Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Color Collaborative: October: Blue

Image from Nomadic Pursuits, via Pinterest

Here in New Mexico, we are fortunate to enjoy beautiful blue skies almost all the time, with 300 sunny days per year. I show you our sky pretty often; I'm a sky-watcher and I love to share what I see. There are other beautiful blue sights to see in our state, part of a proud cultural and architectural tradition that I enjoy just as much - the brilliant blue-painted doors and wood trim on many New Mexican homes (including my own). This is often referred to as Santa Fe style, or Taos style, but it can be seen all over the state. Doors, window trim, flower boxes, vigas and canales might be painted in some shade of blue, standing out against the earthier tones of the stucco that covers most homes here. The stucco blends into the high-desert landscape; the blue shines boldly.

Image from Flickr, via Pinterest

Why blue? There are numerous schools of thought on this subject. Some say that the color blue wards off evil spirits, keeping them from entering one's home. This tradition probably began with the early Spanish settlers. Or maybe the color is connected with Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to Juan Diego, a Native American peasant, in 16th-century Mexico City. Also known as the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe is associated with sky blue, the color of the robes she wears. The tradition might also be traced to the beliefs of Pueblo Indians, for whom colors are indicative of directions, with blue symbolizing southwest.

Still others cite the blue doors on the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, a compound built in the 1600's as the seat of Spain's colonial government, as a source of inspiration. And then there are the theories about spirituality and connections to heaven. Nobody seems to know exactly why blue doors are such an important tradition here. There are as many reasons for blue doors in New Mexico as there are blue doors, I think.

Today, we see blue doors as a sign of welcome, a symbol of peace and tranquility within, an extension of goodwill to those entering. I like this theory best; it's why I've kept blue on the exterior of my home, a shade somewhere between slate and royal. My doors are not blue (they're carved natural wood, too pretty to paint), but the wood trim on my home is blue, and I decorate the yard with blue pottery and blue glass marbles in the xeriscaping gravel. I love the tradition and I'm proud to celebrate it.

Image from 500px, via Pinterest

The most interesting part of this tradition is the variety - there is no set shade of blue to use. Walk the Canyon Road in Santa Fe, or stroll the Plaza in Taos, and you'll see many brilliant shades of blue on houses, shops and galleries, ranging from palest aqua and soft powder blue to bright turquoise, clear azure and deep indigo. Set against earth-toned stucco and stone, the windows, doors, courtyard gates and other architectural features really pop. But they're a calming influence too, signifying protection and peace, welcoming visitors, drawing them in.

Image from Flickr, via Pinterest

Blue doors, with all their mysterious and much-debated origins, are one of the best things about my beautiful state. This is a diverse place, one of the oldest in the Americas, with deep and varied cultural roots. The unique tradition of blue doors is one that ties together some of the most important parts of our heritage - the beliefs of ancient native peoples, the influence of Spanish colonial rule, and our collective relationship with the endless sky.

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Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below: 

Annie at Annie Cholewa 
Sandra at Cherry Heart 
Sarah at mitenska
 
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.

35 comments:

  1. Love your post today! How interesting! The architecture in your state looks stunning and the mixture of blue and earthy stucco is very effective colour wise, isn't it? Iconographically in Western art, the Virgin Mary was painted dressed in blue since the medieval times. Duccio was doing so in Sienna in the 13th century as the "madonna" was greatly venerated in the city. At the same time Lapislazuli was being imported from Afghanistan and from that semi precious stone they extracted the Ultramarine powder used to make the most expensive pigment:blue. Blue was used for the most important sections of paintings, the Virgin's robes being the most sacred. Its association to the Virgin of Guadalupe makes sense to me.... We recently painted our door blue, my favourite colour, and it is lovely to know that it has some calming, welcoming attributes too. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely weekend! Pati x

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  2. I love the blue doors against that fabulous terracotta colour. Nice to know that it has welcoming and tranquil meanings too. How I envy you your endless blue skies - today in our part of the UK it's a rather nondescript grey; not exactly cheering to the soul! xx

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  3. Really interesting to see the colours of buildings where you live Jennifer. They're very striking and I love the shades of blue, whatever the reason is for them!

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  4. The blue against the stucco is stunning, whatever its underlying reasons or meaning. I loved this post as where you live is so visually different from me, thank you for the wee tour.

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  5. I loved your post today Jennifer, so interesting. The blue looks stunning against the stucco walls, what a lovely tradition, however it came about. Thank you for sharing and have a lovely weekend. Jane xx

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  6. What a lovely post Jennifer, so nice to see and learn a little more about your state. The blue doors are fantastic, they look just right in that environment. CJ xx

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  7. It's a beautiful tradition too. The blue against the terracotta is a great combo.

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  8. Blue is the perfect complementary colour to the earthy brown buildings - it looks stunningly beautiful. No other colour would look as good. I love the architecture of your area so much, and have great memories of the week we spent in New Mexico about ten years ago. Great post, Jennifer.

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  9. Gorgeous pictures! I haven't been to the South West in such a long time.

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  10. The buildings look amazing with their blue doors. :o)

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  11. It's good to read one of these posts and actually learn something! I always associated turquoise jewellery with your part of the world, but not blue doors - here in Europe they're synonymous with the Greek Islands.
    Great insight into the history and culture of your state.
    Sarah.

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  12. I love the idea of blue welcoming doors. Ours is glass panelled unfortunately but an imaginary blue from now on. Thanks for this informative post Jennifer. x

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  13. Lovely. I have a much better appreciation for all those blue doors!!! Blue....not my first color of choice (actually not my second, third or fourth....) but I can certainly appreciate the symbolism and tradition. Perhaps I'd feel a bit differently about the colour if it wasn't for the fact that our whole state is entombed with that bright, garish 'Kentucky Wildcat Blue'. I'm not a fan. (!!!!)

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  14. So interesting to hear all the reasons for the many blue doors in your state and also to learn a bit more about where you live. That's the great thing about blogging, we get to know about places miles away from where we live ourselves, places we've never been.

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  15. My Sons loves photography. He has amazing BLUES in his portfolio from Mexico. I'l forward this post

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  16. I loved reading all of this information about the blue doors. The pictures are so beautiful too. Thank you for sharing with us Jennifer.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  17. Beautiful blues and whau they do pop up against those terra cota colors. Great tradition!

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  18. Those are wonderful images.. makes me want to go out and paint our white back door blue.. turquoise, I think. 300 days of blue sky? Amazing. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  19. The blue is just so striking, and happy :) Loved learning the reasons for the choice of blue.

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  20. It is so interesting to consider the significance of blue as it is displayed around us, but your last phrase, "our collective relationship with the endless sky" speaks to my heart about why I have grown to appreciate blue so much. The first time I saw a photo of earth from outer space I was filled with loving awe! Our big blue marble we are privileged to live on is magnificent and as a earthling looking up and seeing the many shades of sky blue, I am naturally drawn to admire and appreciate blue. Thanks for another wonderful post, Jennifer. xx

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  21. It is so interesting to consider the significance of blue as it is displayed around us, but your last phrase, "our collective relationship with the endless sky" speaks to my heart about why I have grown to appreciate blue so much. The first time I saw a photo of earth from outer space I was filled with loving awe! Our big blue marble we are privileged to live on is magnificent and as a earthling looking up and seeing the many shades of sky blue, I am naturally drawn to admire and appreciate blue. Thanks for another wonderful post, Jennifer. xx

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  22. Hey Jennifer.
    I really enjoyed this post, and all the theories as to the origins of blue doors. My front door is blue, and I like to think it's a welcoming home. I love how you embrace and appreciate your adopted home town. We are very similar in that respect I think.
    Leanne xx

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  23. What a fabulous and fascinating post ... the colours of the houses in your part of the world have always interested me. I love the thought of all those different shades of blue everywhere.

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  24. I love your earth toned stucco properties with their various blue accessories of doors and windows - it is interesting the way different areas and countries do similar things - I think of Greece with its white houses and blue doors, Norway uses wooden clapboard painted in tones of rust and ochre, and here in the Cotswolds we use a putty green or greyish blue paint colour to compliment our honey coloured stone houses.
    A really interesting post which I enjoyed reading.

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  25. I could look at your photos all day, they are just beautiful. My parent's lived in NM and loved the blue skies.
    Blue has always been a favorite here and now I want to paint my red door blue! :)

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  26. I appreciate how even within the tradition of earth coloured walls and blue doors there is room for an individual to express themselves in different shades of blue. We also see this combination in the south of France. Friends live near Avignon and their very old rough plastered house has pale blue doors and shutters which looks stunning. A really interesting post Jennifer, I loved all your images.

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  27. Beautiful shots of blue - so unique from anywhere else I've been. Have a good weekend. ;)

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  28. I love these shots! The blue with the stucco is really beautiful!

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  29. I love the photos you found for today's blog entry. The blues look stunning against the walls. Envying you your blue skies as well - we've got very dreary and grey this week.

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  30. Such a lovely and interesting post, Jennifer. I didn't know the history of the blue doors.....how beautiful they look!
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend.
    Helen xox

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  31. The images here are just lovely, but what I really think is that there is so much beauty in your words. A wonderfully expressed and written post, Jennifer. Thank you.

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  32. Such an interesting post. I love the colour of the blue doors against the terracotta walls. Have a great weekend!

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  33. that is a gorgeous color.... I love the way it pops against that clay!

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  34. Oh wow, Jennifer, what a wonderful post! I like how you pulled so many threads together into one theme of blue. A really interesting post too, thank you. x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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