lifetime of learning to paint that kind of water, just in the Rogue Gorge and Natural Bridge. Two days was but a tingle on the tongue. –June