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My visit to the Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere, England

Sunnyshore Studio is modeled after the Heaton Cooper Studio is Grasmere, England. Here is the story of the day I visited the Heaton Cooper Studio.

In 2010 I applied for a sabbatical grant from the Lilly Endowment. The question I had to answer in applying for the grant was “what would make your heart sing?” My answer, among other things, was that taking my family on an epic road trip to Great Britain would make my heart sing. I was awarded a sabbatical grant. In June 2010 our family embarked on our epic road trip.

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After landing in London’s Heathrow airport we took the train to Canterbury. I wanted to begin our pilgrimage at the destination of Chaucer’s “Canterbury tale” pilgrims. Canterbury Cathedral was incredible. We also were at the White Cliffs of Dover at the anniversary of the rescue of the English Expeditionary force from France in the early days of WWII.

From Canterbury we traveled to Cambridge and spent time with dear friends from Trinity Divinity School, Julian and Deborah Hardyman. From Cambridge we traveled to York, and visited the splendid cathedral there. We continued north into Scotland, spending time with old friends from Seattle, Matt and Rachel Round, and touring Edinburgh. We traced some of the steps of my wife’s forebear, William Wallace. In Scotland we also celebrated my son Julian’s 13th birthday.

From Glasgow we went south into the Lake District of England. From our base in Windermere, I took a day trip to visit the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere, England, a quaint town famous as the residence of the romantic poet William Wordsworth.

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The bus ride to Grasmere through the rolling, mist covered hills of the Lake District was beautiful.

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I hoped that the Heaton Cooper Studio might be a model for the studio I was designing on Camano Island, WA. I was not disappointed.

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I discovered that the Heaton Cooper Studio displays the art legacy of four generations of Coopers. Their art was breathtaking. Heaton Cooper was a gifted watercolorist. His paintings of the Lake District capture the mood, the stillness, the soft colors of the landscape.

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His children and grandchildren were also very gifted artists, each with a different artistic voice.

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At the Heaton Cooper Studio I got some great ideas about how to how to display the history of a family of artists. They also had done a great job is creating coffee table books to showcase the Lake District, something I hope to do in the future with coffee table books showcasing the beauty of Camano Island.

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I finished the day by buying a book of Wordsworth poems and sitting in a tea shop having tea and scones and reading Wordsworth. It was a day well spent.

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Photos from the Cooper Studio

The mission of Sunnyshore Studio: sharing the beauty of Camano Island with the world

The mission of Sunnyshore Studio is to share the beauty of Camano Island with the world. Where did this idea of sharing come from?

Many years ago as I was developing the concept of Sunnyshore Studio, I was struck by the fact that my family had a rich heritage of sharing.

My great grandmother, F.Y. Cory, used her gift of art to support her sister Agnes, who eventually died of tuberculosis. Later she used her gift in art to send her children to college.

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My grandfather, Grandpa Dorsey, gave 60 acres of property near Leavenworth to my dad and mom as their inheritance.

My grandfather on my mother’s side, Grandpa Dodgson, gave my mom and dad 10 acres on Camano Island with an old house on it; in 1969 they moved to Camano where dad launched his career as an artist.

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My dad and mom shared their artistic talents and art resources, including the full run of my dad’s studio, with me, my sister April, and brother Jed. Dad shared his ability as an art critic to make our artwork better; and mom was our greatest supporter, encouraging us by buying our art.

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In a previous post, I told the story of how my dad and mom gifted Jenny and I, and our kids, with the lot just south of their home. In short: I saw this thread of sharing running through my family heritage.

It also struck me that the story by which I was living my life was a story of sharing. From a young age I had learned from my parents that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believed in him would have eternal life (John 3:16).” This story of my Heavenly Father sending His Son into our broken world to share eternal life with me, of Jesus living the life I should have lived and dying the death I should have died, is the story that defines me. Broken man that I am, I am nevertheless secure as a beloved son of my Heavenly Father.  I have an inheritance that I did not earn nor can never loose.

God’s sharing of His greatest gift with me, His Son, gives me great motivation to follow my Heavenly Father’s example in sharing.

Thus it was from my family heritage of sharing and from the Big Story that defines me as a Christian that I determined that the mission of Sunnyshore Studio would be to share the beauty of Camano Island with the world.

My dream for sharing Sunnyshore Studio is that:

  • Each member of my family would be blessed and supported as they show and sell their artwork.
  • People who come to the Studio would experience the “splinter” of God’s beauty that is Camano Island.
  • People would enjoy and celebrate the beauty of Camano Island through our family’s original art
  • People would be renewed and refreshed through staying at the studio;
  • People would grow as artists through art classes and seminars and art collaborative projects.

Here is a picture of the beach just below Sunnyshore Studio, the beach I grew up playing on, and that I look forward to sharing with others.

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Clearing the Land

In my previous blog, I told how in 1998 my dad and mom gave Jenny and I a lot just south of their home on Camano Island, Wa. I shared that my first project was tearing down an old house on the lot and that I dreamed to replace it with an art studio where I could showcase my family’s art legacy.

But over the next eight years I didn’t do anything. Alder trees shot up,, some to over 40 feet tall. Blackberry vines took over. It was a mess. I took a few steps in clearing it by hand. I used my dad’s chainsaw to cut down some alders. I pulled out some blackberry vines by hand. It was slow, tedious work.

Then in 2008 I decided to have it professionally cleared. I hired Tim McGlinchy of Highland Earth Services.

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Tim used an escavator to rake out and pile the brush and trees. He broke up and hauled out the old foundation. It was fun to watch a heavy equipment artist at work. What would have taken a year to do by hand took McGlinchy and his escavator just a few days.

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In the late fall Tim burnt the piles and graded the soil smooth with a bulldozer. We planted grass. It came up beautifully in the wet fall soil. And we were one step closer to the dream of Sunnyshore Studio.

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The dream of Sunnyshore Studio is born

This is how my dream of Sunnyshore Studio was born. In 1997, I was called to be assistant pastor at Green Lake Presbyterian church. My wife Jenny, and our two sons, Jacob and Julian moved from Salem, OR to Seattle, WA. We couldn’t afford to buy a home in Seattle. But we wanted a piece of property that we could call our own.

In 1998, My mom and dad gifted us with a lot just south of their home on Camano Island. The lot looked out over the Puget Sound and the beach I had grown up playing at. The lot was part of tract of land called Sunnyshore Acres. It had an old run down house on it and a well, which is a valuable commodity on Camano.

I tore down the old house. See a picture of Julian and I in the midst of demolition below. We began to clear the land. You can see how my boys, Jacob, Julian and Judah were my helpers.

Thus began my dream of building a Studio on the lot that would showcase our family’s legacy of art and share the beauty of Camano Island.

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