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The Gathering of Stanwood High School Class of 1987

The first party held on my Sunnyshore Studio property was in July 2014. I hosted a gathering of classmates from Stanwood High School’s class of 1987, the greatest class who ever walked the halls of SHS.

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My elders at Redeemer Presbyterian in Indy, had given me a month sabbatical to work on my writing project on Christian identity. I spent the month at my parent’s home on Camano. I spent about 6-8 hours a day writing, usually in the early morning to noon, and then again in the evening. But I did have time for some fun. One of the highlights was hosting a gathering of my classmates.

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I began planning this gathering in the spring, contacting old friends via facebook. It would stretch over two days: a BBQ on my Sunnyshore property on Friday, July 19th. Then on Saturday, 20th, dinner at a Amigos restaurant in Stanwood.

I found a lot of joy preparing the Sunnyshore Studio property for the party.

I made a sign, ordered a porta-potty,

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piled wood for the fireside,

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set up tables and a canopy,

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and bought a grill, my first Sunnyshore Studio purchase.

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Mom picked flowers from her place and brought them over to make a bouquet for each table. Heather B. was the first friend to show up and right away she went to work helping mom.

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Other friends arrived.

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It was so fun to see them after all those years, and so rich to be known and to know each other over the decade, and from the bright days of our youth.

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As we sat around the fire and talked I was struck by how much about of the lives of my friends and classmates I hadn’t known. I had only scratched the surface of knowing them during those many years of growing up together, going to class, playing on sport teams, dancing and fighting and laughing and crying together. It was sweet to catch up after all those years, getting to know each other at a deeper level.

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A special treat for me was that one of my best friends from high school, Harry Baird, and his lovely wife Maria parked their travel trailer on the property and spent the night next to my tent. Harry, Maria and I sat around the fire until the early hours of the morning talking, laughing, remembering.

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Dinner at Amigos on Saturday was great too.

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The gathering of my SHS friends was the perfect way to break in my Sunnyshore Studio property. Many more parties and gatherings will follow, but nothing will beat having old friends from olden days there to christen it.

great, Great, GREAT NEWS. “Fishing with Dad” is going to be published

I found out great news this morning. The children’s picture book that I wrote years ago, and teamed up with my dad to illustrate, is going to be published by Just Dust Publishers.

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Years ago as I was dreaming of creating Sunnyshore Studio, I imagined writing series of children’s picture books that would tell the stories and adventures of a boy growing up on an island.

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I wanted these stories to “instruct and delight.”

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The first story would be about his memories of fishing for salmon with his dad, and, in particular their salmon fishing adventures on the day of a Fishing Derby on the Island.

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I was able to persuade my dad to believe in the reality of this book enough to collaborate with me on illustrating it. On one of his and mom’s visits to Indy, he spent a week working with me on the illustrations.

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A friend of mine, Paul Baumgarten, took photos of the illustrations. And another friend, Matt Hale, put the illustrations and my text into a book form.

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As I began to share my project with professionals in the children’s book industry I discovered that the story itself took a lot more work. I attended a children’s book conference in Indy and submitted my draft to people in the industry for review. They urged me to move from just sharing memories of my fishing with dad to make it a story.

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So I worked on the text and eventually sent it to a publisher. I got great feedback on the illustrations, but was told that the story needed to have a more universal appeal. I kept working on the draft, resent it, and was told that I had made great improvements but that they weren’t going to be able to publish it at the time.

The story languished.

Then on October 23rd, 2014 I got a letter from a friend I knew from when Jenny and I attended Cascade Presbyterian in Eugune, OR, 1995-1997.

She wrote,

Hi, Jason,

I don’t know if you remember me but I “knew you when” you were in Eugene, Oregon at Cascade. I purchased one of the beautiful little watercolors that you did as a fund raiser for a pregnancy center at the time and have always cherished your work. Tonight I was trolling the Shopgoodwill.com site and found a large watercolor of yours–A Lone Goose. It is SO beautiful, and I was so happy to purchase it! A friend of mine, Gwen P., had also purchased some of your paintings in the days and she will be delighted to see this one as well. We both value them highly.

Mark, my husband and I have moved to McMInnville, Oregon–a tourist town for wine country, the space museum, and central location for touring Oregon. He’s retired and I am running a small publishing company. We also have a vacation rental house and a 100 year old craftsman that we also use for retreats for people in ministry. We would love to host you and any others you would care to bring. (We’re on AirBnB in McMinnville, but don’t book through there as there will be no  charge for you! I know you are from the NW so if you want to have your extended family come with you we would be happy to oblige….Hope you and the family are well, your position is challenging and fulfilling, and your paintings and sermons are filled with His light!

I wrote her back and shared with her that I had been working on a children’s book and would she be interested in seeing if it would be a good fit with her publishing company. She said she would.

And that brings me to the great, Great, GREAT news that the children’s book that I collaborated with dad to create will, Lord willing, be published by Just Dust Publishers.

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By the way, these pictures are from the original book that Paul Baumgarten and Matt Hale collaborated with me on.

The summer of 2014

In February 2014, the elders at Redeemer Presbyterian Church granted me a month sabbatical to write my book on Identity Mapping. I spent the month on Camano Island. The upstairs bedroom at mom and dad’s house was a perfect place to rest, retreat, reflect and write.  I spent the mornings writing.

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At noon I spent a couple of hours splitting wood. My goal was to fill up dad and mom’s woodshed.

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I also filled up my afternoon enjoying the beauty of Camano. Dad had stumbled upon the mother lode of blackberries. I picked wild blackberries with him, reminding me of the good old days when we picked blackberries together.

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Each afternoon I jogged to Mabana Beach, swam in the brisk waters, and jogged home.

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A highlight of my month on the Island was camping on my Sunnyshore Studio lot. When my brother, Jed, his wife Renae and their daughter Willow arrived on Camano for their vacation, I gladly gave up my upstairs hideaway, and set up a tent on my Sunnyshore property.

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I dug out a fire pit, put an large steel truck rim in the bottom of the pit and arranged bricks in a circle on the outside. Watching the light fade in the eastern sky and staring at the flames in the fire was a perfect way to wind down in the evenings.

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Another highlight of the summer was waking up with the rising of the sun and watching the sunrise over the Cascade Mountains to the east. It was so quiet and peaceful. Still.

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The summer of 2014 was a perfect preview of what it would be like to stay in the studio apartment of Sunnyshore Studio. I can’t wait to share this beautiful place with people I love.

Jim Spane and Spanebuildings.com

In 1988 my parents gifted me with a lot on Camano Island, WA. I dreamed of building an art studio there that would share the beauty of Camano Island with the world. Ten years later, in 2008, I had the lot cleared, graded, and planted with grass. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2010 that I got a clear picture of what I wanted the studio to look like. Here is that story.

That summer our family spent a couple of weeks on Camano Island as part of a 3 month sabbatical I had been granted. One day Jenny and I were driving on west Camano Drive. A house that was for sale caught my eye.

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The “Manaco Beach Home” was a 2 bedroom, 1 ¾ bath home with a sunny kitchen on the first floor and vaulted ceiling on the second floor.  What caught my eye was the modern lines, the feel of a beach home, and the thought that a version of this would make a perfect studio.

It turned out the builder of the home was an old friend from Stanwood high school, Jim Spane. Jim had graduated a couple of years after me. His company, Spanebuildings www.spanebuildings.com, specializes in building high quality pole buildings, barns, and homes.

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I contacted Jim. He came out to my property and I shared the vision of the studio. Jim worked with me to design a Studio/apartment and everything was ready to go.

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But I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger. My hesitation lasted for almost 5 years.

Then in the spring of 2014, I contacted Jim and told him I was “close” to being ready to move forward on my project, that I was spending the month of July on Camano, and I wanted to start moving the project forward. While I was on the Island, I visited Jim at his office. We toured one of his buildings. I was impressed with his work and felt even more excited about my project!.

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At that point the only thing stopping me was my fear. I had the highest confidence in Jim. I had a beautiful building design that I was excited about. I had thought long about the Studio’s mission, and had a plan to carry it out. But I was still too scared to pull the trigger.

Then in January of 2015 my mom was diagnosed with cancer. That was a game changer for me. I realized that I was either going to go for it or not. I pulled the trigger. That is another story.

Then in January of 2015 my mom was diagnosed with cancer. That was a game changer for me. I pulled the trigger. But that is another story.

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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