Monday, August 26, 2013

oil and cotton

Oil and Cotton, a haven for artists. All photos by Frances Moulin
During the whole "rediscovering my creative self" phase (which may or may not still be in effect...), there was a place that helped support my efforts. Tucked away in the cool and eclectic streets of Oak Cliff, Dallas lies a creative commons that appreciates and encourages the arts - in all its forms - for all ages, whether professional or novice. A quirky little space that offers weekly classes and workshops in poetry, calligraphy, abstract and watercolor painting, printmaking, embroidery and leatherworking. You can even learn to marble paper or weave a mini Navajo rug, if you like.

Such a simple and delicate tissue flower creation - would be perfect for a party or shower.
Lovely little door and clothespins for hanging masterpieces.
The first class I took at Oil and Cotton was "The Supposed Object" with artist Rebecca Carter, an 8-week adult art class that encouraged experimentation with various materials and focused on one item of your choosing. When we first arrived, Rebecca had us write on a piece of paper the reason we were taking the class - because, let's be honest, we're all seeking something. My response was (and I still have this piece of paper in my studio), "I hope to find the creative person I used to be (I miss her)." This was, of course, during a time when I was lost in the corporate world and seeking a more meaningful and artistic life. It was this class that helped push me and kick-start that journey.

The "wash your paintbrushes" station - yet so much more.
Most recently I took a photography class with photographers Derek Rankins and Matt Golden, the first class in a four-part series (find out more here). The class was all about getting to know your camera, and I learned truly valuable information, particularly since I'm a self-taught photographer. We went through the ins and outs of the DSLR camera, talked a bit about photo history, and had some time to take photos, discuss, edit and print. These guys are seriously great - extremely knowledgeable professionals who are clearly passionate about their craft. Oh, and they said next time they might bring mimosas and snacks...just sayin'.

I took this photo with Derek's macro lens. I can't even talk about how spectacular it is.
Won't you buy it for a sweet, starving artist/blogger/aspiring photographer?
Did I mention the space also has an incredible studio and sells all kinds of supplies? An absolute oasis for artists.

So inspired by that chalkboard.
A happy, little weaving project.
Oil and Cotton is owned by two artists, Shannon Driscoll and Kayli House Cusick, who are passionate about interdisciplinary arts and driven by their motivating philosophy to "make do with what you got." Isn't that brilliant, inspiring and so relevant for all of us? Because we're all scrambling to get through life, one day at a time, making do with what we've got. Oil and Cotton just may help you discover - or bring out - your inner artist so you can make that life a bit more creative and colorful.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

marfa, texas

All photos by Frances Moulin
For our three year anniversary trip, the hubs and I decided to take a most random trip to Marfa. We kind of made this pact when we got married that each year we would go to a US destination we had never been together, and since budget was a bit of an issue this year, we decided on Marfa. Here's why.

A few months back, Monsieur Moulin met a Marfa-based artist on a plane, and he instantly became hooked on the idea of visiting. I had heard of it merely from Prada Marfa fame and from a few blog entries I fancied. So being the pseudo-adventurers we are, we decided, why not? We found a ranch in nearby Alpine via VRBO that let us bring our three (yes, three) dogs, so we packed up and took the eight hour road trip to our West Texas destination.

Food Shark - a dining experience, indeed. The S'mores cookies are worth it alone. 
Of course there was a cowboy.
Marfa has a population of like 2,000 people. Hence the baby water tower. 
To summarize Marfa: It's super quirky and strangely intriguing, with a sleepy West Texas vibe. A hipster's paradise. We ate at Food Shark, the eclectic and beloved food truck, walked into the often hidden gallery doors, visited a few lovely boutiques, roamed the historic Hotel Paisano, and did Marfa at night: the essential late night grilled cheese; a movie screening in the park; and dancing at Planet Marfa, complete with a larger than life teepee.

Gasp, re: the colors.

Hotel Paisano is where they filmed the classic movie Giant with Elizabeth Taylor
and James Dean - his very last movie. 
And of course we visited Prada Marfa, which was truly fascinating, and we went to the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, where, no big deal, we saw Saturn through a telescope. Rings and all. And no less than one zillion stars in the West Texas Sky. Probably our most memorable and romantic experience. Oh, and we totally saw the mysterious Marfa Lights, which are said to only make an appearance a mere 10-20 times per year. But maybe that's what they tell the tourists?

Prada Marfa is actually located in Valentine, Texas, an even smaller town outside of Marfa.
The definition of "in the middle of nowhere."
This is deep, y'all.
On the way to the McDonald Observatory. Mother Nature is absolutely brilliant.
Wild Rose Pass. Although those aren't real blooms, I love the concept and imagery.
We also toured the streets of Alpine, a quiet little artist town amongst the Texas mountains. There were a handful of antique stores and galleries, and I discovered a talented clay artist named Karen Nakakihara. I bought the cutest little rabbit business card holder - because apparently I can't go anywhere without buying something with a rabbit on it.

One of our goats at the ranch. I felt like they were constantly shouting expletives and
vowing to kill us if only they could get through the gate. Naturally, I want one now.   
The rock that we added to the owner's garden - their creative version of a guest book.  Did I
mention they also gave us fresh eggs from their hens? Such a memorable stay.
All-in-all we had a truly unique experience in Marfa - a laid back and completely different kind of vacation. And we laughed so much. If you have the option of traveling via plane or car, I say car (almost) 100 percent of the time. You get to experience so much of the world you wouldn't normally get to see up in the clouds. And, I mean really, how many of you actually knew there were mountains in Texas?