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


HOTA Tour Sat/Sun April 14, 15 10-4PM

Hello All!

I’m on the Heart of Tucson’s Artist’s Studio tour this weekend. Please stop in to see the latest. A lot of new creations; small plein air oil paintings, colorful collage, large oil and acrylic abstract paintings, and encaustics, all priced reasonably!

Bush in Bloom, Cornville, AZ, plein air, oil on linen, $50

Bush in Bloom, Cornville, AZ, plein air, oil on linen, $50

See the add in Zocalo magazine and online for my location.

I look forward to seeing you and catching up!



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:

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.



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

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.

IMG_4863 copy

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

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!