Nizhoni Landscape

This summer, we migrate to New Mexico to beat the heat. I find myself at about 6,000 ft. living in the middle of a grassy pinion forest near Silver City. A perfect place to immerse in plein air painting. Nizhoni translates to “beautiful”.


Here are the fruits of the first week on the hillside.

As you can see, I like plants. In the wild, plants need each other to get started and mature. Groupings like this are called “guilds”. In the Sonoran desert we have the Saguaro Guild, which combines a palo verde tree and a saguaro and other smaller shrubs. The saguaro seedling uses the shade of the palo verde to get started and eventually grow up through to direct sunlight.

I use my plein air painting skills to observe plant relationships. Here I see guilds, not with saguaros, but pinion and oak trees. While observing plants, many wonderful animals drift through: elk, deer, turkey, many birds, lizards etc. definitely not lonely here.



Even though the temperatures are cooler, the sun is still pretty intense.

Sunny selfies for ya!

I can’t end this post without a plug for the upcoming Silver City Blues Fest, memorial day weekend.

The Mimbres Region Arts Council (MRAC) and Silver City Arts Association (SCAA) are putting on a plein air painting competition during the blues fest and I signed up!

Find out more at

It all takes place in Gough Park, 1201 N Pope St, Silver City. Gough is pronounced goff.IMG_7936

Here, I’m practicing on the pagoda, and liking more the morphology of the Park’s trees:

But I really rather prefer the view behind me for the quintessential New Mexico feel.


Hey, wish me luck!


 carpe mañana


Springtime in Sedona

Now is the time for a quick trip to the Verde Valley and Red Rocks of Sedona. I (we) hit the road, yay!


The weather is perfect for outdoor painting.

(Snake-boots, in case you were wondering:)

Lately, I’m making small plein air paintings on linen. Small so I can make several studies of a scene in a couple of hours. This quicker work sets me up for studio painting later. I appreciate the freshness of the small works and love the swishy-scrubby brushstrokes and transparent to opaque layering.

Here are some examples of the weeks work:

While in Sedona, I stop at the Art Center, where the Arizona Pastel Artist’s Association (APAA) is having their National Show. IT IS Fabulous!

Pro Pastelist Aaron Shuerr gives a great demo on his red-rock country pastel painting process:

It’s an exciting week, actually get work done and have a blast, now to keep up with the plein air “quickies”.


P.S. Open Studio is April 14 &15 from 10-4pm. My home studio will be open. These and many more works will be on display and for sale. Please stop in.

Painting in San Miguel de Allende

Workshops are an important way to improve all around; new place, new people, new ideas…all coming at you super fast. It all works its way into the psyche and comes out in new and exciting ways…and continues to influence work miles ahead.

Here is a quick recap of my recent Art Travel Trip to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico this winter. I love this workshop because you get an awesome good deal with three amazing artist instructors: Anne Blair Brown, Thomas Kitts and Frank Gardner.


Before the workshop starts, I tour around San Miguel. There are botanical gardens, courtyards, easy-to-read-signage. The city is a colorful, magical place.

We begin most days in front of Frank’s Gallery.

Here are pics of my fave morning vistas from the short walk there:

And coffeshop stops:

During the program, we divide into three groups and rotate. Each day a different instructor teaching a different aspect of plein air.

Thomas in the Garden; cast shadows, pedestrians and architecture.

Anne in a quiet courtyard; warm imprimatura (underpainting), loose brushstrokes, composition and perspective.

Frank at his land off the Old Camino Real; forced perspective, cactus, animals and tack.

There isn’t a lot of down time, but I manage to work on Tiny Sketch San Miguel, 100 pages almost!

Paint a few studies:


Meet critters…


…and great people!


Viva Plein Air!





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:

or and


contact me directly at


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:


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:


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:



Pastel From the Ground Up

February 15, 22, March 1, 8, 15

Wednesdays 9-12

$150 members/$200 non-members

sign up at:


The Colored Wilderness: Pastel Workshop

February 17, 18, 19

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10-4PM

$150 members/$200 non-members

sign up at:


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: or respond to this post.



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?


Plein Air Palo Verde in the Tucson Mountains


Good show this year with more to come. The foothills Palo Verde have delicate light yellow spray.

We find a great spot at Ironwood picnic area with the Tucson Pastel Society to paint out at 8AM. Nice cool start. We are all primed for the Plein Air Convention, PACE16 (starts tomorrow).

Wrap up by 11 AM. Things are heating up!

Meredith Milstead_Red Cholla_8x8

Desert Fireworks, 8×8, oil on linen, 2016, M.Milstead

Pastel and Art in Malibu and Beyond

Recently: Spring Break trip out to the Golden State to camp with friends and family at Leo Carillo State beach. A tad bit of wind on the water makes for great sea spray effects.


Our awesome daytime at the beach “rock” interpretations:




At night, we have the Equinox moonlight on. Wow!


And can’t forget the Malibu Seafood shack for fortification of fresh clams, etc. (Yes, I am related to the featured child…he’s a good sport posing for his Auntie M.)


A trip to L.A. is not complete without museum going…The art scene is diverse.

After the beach we head up the Pacific Coast Highway to the Getty Villa, a must-see for ancient art and history lovers.

Next: Bergamot Station on Michigan Avenue, with local and international contemporary art. Neon is big here.

Armand Hammer museum is currently showing a wonderfully comprehensive collection from The Black Mountain College.

R. Buckminster Fullers sketch for a geodesic dome and student work from Joseph Albers’ color theory lessons.

Hammer selections from the permanent collection include a sweet pastel by Odilon Redon. Love that blue!


Fun entry stairway murals by L.A. painter  Kenny Scharf.

And finally a wrap up with easter egg dying. Such are the simple pleasures of children…and grown up artists.


Adios L.A. see you again sometime….soon.