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Remembering Fanny, the Matriarch of our family of artists

Today we celebrate the birthday of the matriarch of our Family of artists, Fanny Y. Cory.

Fanny was born October 18, 1887, in Waukegan, IL. She endured many hardships growing up, including the death of her mother and beloved sister, Agnes, from tuberculosis. By her late teens and early twenties she had become one of the leading illustrators in New York City, a profession dominated by men.

She married a Montana cowboy, Fred Cooney. Fred and Fanny raised their three children on their 400 acre ranch next to Lake Sewell (Canyon Ferry Lake), close to Helena, Montana.

To put her three children through college, Fanny took up cartooning. Her daily strip “Sunnysayings”, published by King Features Syndicate in newspapers throughout America for 35 years, was beloved by young and old alike. Besides Sunnysayings, she also illustrated, and sometimes wrote, “Little Miss Muffet” which was King Syndicate’s answer to “Little Orphan Annie.”

You can learn more about her life as an illustrator and cartoonist here. http://montanawomenshistory.org/drawing-on-motherhood-the-cartoons-and-illustrations-of-fanny-cory-cooney/

Fanny had an incredible imagination. She was also a wonderful gardener. Those two things came together in the imaginary world of fairies. During her years in Montana she began a series of watercolor paintings of fairies which after her death was published as the “Fairy Alphabet.” She considered her Fairy Alphabet her greatest artistic achievement. Fanny painted twenty six watercolors of fairies and wrote rhymes for each letter of the alphabet. These watercolors are now stored for preservation in the archive of the Montana museum of history. They are compiled today in her popular “Fairy Alphabet.” Because of copyright, we can’t show the original illustrations. But this “Dancing Daffodil” painting was not used in the series. It shows the soft watercolor and brilliant imagination Fanny had.

In 1952, Fanny moved from her 400 acre ranch near Helena, Montana, to a small cottage on Camano Island perched on a cliff overlooking Saratoga passage and the Olympic mountains to the west. She called the beach below “Montana Beach.” Her cottage was just across the road and down a long driveway from “Sea Crest Farm”, the farm on Camano where my mother, Ann, grew up.

Fanny welcomed her beloved grandchildren into her home, including my mom, Ann. She formed the “Grunt and Groan Art Club” where each member was encouraged to paint a painting every week, and they often painted together at her cottage.

Fanny continued to paint fairies into her 80’s. Even though her eyesight was failing and hand was a little shaky, they are charming.


Fanny also painted a little watercolor every day, a scene from her window, looking out over the water.

And every day into her 80’s Fanny did pushups and sit ups and read a chapter from the Bible. At night she kissed the picture of her beloved sister Agnes that sat on her dresser.

Fanny passed away on July 28th, 1972, at her daughter Sayre’s home in Stanwood, WA. But her creative gifts, her imagination, and her zest for life live on in her family of artists and creatives.


This October, Sunnyshore Studio is celebrating the life and legacy of Fanny Y. Cory by releasing the second season of “Fairy Sightings”. This short videos were shot at the home of Betty Dorotik, just a few hundred feet south of the cottage where Fanny lived. Here’s one of those videos from Season Two:

If you’d like to learn more about Fanny’s story you can check out this documentary I made in 2017.


My son, Julian and I, spent a couple days of vacation in Montana. Visiting the sights and shooting footage. His middle name is “Cory” named after his famous great-great-grandmother Fanny Y. Cory.

Eric Locke’s big musical contribution to the We Are Family documentary

By Jason Dorsey

The We are Family documentary that tells the story of an inner city basketball team that won the Indiana basketball championship against all odds took a big step forward musically thanks to the generous contribution of my friend, Eric Locke. Here’s that story.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that our feature documentary, which is about 2.5 hours long having been cut down from over five hours, still has a lot of musical holes. Through the funds raised by the Kickstarter campaign, I had been able to pay a lot of gifted musicians for their original compositions.

But I was out of money and we we had musical holes to fill. So I reached out to some of my musician friends, including Eric. Months before, I had connected Eric to David to see if any of his music might be a fit. But I hadn’t heard back from David so I figured I would ask again. Eric sent David a link to his music on YouTube and David wrote back.

“…The thing is, his stuff is GREAT.  He’s got a positive vibe running through, and generally the right kind of high energy levels we would need for game footage, but also in some cases under the talking heads, to give those some energy.”

Here’s an example of one of Eric’s songs.

Eric graciously gave David and I permission to use his music for free, as a gift! This generous gift will allow us to fill musical holes, and it is another great example of how this has been a community project. I could not do it without friends like Eric who have stood with me.

Here’s a short interview I did with Eric.

Jason: Eric when did you first hear about the We are Family project?

Eric: Hmm…I probably first heard you talking about the project here and
there while getting to know you in the past couple of years before
getting a fuller appreciation of it when the Go Fund Me campaign went
live.

Jason: Months ago you agreed to let us use your music for the film (thanks so much!). But then you didn’t hear back from us. What were you thinking in those “silent” months?

Eric: I enjoyed and appreciated the interest but didn’t dwell on it much after doing my part as advice from wiser people (and personal experience) has taught me that it’s best to approach opportunities often but lightly.

Jason: Tell me about yourself as a musician.

Eric: I got my first guitar at 14, was in a few bands here and there while
growing up. In the late 90’s when digital recording for the masses was opening up the Mrs, (Stephanie) let us get some recording gear and I was able to start learning how to record to try and get these melodies and ideas out of my head. While I work primarily in fits and starts I’m grateful to realize at least some of the ideas and concepts that get stuck in my mind. I feel fortunate to live in a time where technology can allow an individual to
do that.

Jason: What were early musical influences in your life? Inspirations?

Eric: The earliest were probably movie soundtracks. My dad would have music from soundtracks and artists of the day playing through the house while he was cooking or some such. My sister and I would go skating at the
local skating rink almost every weekend so we were exposed heavily to
pop music of the day there. Rock, soul, etc. When I got into electric guitar it was an unexpected trip into heavier music due to a friend I had. One moment I’m trying to learn a Michael Jackson song and the next my friend is tossing it across the room and “forcing” me to learn Heavy Metal. I don’t think I’d be into composing music now if it wasn’t for that but I was a little chapped at the time as I had a pretty low appreciation of Metal.

Jason: Did you have training as a musician or are you self-trained?

Eric: Self taught though the thought of taking time out for training is very
inviting nowadays.

Jason: Have you been a part of bands?

Eric: Yes I have and I’ve met some truly wonderful people as well as having
some good formative experiences. I don’t know that I’m a good “band”
member in that I don’t do well improvising and I really lean towards a
singular vision but everybody I’ve ever worked with has been good sports
in letting me participate and maybe one day I’ll hit a tipping point and
“get it”.

Jason: Talk to me about your compositions. What is your style? What are you trying to do with your sound?

Eric: I really enjoy a wall of ethereal sound. The Mrs, (who has a beautiful
voice) has been kind enough to work with me and I’m really content with
what has come from the collaboration so far. I’m enjoying her soft voice
over heavier ethereal music. We worked up a version of The Mighty Power of God, music by Phil Peterson, (Grammy Nominated) who is an old Chief Musician of Grace Church Seattle and I couldn’t be happier with the sound and style achieved there and other compositions since then performed by The Undone Orchestra. We’ve hit a stride that I’m really content with and I look forward to exploring more of that style in the future.

Jason: What was it like after the months of silence to hear back from
David Lichty that your music would be a perfect fit for the documentary?

Eric: It was a true highlight for myself. I felt like I got a small taste of
the glory that these young men, their families, coaches and community
had all worked for.

Jason: Any last thoughts?

Eric: I’m looking forward to seeing the entirety of the We Are Family story,
how my music folds in and a big “Thank You!” to all for letting me
participate. All the Best!

Acrylic University welcomes its first Access to Art Students!

Acrylic University’s welcomes three students to its first Access to Art program, November 1, 2019. Grants of $350 for each student were raised through Jed’s recent Radiant Landscape show, and from the generous gifts of a few supporters of this program.

Access to Art is a two year program that provides quality art instruction, art supplies and a nurturing art community to youth ages 13-22 who apply, and are accepted, into the program. Each youth who applies is required to have an advocate who will be there to support and encourage them.

You can learn more about the program here.

Director of Acrylic University, Jed Dorsey, is passionate about this program. Learn the story behind Jed’s passion here.

https://www.acrylicuniversity.com/blog/art-access-program-helping-young-people-thrive-creatively

We are so excited to have Cajun-Rain, Kristen, and Marley on the Access to Art journey.

Here’s an interview with one of our students from this summer sharing what this program would mean to her.

If you are interested in giving a grant, or partial grant, to provide access to an artistically gifted, low-income youth, please contact Jason Dorsey: j.dorsey23@gmail.com.

The “Friendship Sign”

I call our new sign the “friendship sign.” Here’s why.

From left to right: Jed Dorsey, Jacob Swearingen, Jason Dorsey, Jenny Wallace Dorsey

In 2015, I sketched out a basic design idea for a roadside sign for Sunnyshore Studio. I asked my dear friend from Stanwood High School, Jacob Swearingen, to see if he would work his magic to create it. He said Yes.

This is my original idea.

Jacob’s concept has become the Sunnyshore Studio brand.

I tell the story of that first sign here.

I finished that post with these words. “I drove home with the sign, but with so much more than a sign. For the sign is a symbol of friendship over the years, of love and loyalty and past memories and the hopes of many new memories and many decades more of friendship.”

Jacob’s sign was to large for us to put along the road. It fits perfectly at the entrance of the studio.

So I still needed an outdoor sign that would go along the road. I looked into a few options. A plastic sign just wasn’t cutting it for the kind of substantial sign I wanted, and it wasn’t personal enough. I couldn’t afford a metal sign at the time. Then one day, my friend Wade Starkenberg posted on facebook a metal sign he had made. It was beautiful. I immediately reached out to him to see if he would make one for Sunnyshore Studio.

Wade and I grew up in the same circles. We went to school in Stanwood and church at Camano Chapel. I spent July 2014 at my parent’s home on Camano Island putting the concepts of Identity Mapping into book form and also spent time with old friends, including Wade who I had reconnected with on facebook. I spent the afternoon at his home on Big Lake, met his wife, Jennifer and two sons. His mom, Yvonne, joined us for a delicious Salmon dinner. Decades had passed since we had last seen each other. But it seemed like just a few days. It was great to catch up.

Wade had been supportive of our Sunnyshore Studio project and graciously agreed to be a sponsor of Jed’s 2017 show “There and Back Again. https://sunnyshorestudio.com/tag/there-and-back-again/. So I was hopeful that he might make the sign. He said, “Yes.” When I asked him what it would cost me, he said “Nothing!”

Wade cut a few signs to get it just right. He had to program the design and lettering into a computer that operates the machine that cuts the metal. I liked the look of the steel sign and so Wade cut me an extra. I can take it with me on trips. I love that the Sunnyshore Studio brand is now portable. Different backdrops give it a different feel. Here are some examples.

Jackie and I spent a morning this summer filming the sunrise coming up behind the sign. My son Jacob used that footage to create an animated brand. Currently sonic branding is being made for the animation to Todd Masten, a neighbor I met I met at my coffee shop in Redmond, River Trail.

So you can understand why I was excited on Wednesday of this week to pick up the finished outdoor sign from Wade.

I spent a couple hours on Wednesday creating a base for the sign from driftwood I had collected from Randy and Melanie Serroel’s home at Port Susan Terrace, just north of Sunnyshore.

I needed a curved piece of driftwood to hang the sign on. So I called Melanie and she said “come on down.” Melanie and I walked the beach and spotted a perfect piece of driftwood.

Dad helped me start assembling the sign. I had a Camano Art Association meeting though and had to leave. He said that he would finish the sign up. He spent yesterday assembling the sign. Mom took photographs.

The new outdoor sign is up, just in time for Jed’s “Radiant Landscape” show that opens on Saturday. I love it!

I call it a friendship sign because it was birthed and forged and built in friendship. The friendships stretch all the way back to high school classmates Jacob and Wade, to neighbors Melanie and Randy, to my kids Jackie and Jacob and new friend Todd, to Dad and Mom. It’s not just about past friendships though. I know that the sign will direct many people to our Studio where new friendships will be built.

That’s why I call it our “friendship sign.”

Fairy Sightings: Season Two launches

The highly anticipated Season Two of Fairy Sightings is here. Fairy Sightings honors the life and legacy of Fairy Master, Fanny Y Cory, matriarch of the Dorsey family of artists. Fanny painted and wrote a delightful fairy alphabet that still charms children, their parents and grandparents today.

A painting of a Fairy by Fanny in her 80’s

Fanny taught her granddaughter, Ann Cory Dorsey, to spot fairies in flowers. In this episode, Jason Dorsey, who is on a quest to spot fairies, visits, with his mother Ann, the garden of another Fairy Master, Betty Dorotik. Enjoy their walk through Betty’s garden and learn the lore of the fairies. You may even spot one, or two!

Fairy Sightings – Episode Two: The quest to spot a fairy at the garden of
Fairy Master Betty Dorotik

Season Two

If you missed any of Season One Fairy Sighting episodes you can catch up on them here. Microwave some popcorn, scoop a bowl of ice-cream, settle in for binge watching, and let the magic begin.

Fairy Sightings – Fairy Houses
Fairy Sightings – Introducing Fairy Mystery Boxes
Fairy Sightings – Fanny Y Cory’s Fairy Alphabet
Fairy Sightings – First Fairy Sighting
Fairy Sightings – Fairy Master Ann Cory, My Mom, won’t tell
Fairy Sightings – Fairy Friendly Environment
Fairy Sightings – Jason Discover’s a Fairy Circle
Fairy Sightings – Jason sees fairies dancing at night
Fairy Sightings – Willow’s Discovery
Fairy Sightings – The Treasure in the Fairy Chest
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