Month: October 2010


Elysian Studios: The Artful Life: Painting a Recipe: Raspberries

“Breakfast with Raspberries” oil on canvas, mounted on board by Erin Fickert-Rowland

I am starting a new series of fruit and vegetable still lifes, and I love to cook, so I want to share both my painting and a delicious recipe for you to enjoy at home!

Click here for printable recipe

 Berry-Berry Brownie Torte from “Best-Loved Hershey’s”

*note:original recipe calls for 3/4 cup raspberries and 3/4 cup blackberries, but I used all raspberries, I also substituted Lite Cool Whip for the heavy whipping cream!


1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

1 1/4 cups sugar,divided

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry

1. Heat oven to 350 F.  Line 9-inch round baking pan with wax paper, then grease.  Stir together flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips.

2. Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat.  Stir in 1 cup sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Add cocoa, blending well.  Stir in flour mixture.  Spread mixture in prepared pan.

3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky.  Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes.  Invert onto wire rack; remove wax paper.  Turn right side up;cool completely.

4. Beat whipping cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.  Spread over top of brownie.  Top with berries.  Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 8-10 servings

Berry-Berry Brownie Torte

Elysian Studios: Colorado Art Tour: King Tut at the Denver Art Museum-part I

Outside of the Denver Art Museum

Until January 9, 2011, we have “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see the 100 touring artifacts related to the boy king, who lived 3,300 years ago” says Kyle MacMillan in his Denver Post article, “Cross-Examining King-Tut” . “Objects from King Tut’s tomb have not visited the United States since the 1970’s, and it’s not likely they will again for another decade or two.”

“Coffinette of gold, carnelian and colored glass”

It is remarkable that these artifacts have come to Denver, especially to the DAM.  One would expect an exhibit of such magnitude to be in a major History Museum in New York or Chicago, but now we have an opportunity to view these culturally significant artifacts from an aesthetic viewpoint and in an intimate setting.  Understanding Ancient Egyptian imagery is crucial for anyone interested in Art History.  Before going to the exhibit, it is important to do some research to maximize your experience.  First, understand that there are no mummies in this exhibit!  King Tut’s sarcophagus, gold funerary mask and mummy are not part of the collection of artifacts.  “The mummy has never traveled outside of the area where it was found in the Valley of the Kings,” MacMillan quotes David Silverman, a noted Egyptologist.  “Tut’s sarcophagus and the three coffins that surrounded it have never left Cairo.  The gold mask was part of the famed 1970’s Tut show that toured in the United States, but officials have not allowed it to travel since because of fears of potential damage.”  The beautiful piece chosen for most of the Tut marketing (above left) is actually a very small gold and inlayed stone that was part of the canopic chest used to hold Tut’s mummified organs.
So how do you get the most out of your trip?  First, call and make a reservation!  Prices are discounted for DAM members. Tickets really need to be purchased in advance, and you reserve a 30 min. window for entrance.  For example, our tickets were for 1:00pm, but we had until 1:30 to enter the gallery.  Once inside, you may stay as long as you wish.  NO cameras or cellphones are allowed in the exhibit.  If you try to text or take a call inside the gallery, you will be quickly approached by security.  You are allowed a notebook and pencil if you would like to take notes or sketch.  We took our two boys, age 10 and 6, but I would not recommend taking anyone younger than 5 or 6.  We spent at least a week prior to viewing the exhibit to read books and watch documentaries about King Tut.  This was incredibly beneficial to both children and adults!  It was very exciting to see artifacts in person that we had seen in the videos of the excavation.  It is also helpful to understand the basics of Ancient Egyptian culture and religion: Pharaoh’s role, god worship, especially the sun gods Aten and Amun, Tut’s lineage, and the Tomb Discovery in 1922 by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon.  It sounds like a lot, but see the simple list of recommended resources below which covered these topics.  All were available at our local public library.

photo by Andy Cross for the Denver Post

Once at the exhibit, be prepared to spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the galleries.  Hundreds of people are visiting the exhibit everyday, and it will only get more crowded as the it draws to a close.  You may purchase a self-guided audio tour, for $5 each, and we would highly recommend it!  It really isn’t practical to share, especially if you have kids.  Our youngest only listened to about half of the stops, but the rest of us enjoyed the narration by Harrison Ford, and additional insights from Zahi Hawass, a renowned Egyptologist.  After your visit, there are lots of very expensive souvenirs, but we went for several 99 cent scarab and mummy beads (next to the ever-present “bag-o-rocks”) and the $15 National Geographic Official Souvenir Guide to the Exhibit.  All of the artifacts in the book were on display in the exhibit, and it’s a great resource to remember your trip!  I hope you have the opportunity to see the King Tutankhamun Exhibit, and feel free to comment with any questions!

Recommended Resources:

“Tutankhamun” by Demi -This is a wonderful children’s book is filled with information on King Tut’s Life and Egyptian culture.  The illustrations and text are enjoyable for adults too!

Finally, you can’t think “King Tut” without thinking of Steve Martin’s wonderful song from SNL (which the children happily sang all day before, during, and after the exhibit…whatever works, right?!)


Featured Artist: Katharine McGuinness | Elysian Studios

“Tutti Frutti” monotype by Katharine McGuinness

Discovering the work of Katharine McGuinness was a  wonderful moment of kismet for me this year.  When touring Denver’s Santa Fe Art District for their monthly First Friday Artwalk, I entered Spark Gallery and was immediately delighted by the saturated color and energetic shapes of these monotypes on paper, which were hung like mobiles throughout the gallery space.  They twirled and danced as I walked around them, and I was captivated by their stunning compositions and rich texture. Katharine has an amazing eye for color and a mastery of abstraction.  Often abstract works can lie flat and emotionless on their canvas or paper and get monotonous to view.  These shapes seem to interact and move with each other, and the viewer has merely caught a snapshot of their action.  Drawn in for a closer look, you begin to see the layers of color artfully built upon one another and gain an appreciation for the craftsmanship of these pieces.

“Birthday in Chinatown” monotype by Katharine McGuinness

Shortly after I saw Katharine’s work at Spark, I wandered into her booth at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, which is one of the largest, most prestigious annual arts festivals in the country and very difficult to be accepted into.  This time I was able to meet Kate in person!  She is a delightfully energetic woman, who happily shared information about her work and success with me, and I am still inspired by that conversation!  Kate currently has a show at Zip37 Gallery, in Denver’s Navajo Street Art District, through October 31st.  Her work is priced very reasonably ($800-$900, framed), and I highly recommend adding one to your art collection!  I had the opportunity to talk with her about her work at the show’s opening, and laughed frequently at her analogies and wonderful stories.

Elysian:  “I am not familiar with the monotype process, can you explain it to me?”

Katharine McGuinness at Zip37 Gallery

McGuinness: “A monotype is a painting done with lithography inks onto a printing plate.  I determine my composition, mix my inks and roll them onto the plate with a brayer.  I control which inks go next to each other, and then transfer the colors in many layers with a press onto 100% rag paper.  The paper is pure white to start, but there is none left when I am done! Some images may be similar, but each one is made completely by hand.  There is no edition, and each piece is unique.”

Elysian: “What artists are the biggest influences on your work?”

McGuinness: “One of the biggest influences on my work is music.  My process is similar to jazz.  I used to play the guitar, so I relate to the rhythm and movement of music.  As far as artists go, I hate to look too much at others, because I want my work to be it’s own, and artists can’t help but steal ideas from one another.  I do love Rothko and Villard.”

Katharine McGuinness at Zip37 Gallery

Elysian: “I also see a lot of Kandinsky (one of my favorite artists whose imagery was strongly influenced by music)”

McGuinness: “Yes, in fact I named one of my pieces after him!”

Elysian: “How do you know when a piece is finished?”

McGuinness: “It is so important that a piece doesn’t look overworked!  Its like a delicate pizza dough that you skillfully toss in the air and as soon as it’s right you stop!”

“Swimming Up Stream” monotype by Katharine McGuinness

Elysian: “Which piece in the show is your favorite?”

McGuinness: (pointing)  “Swimming Up Stream”

Elysian: “That is my favorite!  I love the black!”

Kate and I had a great time discussing her work, and her show is beautiful!  I look forward to seeing her next show, especially how she chooses to display her pieces.  She always gives thoughtful consideration to the viewer’s ability to interact with her work and see it as clearly as possible.  You can view more of her work on her website at , and be sure to stop by her show at:

Zip37 Gallery

3644 Navajo Street (Highlands)

through October 31st