Corvallis Rocks On… On Rocks

You may have recently thought you’d seen an oddly-shaped turtle or a ladybug bigger than you thought they grew, then looked again to see that it was a smooth, rounded river rock painted with an elaborate design. Or you may have seen some design that you immediately knew was a small painted design, and it simply made you happy.  

If you pick up one of these mini masterpieces and turned it over, you’ll see a message directing you to hide it in some other location for someone else to find. 

Once you’ve started noticing painted rocks, you’ll begin seeing more of them, like Easter eggs, all year long. They’ll be decorated with all sorts of designs – images out of popular culture like Hogwarts or Westeros characters, figures and symbols from mythology, flowers and animals, abstract designs and cultural icons.  

Some are obviously the work of small children or beginners, while others are clearly things that were produced by professional artists, or people who could become professionals if they wanted to. No-one is putting any demands on the artists who paint these rocks, though. 

As it says at the group’s Facebook page, “In my recent travels, I stumbled upon some beatuful [sic] and fun painted rocks hidden in various locations. On the backs, they had messages like ‘Sequim Rocks on Facebook’ and ‘Port Angeles Rocks’. The idea is you find the rocks, snap a picture and post it to the FB Group page, and rehide the rock. You can also participate by decorating your own rocks to hide around town. Its [sic] just for fun and who knows how many smiles these rocks can bring to the community 😊 Happy hunting!!” 

It’s not a complicated scheme and not a politically-charged one, just a little idea to harmlessly add some color to life. 

Most of the rocks are, as the page’s intro text indicates, tucked away in doorways or under bushes, but some are prominently placed out in the open. There’s a “snake” of painted rocks hundreds of feet long, winding around the rim of Chintimini Park. Also, there are locations where numerous rocks are spread out with a sign reading “T1L1,” meaning “Take One, Leave One.” 

There’s another group in Linn County that paints and distributes rocks in Albany, Lebanon and other Linn County towns, and naturally, you’ll see some rocks with Linn County markings in Corvallis. 

There’s an amusing coincidence which was recently shared at the group’s Facebook page: not far from the “other” Corvallis, the one in Montana, there is a different sort of “Corvallis Painted Rocks.  

By John M. Burt