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White Christmas on Camano

It was a magical Christmas Day on Camano. After Redeemer’s Christmas Eve service we drove up to the Studio. Snow was falling and the roads were very slippery. Jenny and the boys had some drama on the hills near the Country Club with cars sliding all around them. They got pushed up a hill by a few strapping young men who were also trying to get to “Grandma’s house.”

Christmas Day we woke to the still of three inches of snow.


After opening gifts, we walked with Dad and Mom through the woods back to their house. To take the first of our planned “daily hikes”.


Let me share with you what I saw…


I loved how the snow makes everything look, including Dad’s “studio” sign.


Dad’s old studio is always such a great scene, but especially vintage in the snow.



I enjoyed walking around the Dad and Mom’s place taking pictures.


Everything is so fresh and clean and sparkly in the snow.

Especially Jackie!


It’s hard to really picture how tall these Black Walnut trees really are. They tower over one’s head, cathedral like. I can remember when they were much smaller and we climbed on them when we were kids. My Grandpa on my mom’s side, “Doc” Dodgson, loved black walnuts. He asked his son in law, Ken Day, to ask Ken’s dad to bring back some black walnuts that were available where he lived in Ohio. Mom started them, and they grew and she put them far, far away from the house. Not quite far enough one thinks now, but so lovely in the snow.


Mom accompanied the kids and I to Sunnyshore Beach. Because it is across from our childhood home where I and my siblings played, we call it “our beach”.


It’s hard to describe how incredibly beautiful, subtle and muted and still as they were.

We took plenty of pictures down the hill, and on the bridge. It was that kind of day. Just slow and traipse and lots of time, and lost in the wonder of the beauty.

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The tide was high in the slough, and the reflections in the water were stunning.

Here was the view from the Beach looking south toward Tillicum Beach.


Jenny met us for a family photo after we returned, and dad cooked us a delicious brunch: pancakes, eggs, thuringia, and a warm fire to unthaw our toes.

That’s the news from the Dorsey Art Compound on Camano. On this magical Christmas, the Jason and Jenny Dorsey family wishes all of our family and friends and warm and merry Christmas, and a happy new year. We hope that you put a visit to Sunnyshore Studio, maybe even an extended stay, on your “to do list” for 2018!

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Our Top Ten List of Thanks

It’s been almost a year since Sunnyshore Studio’s Grand Opening on December 2nd, 2016. Here’s our “Top Ten” list of thanks as we look back over this past year.

10. We are thankful for the five art shows we have been able to host over the past year, our sponsors who have made those shows possible, and the thousands who have stopped by to view them. 

Sunnyshore Opening Poster w. sponsors 1



9. We are thankful for the opportunity to do creative work beyond just art. We’ve been able to publish three book and make one documentary! 


8. We are thankful that the Studio is becoming a place where we can encourage, mentor and train other artists. 


7. We are thankful for the Colony of Artists on Camano Island who support, encourage, and help each other in so many ways. 


6. We are thankful for the many friends who have stopped by to visit with us. We love sharing our Studio and Camano Island with you. 


5. We are thankful for this beautiful place that we call “home”, Camano Island.



4. We are thankful that this decades old dream of building an art studio to showcase our family’s art legacy has come true. 




3. We are thankful to our friends, collectors and patrons who have supported our family of artists since 1969.

2. We are thankful for our family and the opportunity  to work together as a family to do art and to share beauty with the world.


1.  Finally, we are thankful to God our Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer whose beauty, love and grace inspires all we do.

Happy Thanksgiving From Sunnyshore




Sunnyshore Studio Publishing Launches

Sunnyshore Studio is pleased to announce the formal launch of its publishing arm, Sunnyshore Studio Publishing. Here is the story of  its birth and a sketch of its future.

cropped-cropped-sunnyshore-brand-20161.pngStory of its birth

In the spring of 2016, Jason Dorsey began to conduct a series of interviews with Camano Island old-timers and people who loved the Beaches of Camano. These interviews were published on the Sunnyshore Studio blog. He realized that these interviews opened a window on the rich history of Camano and began to think about publishing a book with these stories, and each beach illustrated by members of his family.

Jason purchased a Mac computer and the Adobe cloud APP (with program like Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Premier Pro) with the hopes of learning the Adobe sweet of programs so he could publish the book himself. Meanwhile, he continued to conduct over thirty interviews. Spring quickly turned to summer and summer to fall, and he hadn’t begun to learn InDesign. The plan was for the book to be published in time for the Grand Opening of Sunnyshore Studio, December 2nd.

Something had to give.

On October 4th, Jason reached out to a friend and member of his previous congregation in Indianapolis, Tom Peck, a retired Graphic Designer. Tom indicated that he’d be happy to help with the project. Jason quickly reached out to his wife, Jenny’s cousin, Sharilyn Stachler who is an editor and she said she’d be thrilled to help with the project. Jason didn’t have money to offer either Tom or Sharilyn, but they said that they’d help anyway.

Sharilyn worked her editing magic and Tom worked his graphic magic and the result was a beautiful book, The Beaches of Camano. 600 copies were ordered from Gorham Printing in Centralia, WA. The book has sold out. A second printing was ordered today.

Beaches of Camano Island Cover Lg

In the second book project, a biographical sketch of his dad, Jack Dorsey, and a celebration of over 50 years of his artwork, Jason took a crack at doing the graphic work himself. Tom was gracious enough to send the Beaches of Camano In Design template to work off, he helped with the design of the cover, and when it was finished provided a second set of eyes to tighten things up. But the bulk of the graphic design work fell on Jason. The project brought Jason to his knees in writhing agony as he tried to learn a new program. Somehow he muscled through.

Again Sharilyn provided her editing gifts, and this time she received a stipend for her work. The book hardcover, limited edition, Jack Dorsey: Sketch of an Artist was also printed at Gotham printing. Because Jason was ahead of schedule, the book was finished in time for the second weekend of the 2017 Mother’s Day Studio Tour, three weeks before the original due date of Father’s Day. It sells for a hefty $40, but that is less than a $1 per painting, with over fifty of Jack’s paintings showcased in it.

Jack Dorsey Book Cover - March

The next step of Sunnyshore Studio’s publishing venture was to contract with an author who is not a part of the family to publish her book. While the author, and the book subject, must remain clouded in mystery for a little while longer, this was a significant step forward in entering the world of Publishing.

A Sketch of the Future

The aim of the publishing arm of Sunnyshore Studio is to share beauty with the world one book at a time. Rather than receiving submissions of books from authors, we will be choosing book projects based our our criteria and values.

One of the first orders of business is to build our infrastructure. This includes taking our first steps into the world of E-Books as well as obtaining a book distributor. But most important is establishing the bookkeeping process and systems and hiring a bookkeeper.

While many of the book projects that are being discussed are under wraps and can’t be shared at this time, one can.

IRFD Cover, Jason Dorsey, 300 dpi and 3 inches smallest side per CAA instructions

It is our intention to publish the complete I Remember series of children’s picture books written by Jason and illustrated by Jason and his father, Jack. The first of these, I Remember Fishing with Dad was published by Just Dust Publishing which recently closed their doors.

Each book explores a theme of life by telling a story illustrated by delightful watercolor paintings. Together the books will weave the life of a boy growing up on an Island in the Pacific Northwest.

The second of the series, I Remember Running through the Woods, is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2018.

If God gives strength, this little artist studio tucked in the firs and cedars on the south end of Camano Island will be a hub of creativity, beauty and literature for years to come!








Beaches of Camano: Onamac and Henning Beach


Camano’s beaches bring families together. None more so than then Henning Beach, just north of Onamac Point. Henning Beach has been bringing the Henning family together since 1926. Sue Simonson, the eldest in the third generation, shared with me her story.

Sue’s grandparents, Peter and Nannie Henning, and their four children, Cliff, Marguerite, Geneva (Sue’s mother), and Peter Jr. would often camp at Rocky Point. From there, Peter would take his 18 foot boat and fish to the south of Rocky Point. One day, he saw a parcel of land that caught his eye. When this parcel came up in a tax auction in 1926, he bought the quarter mile strip of beach which included a spit and the 40 acres above it for $2,000.


At that time, the only way from the bluff to the beach was by a switchback trail, that was christened the “Indian Trail”. The Henning family would hike down to the water to picnic and play on the beach. Peter worked as a contractor in Canada, Alaska and Washington. (The Henning Bridge, that he built over the Pilchuck river, was named after him.) Because of the severe grade to this property, he knew that he would need to purchase 50 feet, from the neighbor who owned Onamac in order to make a road with 10% grade from the County road to the waterfront; thankfully, he was able to do that.


Peter built the road to the beach and completed the house on the beach in 1929.

Now, next to the original home there sits three others: one for each of Peter and Nannie’s children. In 1950, the second house was built for Marguerite and her two boys, as she was widowed. The family shared the original house, until it became too full, then the three remaining children drew straws to see who would be given first option to purchase the original house, from the family or to build. Geneva drew the short straw and she and her husband Erling chose to purchase the original house from the family, and her the two brothers, Peter and Cliff built their own family homes.

Sue’s aunts and uncles have now all passed away, but these homes have remained in the family, passed down through the generations. The houses are owned by the 10 cousins of the 3rd generation who have shared over 6 decades of treasured beach memories. “The 15 cousins in the 4th generation, which include my children, Lisa Anderson and Todd Simonson, actually own the property, and “lease” the land back to us.”  Now a 5th generation is rising up, 16 and growing.


Henning Beach is a family beach. It has been a wonderful place for the family and relatives to get together in the summer: playing in the mud flats, swimming, crabbing, fishing, and, most of all, just enjoying being together as a family. I asked Sue what happens when they get into a family fight. She said, “That doesn’t happen. Sure there are disagreements, but we work it out.” The family holds annual meetings to discuss maintenance, tax payment planning and future use, all run by Robert’s Rules of Order. Years ago, the 3rd generation penned a family mission statement. This is read at the beginning of each annual meeting and it reaffirms the family’s purpose and goals.

But even though it is a “family beach” they don’t keep it to themselves.  Thousands of people have been welcomed to gather for class parties, class and family reunions, bridal and baby showers, birthdays, staff meetings, retreats, photo sessions, graduations, weddings and memorial services.

The “Private Beach” signs are there to let people know that the beach and tidelands are private property, not to keep people from walking on the beach, but to ask them to respect it. Neighbors from Onamac Beach, to the south, and Eagle Crest, to the north, (a community with a tram that transports them to the beach) commonly walk by enjoying the beauty that surrounds.


Did Peter and Nannie realize that this investment would create a legacy of bringing a family together almost 100 years later? Probably not, but it is a gift that the Henning family doesn’t take for granted as they maintain the highest level of stewardship and continue to share this amazing gift with others. It brings them together and reminds them of how blessed the gift of family can be.


Beaches of Camano: Elger Bay and places where we heal


“If there is any place to heal or get comfort it is in a beautiful place like that.”

The beaches of Camano have been places of comfort and healing to many. Jerri Gunderson now lives in Brisbane, a sweet little community near San Francisco but from 1997 to 2011 she lived in the Saratoga Terrace community overlooking Elger Bay.

Her husband, Steve, who was an engineer at Kimberly Clark in Everett, had always wanted to build his own home, but he had never had the time to do that. However in 1997 they found the perfect place for their home and moved into a trailer on their lot to begin Steve’s lifelong dream of building his own home.  Three years after their home was completed, Steve passed away from a serious heart attack. Jerri sprinkled his ashes in the bay because “he loved Elger Bay.” She stayed there for 9 years after that.


Jerri healed by walking on the beach that Steve loved. At that time, there were only a few homes sprinkled on the beach. The Saratoga Community owned a grassy lot with a covered area with a picnic shelter, and a boat ramp. “I walked the beach a lot in the mornings. There was  seldom anyone there to disturb the solitude and peace except the eagles and seagulls. Over time, the beachfront became more developed – with large homes filling in all the empty spaces. It no longer seemed the welcoming place it had been beforeand so she discontinued her walks, enjoying the bay from the community beach lot or from her view on the hill. Jeri told me that she read somewhere that only Washington and Rhode Island are only states where the beaches are not open to the public, where the beaches and in some cases the tidelands can be privately owned.


Perhaps even more instrumental in comforting and healing Jeri was her stunning view. “People always say if you have a view like that after a while you just don’t notice it that much. But I never had that experience. The view was never the same. The shape and color of the clouds always changed. The sky had a myriad of subtle colors. The Olympics were quite elusive, sometimes visible sometimes not. Whidbey Island could be sharp and crisp as though it had moved closer or it could hide in a fog bank. The color and movement of the water changed the view. The sunsets were glorious. There was usually activity such as boats sailing by on the straits beyond the bay, people playing on the beach, or wildlife. She remembers once sitting on her deck and watching a parade of old sailing boats that were going to Seattle. From February – April, Jeri watched Grey whales came into the bay because it’s a shallow and has a sandy bottom ( Gray whales eat crill that live in sandy bottoms. ) “You could see them sweep through, go up on their sides, use their fins to make a hole on the bottom, and the crill would come up with the sand from the hole and float in the water, and the whale would make a quick turn to feed,” she told me.


“If there is any place to heal or get comfort it is in a beautiful place like that; Elger Bay was a lovely place to remember our happy times together. Living in our home did not make me sad. It was comforting to be there because both of us had loved it so much.  . “God used the bay to bless me .”


Beaches of Camano: Livingston Bay and Sundin Beach

The best place to catch the sunrise on Camano is on Livingston Bay. Any time of the day the Bay is beautiful. But perhaps most mesmerizing is at night around the end of September when a Harvest moon all huge and orange comes up on Livingston Bay and makes it like a fairy land.

Well over a hundred years ago part of Livingston Bay belonged to a logging camp. There was a slip road for rolling logs down to the beach from where they would be shipped to Everett and Seattle. At one time Livingston Bay had an Oyster farm, but it failed.


What is distinctive today about this large bay is the panoramic view. To the south is Iverson beach. West are the farms and Terry’s Corner, once owned by R.C. Terry who “everyone knew”.  North along Livingston Bay is Sundin Beach, then Juniper, then Stanwood and the Mainland, framed by the Cascades, and Mt. Baker. Sometimes you can even see Mt. Ranier to the south.

Livingston is a low bank waterfront. It is very shallow with mud flats and not much sand. You can dig for butter clams but they’re not very good.  In the summer the water is always warm because it comes in slowly over the mud, but you have to wait for high tide to swim. Be careful if you venture out into the mud flats. The tide comes in fast and there are deep channels. A few people have drowned by being caught in the mud flats with the rising tide.

In the fall migrating Canadian Geese and Snow geese, Mallards and Teal shelter at Utsalady.  And the Harvest Moon rises making the Bay a fairyland.


Beaches of Camano: Manaco Beach

Camano’s waters teem with marine life. It is easy to forget that we humans share our beaches and their waters  with eagles and seals, cockles and clams, oysters and otters. It is not so easy to forget that on Manaco Beach, between Cama and Indian Beach, were Louis Bloom serves as the local “Beach Master.”


In the 1940’s to early 1960’s it was the Manaco Resort, one of the many resorts on Camano. From the 1960’s to today it is a private community beach.  Louis parents, Mel and Mary Bloom, bought the resort in 1957, and since then many Blooms have lived off and on at Manaco, including Louie.


So Louie has known this beach for 59 years, and for forty years served as its Beach Master which from what I can gather means part historian, part scientist, and part steward.

Manaco Beach is a gently slopping beach to the -1.0 tide level when it becomes sandy, typical of 80% of beaches between the State Park boat launch and Onamac. It’s always had an abundance of mussels, butter, littleneck, cockles, horse clams, crab, shrimp, bottom fish and other sea life. Now it has oysters, manila clams. seals, cormorants, river otters, and eagles.

Over the past forty years Louie has enjoyed, cared for, and cultivated Manaco Beach. You can see his work at I will use Louie’s photos to show you just how teeming with life our beaches and their waters are. Louie’s work is a model of both caring for and cultivating that life on our beaches.

Here are photographs of eagles at Manaco.

Here are photographs of or from the raft.

Here are photographs of  Louie’s work with oysters.

Louie’s work on Manaco Beach reminds us that we must never forget that we share these same beaches with all God’s creatures and so must strive to be good stewards of them.


Beaches of Camano: Cavalero (II)

Cavalero is a great beach to go to for peace and quiet. It’s a County beach open to the public and it has a boat launch. But it feels like a private beach.

My friend Teri Cooper Olin’s family spent a lot of time at Cavalero in her youth.


They called it “our beach” and launched their boat there because it was protected from the weather and was one of the easiest to get your boat in and out of the water. They planned ahead because the boat launch at Cavalero is fairly short; you sometime had to wait for the tide to come in to get your boat out.  Teri remembers spending many-an-evening waiting for the tide to come in so they could launch.

Cavalero collects all different sizes of driftwood. Teri and her sister Cheryl would walk from one end of the beach to the other on the driftwood without touching the ground. There was a very large piece of driftwood that they built into a fort and added onto every time they went like a house for the kids, with separate rooms. Usually the fort they set up went untouched because the beach was so sparsely used.

The beach is sandy and rocky then sandy again: sandy at first, then rocky (with barnacles) which made getting to the water tricky once the tide started going out, but once you got past the barnacles it is pure sand, “the kind your feet would sink into when you walked on it,” Teri remembers. Once the tide was out it seemed like they could walk for miles without the water getting any deeper, and the water was really warm: “That was my favorite time to be at this beach.” Since Cavalero is across from Stanwood, her family watched the fireworks on the 4th of July, back when Stanwood used to have its own fireworks show. “We sat in our boat and watched all the fireworks, which were extra spectacular because of how they would reflect off the water” she reflected.

But it is the stillness, the peacefulness of the place, that Teri remembers most. “The beach was very peaceful. The water was almost always still. It’s just a really special place. Growing up on Camano and being surrounded by water you don’t realize what you have. Now that I live away from the Island life, I realize how much the water comforted me. I would go to the beach when I was sad or upset and sort of let those emotions go out with the waves. There was just something so soothing about sitting by yourself on a piece of driftwood with your toes in the sand and a blanket around your shoulders, listening to the waves.”

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