Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Framing Insights from September McGee Studios

"Music Series - Streets of New Orleans - Washboard Woman"

This is a brand new painting of a New Orleans street musician.
I was fortunate to have one of my new found friends and collectors lend me a few photos she took of the street musicians while in New Orleans that she knew I would enjoy painting...and I did! I painted "Washboard Woman" on a museum panel and had fun using a lot of color and texture to capture the vitality and spirit of this woman.

When it came to framing this piece it simply wasn't going to work to have just any 'ole frame. Yes, a frame can make or break a painting! I take great care to find the perfect frame for each of my paintings. I want the frame to accent the painting without taking away from the piece and to complement and balance the colors and subject matter. It is never about matching any particular decor, curtains or heaven forbid, a couch. The frame becomes the setting, the foundation on which to present your latest creation to the world.

I felt this particular piece would do best in a frame that reverberated the sounds of the instrument she was playing and to accent the hues, unique textures and the flavor of New Orleans! I often use beautiful gold framing and black gallery frames on many of my paintings. This time I was hunting around in the back of my framers warehouse where he stacks many unusual mouldings and came upon this gorgeous 4" frame. I knew instantly it was the perfect setting to allow the energetic ebullience of "Washboard Woman" to pop and give it the pizazz and zing this painting demanded. I wanted the final framed piece to echo her rhythmic tones.
If the viewer gets close and really listens, they are forever re-sounding.

The washboard was originally used for, you guessed it, washing clothes and found its way into the music world years ago from a mix of many wonderful cultures. Jug bands became popular in the 1920s and used washboards. Zydeco, jazz and various forms of folk music employ this unique instrument which is generally embellished with the musicians individual sounds. Bells, pots, cans, and many other fun and creative adornments add to their repertoire. Metal thimbles, guitar picks and even bottle openers are used to tap or rub rhythmically across the ribbed surface of the instrument. The washboard, or sometimes called the froittoir, is worn over the shoulders of the player like a breastplate. Many musicians spend years perfecting their washboard and novel sounds.

There is only one company left in the United States that still makes washboards, the Columbus Washboard Company located in Ohio. They began manufacturing in 1895 and continue on today... and they are helping out our troops! They are sending shipments of laundry supplies and washboards to our troops to help them with their laundry chores. And, like my art, all their products are
Made in America!
I always promote buying products made in our wonderful USA. I am proud to be an American and believe we should all invest in American made goods.

This holiday season, check out the labels on the products you are purchasing.
Buy products made in America as often as you can. Support the arts and music.
They are the gifts that last forever and enrich our lives and touch our souls.


My special thanks to Tawnya, a gorgeous woman with engaging eyes and a lovely smile - a woman with a generous heart who lends beauty wherever she goes.


Blessings of the season and the day to everyone.

September McGee

p.s. "Washboard Woman" is a 14" x 11" oil on museum panel available from my studio. She did have some pots and other accoutrements on her board, but this painting was too small to add all the detail. When and if I do a larger painting of her I will certainly add on her musical pots and bells.


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