HoTA Open Studio Next Weekend, October 29-30, 10-4PM

Greetings Friends!

I’m on the Heart of Tucson Art, HoTA, tour this Fall, October 29-30, Halloweeny time.

Next weekend, very soon!

Zocalo Magazine has the map. I am #42.

Come, see, in an Open House setting. There will be lots of new stuff I’m really excited about including travel stories, serial-killer-paintings, and “pastoralia” from Patagonia (AZ), Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), Tumamoc Hill, Tucson, California and Colorado.

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MM paints on Kitt Peak, AZ. Photo Credit: Valerie Milner-Graham

photo credit Paul Mirocha

MM paints on Tumamoc. Photo credit: Paul Mirocha


MM paints Rico, Colorado. Photo Credit: Gay Scheibl


MM paints at Leo Carillo in Malibu with fave kiddos. Photo credit: Julie Milstead


AZ Sunbaked selfie

See you soon!


Treats? Mr. Pepe…Photo credit: Mikaela Quinn

Tutorial:Triads in Oil Paint

Here is a mixing and painting demonstration for our first triad class.

We are exploring the possibilities of the primary triad: Red, Yellow, Blue.

There are many many tubes of paint and selections of each color to choose from for this triad.

Naturally, in painting, you will discover what works for you by trying different combinations out, which takes time, so have fun with it and think “research and development”.

Another way to decide which paints to use is to refer to the material/physical properties of the paint.

  • Is it transparent, semi-transparent or opaque? Similar qualities might make better mixers although there are always exceptions (we are not making rocket fuel, after all).
  • What is the tinting strength? When mixing a strong tint into a weak tint use a tiny speck at first, otherwise the stronger tint will totally take over, (think about what happens when you mix Phthalo blue into anything).
  • Lastly, consider the prismatic richness (rainbow intensity) of the paint, is it dull/earthy (yellow ochre) or bright and bold (cadmium yellow)? Paints with similar qualities might mix better than a mishmash of bright and dull (but this does not mean you cannot enhance a color with a brighter one if it feels right to you…color conveys mood/emotion aka. feeling).

In class we talked about a few different primary triads.


  • Earthy: Venetian red, yellow ochre and cerulean blue.
  • Traditional: Cadmium red, cadmium yellow or gamboge, and ultramarine blue.
  • High Key: Magenta, hansa yellow and cyan.

Our reference book is Confident Color by Nita Leland

We spent some time mixing the palette:

  • Place three generous piles of paint on the outer edge of your palette.
  • Scoop a portion of each one into a separate pile and mix them together to make a “mother” pile.
  • You want to mix something that does not lean towards any of the three colors, a neutral “gray-like” color.
  • Test the neutrality by mixing a small bit with white.
  • Once you have a good pile, divide it into three and align each of the three under a pure color (unmixed) pile.
  • Mix a bit of each corresponding primary into each pile. This will make a colored shade of each primary.
  • Take a bit off and add white to make a tone.
  • Take a bit off of the pure pile and mix white into it to make a tint.
  • Save a bit of the original “mother” to make a grayscale to use for areas of absolute “rest” in your painting. (the cones do not register”gray”, this allows them to relax, which makes you relax,  when your eye looks at gray).

See below for all of the mixtures.


and placing them into a pie chart for the record:


We toned the canvas with the color that reflected the temperature of the light source:

Blue for LED.

Pink for Daylight Balance Fluorescent/LED.

Yellow for incandescent (ordinary lightbulb and candlelight).

Here is an example for Blue:

See here the difference the light makes on the yellow and red still life compared to the blue.


Here is an example of halogen, which is warm (yellow), emphasized by the yellow subject matter and blue accent.

  • In this example I work darkest dark first and each color at a time, blue first; shade, tone, tint.
  • Then red not in any particular order, then yellow; shade, tone, tint.
  • Then, I repeat the process if I’ve left something out… This way, if there is a neutral color I can’t identify at first, I can leave it until the next pass…
  • Usually, I can figure it out after some practice identifying more obvious colors first…have faith!

If you make your drawing with a paintbrush, it will prevent you from over-detail. I use a long filbert, called an Egbert, it holds enough paint for drawing. Get loose! Remember, you want a general map and you can always wipe out what does not work.

Now, try some different triads or try different dominant colors or repeat what you’ve already figured out…just paint.

Okay, now no excuses for not doing your homework!

Art Classes Coming Soon

Hi Everyone,

I am offering classes this September-November out of the Tucson Pastel Society Building through the Art Verve Academy.

For location and registration information please visit



Drawing With Color: Perspective


Four Sunday mornings

September 18-October 9

9-12 Noon

$130/$35 drop in


Drawing with Color: Composition


Four Sunday mornings

November 6-27

9-12 noon

$130/$35 drop in




Color in Oils: Triads (3 color harmony)

some oil painting experience necessary

Four Sunday afternoons

September 18-October 9

1:30-4:30 PM

$130/$35 drop in


Color in Oils: Tetrads (4 color harmony) 

some oil painting experience necessary

Four Sunday afternoons

November 6-November 27

1:30-4:30 PM

$130/$35 drop in

Note: I teach all day on Sunday; drawing in the morning and oil in the afternoon. Consider making a day of it and take both classes with 1 1/2 hour lunch break. You can use what you’ve learned in the morning as subject matter for the afternoon painting session. This might sound like a lot, but you’ll be surprised how well the classes go together and how much more quickly you will find success.

Please register through

Find out more about each class; course description and materials list, at

If you are not sure, you can pre-register, just to let me know you are thinking about coming or Email me at meredithmilstead@yahoo.

Remember, you can pre-register and pay me as you go before each class.

See you in a class soon!

Colorado Cornucopia

It has been a busy July traveling and painting wise.

Some of the booty:


My painting philosophy and/or artistic viewpoint is to record what grabs my attention on any day, at any time or otherwise whenever possible…the less pondering, the better. Later, in a reflective mood, I can look at all of it and begin to see ideas strong enough for further exploration…or just enjoy the fact that I did something or went somewhere and made an effort to remember it (as is the purpose of this blog).

So much (for) forgetting…

Each painting has a story, here to follow, a little elaboration on the process.

So, why Colorado?

It all revolves around the Durango Art Center, of which I am a member. Anyone can apply, but the judges want to look at each work in the flesh, not on a monitor, to decide…I like this because much work that looks good on a screen does not always look so great in situ and conversely, work that does not read on a monitor could be dynamite in person…Kudos to DAC for their old-school approach.

So, back and forth we go delivering work and picking it up, getting out of the stagnant hot n sticky Tucson studio for summer inspirations.

We arrive to participate in the Plein Air Show, juried by Dr. Don Cooke. We win Honorable Mention(s).

Dr. Don Cooke gives a lecture

Dr. Don Cooke gives a lecture

Janice Mackenzie, Honorable Mention

Janice Mckenzie, Honorable Mention

M.Milstead, H.M.

M.Milstead, Honorable Mention

That was fun.

We have a week or so between the judging and the opening so we explore the nearby lake

and, when it is raining, the cabin we are staying in.

Our doggies are patient, mostly.


And now,

a brief return to Tucson.

More Still Life since it is too hot to paint outside…

I want to say more about the blue Grid painting but that will wait for a Grid Blog…another time.

A quick trip to Yuma to see Grandma, she is 102, wow. She is very fun and has a good attitude and an interesting sense of humor, she is easy to love.


And view Art.


And back up to the beautiful CO for another round, with new painting buddies (yes, but no, not the doggies).


Road trip=Special Treats=yummy!

This time, we start in Rico and environs, on the other side of the mountains from Durango.

After warming up in Rico, we head over to “Watertown” to ride the Train to Silverton.


We take the car with an Historical Interpreter, recommended.



Trainview of the bluegreen Animas River.

We paint up Silverton.

Sans train, we head over Red Mountain Pass to Ouray.



Rained out…this happens a lot. But, fear not, Sunshine is on its way!


The view from our hotel is perfect for painting.

i go gaga for the floral explosions along the streets…perfect timing for peaking petunias! Gosh, I can see giant flower paintings in the future, must return next year for more R&D.

And on back to Rico via Telluride where we take a little detour up the mountain to visit Bridle-veil Falls.


Dallas Divide



We say goodbye and settle down for a day of R&R with a nice fire on a cold and wet day…painting of course.



Still Life set up of Carved Figures

Something to ponder, later…


Happy tails to you!


Until our next Excursion, adieu.


Oh, and here we are, back in the Studio…it never ends! Jack is cute, no?


Extreme Bloom du Jour

Summer Solstice and a Full Moon…can’t miss this.

Let’s see what’s happening on the Hill.


“Strawberry” moonset.


I pick a palette with orange for sunrise and tone the paper.

I want to paint before the sun, without artificial light. I am surprised by how difficult it is to see, surprise surprise no light, no see…What I learn is that, because I’ve been practicing in this spot with the same subject and I know where my colors are, I can do a lot without needing to see. Memory and habit kick in…this is fun!

But, if you are wondering what I’m looking at:




By 6 AM sunlight strikes and the dawn light fades. Time to pack up.

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Time is running out for our bloom and fruit catch 2016. The few hours I have left to record are of course during the hottest parts of the day.

I am bombarded with the dangers of being outside but, can’t stop now.


It is 108′, not a cloud in the sky, a little humid.

I have the palo verde.


Actually quite nice.


The noontime light brings out the true colors of the crown.

Yellow is cheery and red-violet super sweet and delicious.

I tone yellow because I see it but also because I need an uplift. I have to pretend these cast shadows are not obstructing the drawing, like looking through bugs on the windshield. Selective seeing such as it is.



And that’s 1:30-3PM.

Here is a peak at the project coming along. I wanted to take it into the night but won’t have time…perhaps another separate project, too bad that moon will be gone.

It starts at 4:30 AM and changes every 90 minutes. Ends around 5:30-6PM. I’m missing 10:00 and 11:30 now, but will get those in pretty soon, before the fruits fall.


(I will) Never forget the Saguaro Bloom!


Bloom du Jour # 7: First Fruit

Fruits are in full force. The crown I picked is slower because of its orientation away from the rising sun (I think). Today it is humid and cooler and so I go up at the dreaded noontime hour.

Reward! Fruit (well was fruit, all gobbled up now).


This means PINK, long wait, at last…here is the tetrad with red-violet (pinkish), yellow-green, red (pink) and green.

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I am using sanded (400-600 grit) U-Art pastel paper for these studies. You can’t mess around with the sanded paper…see it-state it, as they say.


Mixing the two reds and then applying alcohol for a quick drying wash/tone of the entire page. When in a hurry, 90 minutes, and with a larger format, 12×12, pre-toning the paper will let you leave areas alone that match or support the overall image.


The draw-in takes one-half hour.


Got my extremes in first; darkest darks and lightest lights.


And there it is! The, Aha!


And for the Grand Finale, a little gnat catcher swings in for a sampling of saguaro fruit deliciousness. This bird is really hanging out, long enough for me to find the camera, focus and snap a picture, well 20 pictures…so the fruit must be really worth it.


Big risk=Big reward, that’s our mantra.

No Bloom but Fruit du Jour 4 and 5

Here are the “warm”afternoon pastels of our favorite Saguaro crown…Did you know that blooms close as the sun sets!  I never noticed this…such are the benefits of observation.

On the Hill, it is 100 degrees, thank you Palo Verde tree shade.


Things are looking yellow-orange around 2.


And that’s a wrap for today.

The temps are going to skyrocket so I make a plan to get out for another afternoon before the big guns.

Fruit du Jour 5

I’m thinking I’ll catch some blooms today, since there were obvious signs of more action.


Awe, missed it!

This one starts later at 3:30 PM.  Not a one Saguaro with bloomage, too late in the day. Plenty of other interesting developments to observe…it never goes how I think it will, always a surprise!

Like this color choice…who would of thought, chartreuse?

But, then the red-orange creeps in…oh my, this may turn out to be my Frankenstein.

Possibly the heat is effecting coherency. Although, the afternoon breeze and thinking of Jack in the snow has a cooling effect.


The palette: Yellow-green, red-violet, red-orange and blue-green, a tetrad (4).


5 PM, the shadow of the Palo Verde moves over the crown which changes everything. 90 minutes is average for plein air.


Hmmm, kinda wild.

Surprisingly, not a walker at this usual high volume walker hour, smart walkers.


Still, a few more paintings to go. Can’t wait for those juicy red fruits!