Who Doesn’t Know about Jack?


This Winter, my creativity took a tangent towards trash collection. Here are the results and a brief explanation, in case you are wondering…

Meet Jack (Jacques, Giacomo, Jackie-O, Jackie-jack)


and Pepe ( Peps, Peeps, Pee-pee, Pepperoni, Giuseppe).


We walk almost every morning.  A good daily walk makes for happy dogs, no matter how small. To get around the occasional frustration of geriatric chihuahua walking, I collect stuff off the ground…naturally.


After observing the ground-trash in the immediate neighborhood and surrounding alley-hoods, a certain aesthetic emerged, based partly in my training as a painter/drawer and partly in my principles, idiocyncracies and basic philosophy.


I made a list of limitations to keep the look of the trash consistent. Collected trash must correspond to the following:

  • Must be nonperishable
  • Must be flattened, by a car or other large fast thing
  • Must be found within a certain area in the north university housing district in the public right-of-way
  • Must be collected while walking Jack and Pepe (to maintain consistent rate of collection)

Here is an example of one walks worth of flattened-trash collection:


Several walks worth, enough to frame:


Until most recently, I had no way to present the trash. Thanks to Aaron Brothers buy one get one for a penny deal, I found four shadowbox frames for nearly free…which worked perfectly in principle and aesthetically for the flat-trash.


I managed 4 compositions before resources became scarce due to over-collection. How about that?!


So, it may be cliche, but it is also very unique.

No other collection would exist anywhere but in the North University Housing District.

It must be car flattened, not just any trash.

It comes to us only through dog walking, not any other deliberate action.

It ultimately presents a slice of life in my neighborhood, nicely sealed in a shadowbox, forever frozen in a lightly composed and crushed construction.

I love the effects of reflected and refracted light that the trash creates. In these flat-trash compositions I see the elements and principles of design including; line, shape, light, form and sparkling color combinations. My imagination and story-telling impulses are much inspired by the random collections, quite entertaining.


All thanks to Jack (and Pepe).

And…while I’d like to say this project ended, I can’t say the trash did.

And…not being able to resist flat trash now, I find a bigger, deeper box for the Spring session. Maybe more to come on this, or maybe not.


Happy Collecting!

Pastel Landscapes: Sky Coming Soon!

Hello Color and Natural World Enthusiasts,

I will be teaching a series of landscape classes to develop your perception of Sky, Rocks and Water for drawing and painting purposes in soft pastel (bring your paints if you prefer).

Our first 2 sessions cover Sky and Clouds

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We will find ways to make our skies really interesting by using color and value gradients and color temperature shifts. Next, we will study the anatomy of a cloud, explore different cloud types and learn to find and show the subtle color and value shifts of clouds.

Pastel Landscapes in the Studio: Sky

Sundays, April 2 and 9, 9-12 at the Tucson Pastel Society Building, 2447 N Los Altos

$75 for 2 Sunday Mornings

Sign up online at http://www.artverveacademy.com or let me know you are coming at studiomilstead@gmail.com.


Thank you!


Upcoming Shows/Openings This Week

Tohono Chul,Day for Night” opens this Thursday night from 5:30-8:00. February 16 – April 19.

An amazing group of artists. Beverages and nibbles included, plus free entrance to the Gallery and Gardens with opening.

Sneak Peak: “Sonoran Sucus” 40×40, oil on linen, 2017, (one of two Sonoran Desert inspired oils included in the show).



Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s Ironwood Gallery. Opening this Saturday, 18, 2-5PM. (entrance fee if you are not a member).

Take an afternoon cruise out to the Museum (located on the west side of the Tucson Mountains) for a large selection of fine pastel paintings from Arizona Pastelists.

Sneak Peak of Madera Canyon, 12×12 pastel, (one of three pastels selected).


Desert Harmony Pastel Show runs from February 18-April 17.

Come fill your senses.

Upcoming Classes in Oil Paint and Pastel

Hello Friends,

I am teaching the following classes this Winter/Spring.

I teach through Art Verve Academy (AVA), Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum Art Institute (ASDM) and offer individual and group classes and workshops on demand.

To sign up please go to:



http://www.asdmartclass.com and arts@desertmuseum.org


contact me directly at studiomilstead@gmail.com


Take a look at the following classes and their locations. Sign up for a class today!


Introduction to Plein Air Painting, Plein Air Basics, and Plein Air on Location:

February 21, 28, March 11, 18, March 21, 28

Tuesday Afternoons, 1-4PM

$75 for each 2 session class

to sign up and pay please visit: http://www.artverveacademy.com


Oil Painting: Self Directed Projects

March 17, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 23

Sunday Afternoons 1:30-4:30

$170 for 6 sessions

to sign up and pay please visit: http://www.artverveacademy.com


Pastel Landscapes in the Studio: Sky, Rocks, Water

April 2. 9, 23,30, May 7, 14

Sunday Mornings, 9-12

$75 for each 2 session class

to sign up and pay please visit: http://www.artverveacademy.com



Pastel From the Ground Up

February 15, 22, March 1, 8, 15

Wednesdays 9-12

$150 members/$200 non-members

sign up at: http://www.asdmartclass.com


The Colored Wilderness: Pastel Workshop

February 17, 18, 19

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10-4PM

$150 members/$200 non-members

sign up at: http://www.asdmartclass.com


Thanks for taking a look. I hope you find something that will fit into your schedule. If not, feel free to send me suggestions for future classes and times/dates: studiomilstead@gmail.com or respond to this post.



Winter Session Oil Painting: Glazing: Part 1

Here is a visual demonstration of the steps we covered in class of a multi stepped process used by today’s traditional painters, developed during the Renaissance.

You can produce a drawing  or cartoon of practically anything. I am looking at a mask and practicing drawing from observation.

To start the drawing, I use a piece of vine charcoal which is easily erased. I make a line drawing and then fill in the light and dark values by shading. This step is a very important part of the glazing process as you will need to spend some time finding the appropriate values. It will save you a lot of time (and tears) if you figure this out at the very beginning.

To see values better, take a black and white photo of your subject and a black and white photo of your drawing and compare the two. Do the values match up? Squint!

As you work on the drawing, have fun! Pretend that this is going to be the final piece. Include everything you want to see, experiment.  You may want to add more layers of charcoal and colored pastel. To do this you’ll need to fix the layers beneath so that they do not smear into the top layers.

I use non-toxic Spectra Fix. As you can see, it tends to squirt out unevenly. Just dab up the excess with a paper towel.

After you are satisfied with your drawing. Transfer it onto your canvas.

Here are the steps:

Trace the drawing on transfer paper. Tape the transfer paper to the drawing so it will not shift.

Flip over the paper and coat with dark chalk.

Flip back onto canvas exactly where you want it. Tape down to canvas so it won’t move.

Press over traced lines with sharp pencil. Check to make sure the transfer is happening.


You don’t need to make it detailed, just a map of shape and light changes. Chances are you may need to augment the canvas drawing.

In the next step we tone the canvas a warm semi-transparent color. I am using Yellow Ochre.

Our drawing is made of charcoal which will smudge away if we paint over it at this stage. To secure the drawing onto the canvas I use a water soluble walnut drawing ink. You can use any ink. I paint over the traced lines. This ink will wash off with water, so I could change the lines if necessary. It will not wash away with oil, however, so when we paint over it, after it has dried, if will remain visible.

If your paint is too thick, mix in a little linseed or walnut oil to make it spread more easily. Avoid mixing in mineral spirits as this will dull the surface.

Let the paint dry over night. Make sure the paint is dry before you begin the next step. You may want to start another drawing and transfer while waiting!

In the next step we make a grayscale painting. This is where the value drawing comes in handy. Reference your drawing and the observable object (if you are working from observation).


Mix up a grayscale for your palette.

I am using a paper plate with a barrier surface. I start with Ivory Black and Lead White (you can use Titanium White). I make several shades of gray. I will not be using pure white or pure black in my painting. I am using a medium called Neo Megilp which has been formulated to perform like an “Old Masters” painting medium which allows you eliminate the appearance of brushstrokes and blend easily.

Neo Megilp is a glazing medium. I put a blob in the middle of my palette and will pull it into the values as I need them. I use soft bristle brushes for the glazing process.

I make a grayscale or “grissaile” painting first, before adding any color. I keep the paint thinned with the medium. I make sure this paint layer remains smooth without texture. Tuexture comes much later.

This concludes Part 1. I will let this first pass dry to the touch, about 12-16 hours. With “fresh eyes” I will reevaluate it and correct  areas and layer more if necessary. I want to get the grayscale just right.

This process takes time! Please enjoy the slowness of it. It will allow you to think more and change more as you proceed.

Part 2 will cover the next step, color!