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!

Desert Jewels at Agua Caliente Park: November 5-December 7

Hey! I know it’s a looong way out there to the Ranch House Gallery at East Roger road and Soldier Trail, but it’s worth it! (12325 E Roger Road)


Visit this Oasis in the desert this November and see some Desert Jewels (paintings) while you’re at it. My work is for sale, $350-$650. Gallery Hours 10-3 PM, closed Monday and Tuesday.


In this post I am showing off my Plein Air works in the gallery. Many of the paintings have appeared on the Excursions blog already, complete with their inspiration and the process behind the making.

Here are a few for you:

Two Palo Verdes, the first from Tohono Chul Park and the second from Tucson Mountain Park.

Two Mesquite trees, the first from South Patagonia, the second from North Patagonia.

To see more about these paintings  go to: Painting Patagonia

The Patagonia School House Playground equipment. Watch for a series of playgrounds coming up…yes, paintings of playgrounds.

Our Favorite Saguaro from Tumamoc Hill. It blew down this monsoon and is no more!

To see more, go to: The Tumamochian Chromatosphere

Painting in Saguaro National Park East.

Overcast at Saguaro East.

Javalina Point in Saguaro East…Love to paint in Saguaro East in the winter-time.

Painting Saguaro West at Signal Point. Not the same point of view for the painting but the same time. The light was changing fast! That is Baboquivari (important peak) in the way back (in the painting).


At Bearpaw Guest Ranch at the edge of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico.

To see more about Bearpaw Ranch, go to: Plein Air New Mexico with Cows

Ok, that’s enough for now, take a half-day out to see the show and enjoy the peaceful scene.  I will be there for a paint out on November 19 at 1:30 PM. I look forward to seeing you then!

Dos Pepe’s, Sweet Pete, Painters from November 9th paint out and the Lovely Gay Scheibl, painting companiera and the other half of Desert Jewels at the Agua Caliente Ranch House Gallery, Nov 5-Dec 7, 10-3PM, closed Monday and Tuesday.

Don’t miss it!

Questions? E mail studiomilstead@gmail.com.

Open Studio at Tucson Pastel Society

Every first Wednesday of the month, the Tucson Pastel Society hosts an Open Studio for one full day. In the morning, we study the figure. In the afternoon we work from several still life set-ups. Anyone can come and work in any medium as long as it’s odorless (for oil painters).

I host the Still Life segment of Open Studio. Here are pics from our last session. I look forward to our session and enjoy arranging the set ups…but I welcome your input! Always feel free to feel free to input.

Next session, Wednesday, November 2. Figure from 9-12 and Still Life from 1-4.

$10 full day (same price for one or both sessions).

Stay a full day or a half day. Bring your lunch or cross the street for Subway, Frys or Chinese, or Taco Fish food truck a half a block away (best fish tacos!)

See you here!

Tucson Pastel Society Building, 2447 N Los Altos, 85719