Monday, July 11, 2016

Color and collaboration

For about two and a half years, I was fortunate to be a member of the Color Collaborative, a group of bloggers, organized by Annie Cholewa, who wrote monthly posts on various themes, all of which were tied together by color as a common thread. Mainly due to the natural winding-down that so often comes with a long-term project, the Color Collaborative has decided to call it a day. I debated about whether to write this post; I wasn't sure how exactly how I wanted to let go of the experience. In the end, I have decided to share my thoughts about what was, for me, a really formative and interesting experience. I have to tell you that I'm quite sad about this ending, though I know the time was right. It was a great experience. I felt honored to be a member of the group, which included some of the best bloggers I know of, and I will very much miss our monthly collaborations.


My first post with the group was as a guest poster, in February 2014. The theme was Storm, and I was eager to write about this topic because of my love affair with the mountain just a few miles from my home. I immediately thought about the topic in terms of the changing mountain vista in my backyard. The mountain is one of my best indicators of the weather and it never ceases to fascinate me. I think my post went over well; I was asked to become a permanent member of the Color Collaborative the following month.


My first post as a full-fledged member was in March 2014, on the theme of Bud. Again, I was really happy to have a topic to write on that I already loved and enjoyed explicating. The topics would become more challenging at times, such as when we wrote on the subject of Childhood (I ended up writing about my Brownie and Girl Scout uniforms, as I wasn't sure what to write about. It went well and scouting was a key aspect of my childhood. In hindsight, though, I wish I'd written about books, by far the most important part of my childhood). Other topics, such as Dress and Metal, made me feel a bit stretched, as I tried to think about these topics in terms of their importance, or interest, to me. I'm not really a clothes or jewelry person (some of my fellow Collaborative members seemed to have a lot more fun with topics like these than I ever did). But the chance to write on a theme, with color as sort of an overarching construct, really did help me think about color in different ways.

I never bought anything, or made a special trip, in order to write a Collaborative post. As a blogger, this is often tempting even when not involved with a prompt-based collaboration. I tried to look for items and experiences I already owned, that made a difference to my life, or at least things which exist in the community or landscape around me.


I often wrote about special family customs, like dyeing Easter eggs in the post themed Tradition. I also wrote about special family items sometimes, like in the aforementioned Dress post, as well as in Precious, where I shared a tiny family Bible passed down through the generations in the Bear's family (my son is the current owner of this heirloom and I am its safe-keeper). I also wrote, gleefully, about one of our favorite family traditions, the celebration of Halloween. We are total Halloween fanatics and it was a thrill to share our joy in that holiday.


One of my favorite posts to write was Collection, in which I shared a Hellmann's mayonnaise jar full of small trinkets and found objects collected and given to me by my father. Like me, he is a bit of a scavenger and loves to pick up weird, old things wherever he goes. He started filling the jar when he was a teenager in the early 1960's; some of the items have a definite of-their-time quality, which I think is really cool. I rarely stage my photos, preferring to keep things natural and rely on the cropping tool if any at all, but for this post I wanted the photos to do a lot of the talking, so I arranged items from the jar by their color, and used an editing filter in Picasa called Cinemascope. I wanted the photos to have an old-school look, like they were shot on film and put away for decades. I like the effect and it was a fun yet personal post for me to write.


I would say that Home was the most popular post among my readers. People said it was my best one, which may be true. I certainly enjoyed writing it. It was a subject that spoke to the true heart of me.


I tried, whenever possible, to bring the reader along with me, to see sights I saw in traveling or here at home in my community. Hence, posts such as Sail, in which I shared a visit by me and the Bear to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California. The topic was a challenging one for me since I haven't sailed much myself, but I did have the chance to spend a day among the sailboats in one of America's most renowned harbors, so it was interesting to translate the experience into a Color Collaborative post. I've also written about attractions closer to home, such as our local growers' market, which I wrote about in Market. One of the most important things I feel I can do as a blogger is to share the immediate world in which I live, work and play; I can't have you all over for a tour of my city and dinner back at my place, but I can photograph and write about my favorite parts of life here and share it with readers around the world, who share theirs with me too. That's a miracle in my book, a sure marvel of modern times.


The Color Collaborative often gave me a chance to explore one of my passions, cultural history. In posts such as Spice, where I discussed the origins of pumpkin pie, and Blue, about the custom of blue-painted doors and trimwork on New Mexican houses, I had the chance to do real research and fact-gathering, which I translated into blog posts about topics that interest and inspire me. I love to cook and I love home decor and taking it upon myself to learn some of the history behind these topics was exciting.


I learned some new technical tricks during my time in the Color Collaborative. I'd always admired other bloggers' collages comprised of photographs alongside complimentary solid cells. I started making these myself, using the online tools at PicMonkey, when I wrote my post on the prompt Birthday, which I wrote on the subject of my own birthday time of year, late November. Later, I also used similar collages in the posts Metal, Bird and Seedling, giving these posts a simpler look than some of my others which incorporate lots of individual photos. I loved learning something new and it was fun to create colorful collages that expanded on my words in their own ways.


Being part of the Color Collaborative was a positive and edifying experience. It brought me closer to some of my fellow bloggers. It gave me much to think about and aspire to, as I sought to give my posts a personal flair that only I could bring. As such, I often returned to the same topics (the mountain figured often, as seen above, again, in Photograph; fittingly, the mountain was my first subject as well as my last), but this is only because they mean so much to me, and because they can be examined and understood from so many different angles. As a blogger, I aim to bring my world sharply into focus whenever I write, both to allow me to appreciate it more and to give readers a clear view of what I see. As the only American member of the Color Collaborative, I felt that I had a special perspective at times, and a unique opportunity to share my own little world. Thank you to my fellow Collaborators; you have made blogging even more of a pleasure and I am thankful for the chance to create with you. Thank you, readers, for supporting and following along with us.

26 comments:

  1. Ah that is a shame Jennifer, I loved your posts and they certainly had an air of honesty about them. I really loved reading your post today, I teach GCSE English Language here in the UK and I loved the tone and pitter patter of your chosen words. Jo x

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  2. I always enjoyed your Colour Collaborative posts Jennifer, you write very well and ypur posts were always interesting. It is sad when these projects come to an end but there is usually a natural time span for such things. I remember lots of the posts ypu talked about, I think I have been reading your blog for quite a while now! X

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  3. As I typed in a comment to one of the other Collaborators, I too am sad that the project has ended. Each of you stretched my thinking and enriched my understanding about color and how it is a part of the world around us. Thank you once more for your investment of time and talent in creating your posts, Jennifer. As I view each post I receive it as a gift I open with pleasure. xxxx

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  4. I always enjoyed your CC posts, Jennifer. I was thinking about your Dad's jar just the other day when we finished our jar of mayo. Should I keep it and start collecting things in it? I didn't - I washed it out and put it in the recyling!

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  5. What a lovely post Jennifer. I really enjoyed all of your CC posts, and you've reminded me of some of my favourites - Collection, Storm and Home in particular. It was an enjoyable experience for me, I'm glad you feel the same way. CJ xx

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  6. I enjoyed your recollection of the color collaborative.. I also enjoyed each and ever post from those who participated. I always felt a LOT of thought was put into the posts. I have a question -- in the jar collection, are those beads? I think they are amazing! When strung it would look like a woven twisted rope. Cool! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. Yes, those are glass beads. They're a very, very pale blue color. I remember them being more of an ice blue when I was a child but they faded a lot. I don't know where he found them but there's a good little handful. Some of them still have bits of thread running through the center, like they were cut off a necklace. It's quite mysterious.

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  7. I remember many of those posts and enjoyed them. You are a talented writer and they were some good ones!

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  8. What a wonderful round-up of memories from this project. Sounds like you learned a lot through this journey - and I thank you for sharing with us.

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  9. I think I was introduced to you through the CC posts Jennifer and always looked forward to them. I feel sad they have come to an end too but I feel sure you will continue to write and enable us to enjoy your life in New Mexico through your wonderful way with words and realistic photographs. Thanks for the pointers to your favourite CC posts, I will enjoy catching up with these in due course.

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  10. The Colour Collaborative was how I found you and the other CC bloggers :-) and I enjoyed all the monthly posts. You do write beautifully, Jennifer, and I love reading about your world. Thank you for sharing it with us. Sam x

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  11. You certainly have a talent and flair for writing, the colour collaborative will be missed.

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  12. I have loved all of your Colour Collaborative posts, Jennifer, and will really miss them. As I read through this post I could remember many of the ones you talked about, but the one that stuck out the most was the one on your childhood and your Girl Scout uniforms (I have no idea why!). Thank you for all the time and thought you put into each of these posts.

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  13. So sorry to hear that such a wonderful project will be ending. Thanks for sharing the links to those beautiful posts♥

    summerdaisy.net

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  14. I will miss your lovely cc posts. So well written and enjoyable. It's good to have the theme for a post, somehow it makes it intriguing to see how different people interpret the same theme. I'm sure something new hopefully will replace cc one of these days :) B

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  15. I really enjoyed these posts, they were always interesting and as I didn't know the first thing about some of the subject you wrote about, I ended up learning from them too.

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  16. I am looking forward to reading some of your older posts as I have loved the more recent one's. As Jo says your posts were always so interesting and informative. Perhaps you could start your own collaboration?

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  17. Such a shame Jennifer , I really loved and looked forward to each monthly instalment. I learnt so much from each and very contribution. I honestly , will miss it . Thank you for the re cap .hope you are all in good health . Hugs

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  18. I really enjoyed your CC posts - I think my favourite was 'Home'. Though I shall miss those posts I look forward to all your others and more glorious photos of your beautiful mountain. xx

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  19. I remember reading various colour collaborative posts and always enjoyed them. It's good when something is interesting and thought provoking. You have some lovely photographs here.

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  20. Awww, I'm sorry to see the Color Collaborative end. Your posts were always so thoughtful and beautiful!

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  21. My thanks to you (and all the others) too. I've enjoyed so many of the posts, and to my shame commented on so few. But my belated thanks now, and I will continue to visit you often, to read, enjoy, and learn. Endings can be hard, but sometimes they are right despite that. All good wishes, Deborah

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  22. I always enjoyed your thoughtful colour collaborative posts Jennifer. But then I always enjoy your posts anyway! (Maybe you could begin something new if you would like to continue writing on a particular theme sometimes??) Thank you for all your hard work on the cc which brought reading pleasure to so many of us.
    Helen xox

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  23. I've enjoyed reading your colour collaborative posts, and Annie's too. It is interesting to read how a person has approached a topic, and made me think how I would approach it too. Thank you for sharing them with us.

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  24. I always loved your colour posts, I shall miss them x

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  25. What a terrific post. I'm so glad you wrote this, it was a lovely overview of your CC posts, which were always so good. I most enjoyed the glimpses you gave us of your local area and it's rich history and traditions, and also of wider American life, like when you wrote about your own childhood, family and home. This is always so fascinating to me, the ways our lives are similar and different at once. xx

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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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