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.

IMG_1605 2

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.

IMG_1506 IMG_1502

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!



Bloom du Jour 3

Had to leave town last week so missed out on Mejor Bloomage. But, that’s ok! because my mind has gone to fruits already anyway.

Welcome bloom du Jour third time, 8:30 AM start, earlier than the others, I see mostly violet this morning.


I tone my sanded paper violet and choose a color harmony which supports this hue. I pick a tetrad (4) of two complementary combinations; violet and yellow, blue and orange.

Also, must consider the “orange vest” effect which may be influencing the violet/orange choice. I like!

photo credit Paul Mirocha

Holly Hobby of Tumamoc Hill photo by Paul Mirocha

First pass of outlined drawing with slight pink and orange reflection.


I almost deviate to make a study of this other arm because it is so different and has blooms in sunlight which are attractive, but must stick to the plan.


Stay focused!


It’s 10:00 and the sun is moving around to pick up the crown. Everything is going to change dramatically now so it’s “Times Up”.


The morning studies are very cool overall, so I’ll try one in the afternoon next, to see if a warm color will dominate.

Until then,





Mr. Mahoney’s Marbles

I like things with history, patina and perseverance. Plants, animals, people, architecture…marbles.

I am also a big fan of working in series as a way of exploring an idea, visual or otherwise. So, when Mr. Mahoney’s 1930’s hard won marbles rolled onto the scene, I could not resist.



First pass done. Now to ponder on the painting(s)….and decide on the next move.  I need thinker paint, to get the feel of the chipped off glass and ceramic glazing from so many hits (and wins). Surface tactility is important here, these are Marbles, after all!

Thicker paint mixed with calcium carbonate. Second pass over the previous marbles.


and one final giant one to make the point-oil paint is tricky to handle this thick, you really cannot noodle it or it will turn to mud, as you can see, it takes practice.IMG_0068

It’ll go this way. The little swoop down on the right side is a photographic error. I’ll show you the framed work…later. The frame is going to be fun ?!#*;0

Mr.Mahoney's Marbles, 9@6x6 & 20x20, oil on linen, M.Milstead

Many thanks to Ms. Mahoney for lending the Mr’s marbles.