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.