See 81 original paintings by Jack Dorsey in the “No. 81” exhibit through May at Sunnyshore Studio on Camano Island.

See 81 original paintings by Jack Dorsey in the “No. 81” exhibit through May at Sunnyshore Studio on Camano Island.

Camano Island studio celebrates a patriarch of the arts

“No. 81” features 81 of Jack Dorsey’s paintings on his 81st birthday. You can see 28 of them at Sunnyshore Studio.

CAMANO ISLAND — Jack Dorsey, a renowned Northwest watercolorist, will turn 81 on March 12.

In honor of Dorsey’s 81st birthday, Sunnyshore Studio is hosting a solo show — titled “No. 81” — featuring 81 of his original paintings.

Twenty-eight of these paintings will be showcased in the gallery on SE Camano Drive through May. But you can see all 81 of them on the gallery’s website.

“No. 81” will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 12-14. There won’t be an artist’s reception because of COVID-19. Masks are required. Or you can see the Jack Dorsey show through May by appointment. Call 317-209-6768 to make an appointment.

“Dad’s a patriarch of our family of artists,” said Jason Dorsey, owner of Sunnyshore Studio and Jack’s older son. “We love him. We want to celebrate his long life and legacy of art in the Pacific Northwest.”

Who are the Dorsey family of artists? In addition to Jack Dorsey, there’s his wife, Ann Cory, their sons Jason Dorsey and Jed Dorsey, and their daughter, April Nelson. Jason is also a watercolorist, Ann and Jed work in acrylics, April has no preferred medium.

In additon to watercolor, Jack Dorsey paints in oil, acrylic and egg tempura. The Camano Island artist turns 81 on March 12.

In additon to watercolor, Jack Dorsey paints in oil, acrylic and egg tempura. The Camano Island artist turns 81 on March 12.

Since 2018, Sunnyshore has hosted the Jack Dorsey Invitational: Vintage Watercolorists of Washington to celebrate some of Washington’s best watercolorists. Each March, five Northwest Watercolor Society artists are honored with a showcase, a coffee table book and a video documentary.

But because of the pandemic, this year the Dorseyes decided to postpone the Jack Dorsey Invitational, and instead make March a birthday celebration and solo exhibition for his father.

“We had a solo show for him for his 77th birthday, and right after that he had a little heart attack,” Jason Dorsey said. “He had to get a stint put in. That was a wake up call for all of us. We’re super thankful that he survived all that.”

Dorsey’s 81 paintings — most of them watercolor, but some of them acrylic — will be available for purchase through an online auction that runs March 12-31.

“The beautiful thing about art is that you can continue to paint well into old age,” Jason Dorsey said. “It’s a wonderful show.”

In addition, Sunnyshore Studio is hosting a Zoom birthday party at 7 p.m. March 12 for friends, family and fans to call in an wish Jack a happy birthday and thank him for his contribution to their lives. Email, or call or text 317-209-6768 to request the Zoom link.

“We just want to express how thankful we are to those who, throughout the years, have supported Dad,” Jason Dorsey said, “and his calling as an artist.”

“Mount Rainer” by Jack Dorsey is featured in the painter’s solo show at Sunnyshore Studio on Camano Island, opening March 12.

“Mount Rainer” by Jack Dorsey is featured in the painter’s solo show at Sunnyshore Studio on Camano Island, opening March 12.

Where were all of those paintings before the show? The eldest Dorsey had all 81 of them at his Camano home. Fifty-three of them were stored in a flat file, 28 of them were framed and either hanging on his walls or stacked in his living room.

“One of the sayings for artists is we’re our very best collectors,” Jack Dorsey said, with a laugh. “Every artist paints more than they sell.”

He picked up a love of watercolor at Lake Washington High School. Though he’s mostly self-taught, Dorsey earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Seattle Pacific College — he sold paintings to pay his way through college. After graduation, he taught art at Highline High School and Olympic Junior High School until 1969.

In addition to watercolor, Dorsey paints in oil, acrylic and egg tempura. He also has tried his hand at sculpture.

“No matter the medium, my paintings all have that Dorsey style,” Jack Dorsey said. “I’ve always described my styles — there are three of them — as impressionistic realism, symbolic or calligraphy.”

But it was hard for a full-time artist to support a family of five. So, in 1979, Dorsey hired on at the Boeing Co. For 15 years he hardly painted at all. He retired from Boeing in 1995. He was worried that his reputation as a watercolorist would suffer from his absence, but Dorsey was able to pick right back up with the Camano Island Studio Tour in 1999.

Most notably, he’s shown his work at the Burien Art Festival, Bellevue Art Festival, Frye Art Museum in Seattle, the Franell Gallery in Tokyo, Japan, the La Conner Historical Museum and Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds.

Dorsey is a former president of the Northwest Watercolor Society and a past member of the Puget Sound Group of Painters. He a life member of the Northwest Watercolor Society and an associate member of Oil Painters of North America.

“My interest has always been art,” Jack Dorsey said, “and always will be until I die.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046;; @sarabruestle.

If you go

Celebrate Camano’s own Jack Dorsey with a solo birthday show titled “No. 81” at Sunnyshore Studio, 2803 SE Camano Drive, Camano Island. In honor of Dorsey’s 81st birthday, 81 original paintings of his will be auctioned off March 12-31 on the website. Twenty-eight of these paintings will be showcased in the gallery 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 12-14. If you miss the opening, see the exhibit by appointment through May. Call 317-209-6768 or go to for more information.

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