Page 69b23 Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
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More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has preserved.














Gouache not Watercolour - The denseness and opacity of gouache, compared to the translucency of watercolour, is easily seen here. Pencil lines of preliminary drawings - which many would object to - can often be seen in watercolour.

Gouache can instantly cover up such distractions so as not to mar the high quality finish in art work that clients demand for calendars, posters, advertising illustrations, and signs.

Don't be a dupe... use a loupe...

The Eyes have it... Left the horse's eye from the gouache above (an original artwork) hugely magnified, shows no uniform pattern, or grid of rows of dots, like those that entirely cover the Queen Victoria photomechanically reproduced photo right. That's why images made as gouaches are considered originals - desirable and valuable - and the Queen Victoria photo copy, a reproduction or repro - and cheap.

Think about it... In the original work of the horse's eye, you are seeing the actual paint of the original work itself magnified - the real gouache, directly, personally, painted on by an artist.

In Queen Victoria's eye, you are seeing only a photographic mechanical reproduction of the photo, not the real photo emulsion itself. Recopying the original surface mechanically - either the photo emulsion, or an original painting or print - with a camera and then creating a copy with a machine printer, creates and superimposes the grid of dots on the image.

Gouache is composed of pigment thickly suspended in water. A binder of aqueous gum arabic is added (to make the paint stick to paper) along with chalk to make the paints opaque.

The gouache technique has been used since the 14th century.

The term gouache is a French word from the 18th century, referring to the Italian word guazzo which denoted water paint.

Art Hider lived in western Canada for a time and his artwork reflected western subjects in this period, including Indians, buffalo, and horses.

Go to Art Hider


Below gouache paints.

The paints come in tubes, like high-end watercolours.

The paint squeezes out of the tubes as a thick gel. The colours are mixed with water in the hollows of the mixing plate. The water dish is for cleaning brushes when switching from one colour to another.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fabulous original work in gouache done by Art Hider, one of Canada's leading artists of the late 19th and early 20th century.

And no one painted horses better than Art. So much so that top Canadian artist JD Kelly sometimes got Art to paint the horses on his own commissioned canvases.

Here is a masterful work of Canadian Indians which Art probably executed for a large corporation. He added in some strategically placed bare space at the foot of his composition to allow for print or advertising.

Gouache is not watercolour, though both are water media, paint diluted with water.

Gouache particles mixed in the water are larger, and the ratio of pigment to water is much higher. So gouache paint is much more heavier, dense, and opaque. It has more reflective qualities and lasts better.

Because gouache is instantly opaque and can cover a surface quickly, commercial artists have always favoured it for design work for illustrations, comics, etc. It is preferred for most animation foreground cell work with watercolour used as background, and for poster work because it is faster to use than watercolour and is more durable.

Gouache Painting, Indians On the Hunt - AH Hider c 1910
Orig. gouache - Image Size - 55 x 65 cm
Found - Toronto, ON

Original Art (Gouache) - Originals & Repros 5

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Gouache Poster, Canadian Pacific - Charles Lamb, c 1925
Orig. gouache - Size - 34 x 50 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
A wonderfully evocative and romantic setting for a Canadian Pacific liner, with Champlain hailing us from atop the ramparts beside the Chateau Frontenac over the little town he started in 1608, and laid the foundations for modern Canada.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Gouache Poster, Canadian Pacific - Charles Lamb, c 1925
Orig. gouache - Size - 34 x 50 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
A Canadian Pacific liner creatively poised, following in the wake of Jacques Cartier's ghostly ship the Grande Hermine, which pinpointed the way to the first French colonization in Canada.

Two fabulous marine posters by Charles Lamb show the gouache technique on artwork he created for the Canadian Pacific Line.

The close-ups show typical panes of opaque paint as applied by the brush of the artist on this very artwork. The eye below is 4 mm across.

There are no intermediate photomechanical reproduction techniques applied to these works, that would have covered them with a gridwork of dots.

When completed, these posters would have been printed for advertising distribution, and copies would have been made to include artwork and labeling. The illustrations would then have taken on the grid of dots. They would have been framed and still looked wonderful.

But never like one-of-a-kind original master gouache paintings which these are. More importantly, they would not have been personally touched and touched up, by the master artist himself.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The Pioneers (detail), JD Kelly
Orig. gouache - Size - 55 x 72 cm
Found - Brampton, ON
Signed in JD Kelly's hand, Prov - JD Kelly friend collection

A powerful gouache preliminary mock-up of a great Canadian stereotype which JD Kelly embedded forever in the pantheon of heroes who created Canada - the colonial settler of early English Canada.

Go to Kelly's Pioneers
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Gouache, Opening the First Welland Canal (detail) - JD Kelly
Orig. gouache - Size - 61 x 81cm
Found - Aberfoyle, ON
Titled in JD Kelly's hand, Original printer registration marks, Prov - JD Kelly friend collection
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Artist's Proof, Opening the First Welland Canal - JD Kelly
Orig. Personal Artist's Proof - Size - 34 x 47 cms
Found - Aberfoyle, ON
Titled in JD Kelly's hand, Original printer registration marks, Prov - JD Kelly friend collection

It is quite easy to argue that one sees the artist at his creative and powerful best in the gouache paintings, when he is infusing the paper with his original idea for the figures and what they are doing.

The final colour painting is actually a mere recopying of what he already had created before. Some of the early immediacy, and power is lost, as you have to prettify everything to please the public...

In the gouache you can "feel" JD trying to bring his creation to life. When he painted the final he was doing mostly passive copy work.

As a creative artist, not a copy clerk, his brain was already focused on his next idea, that he would bring to life in a gouache.

JD the young artist, and as the man who created Canada in the mind set of a nation.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Radisson and Groseilliers (detail), JD Kelly
Orig. gouache - Size - 64 x 78 cm
Found - Toronto, ON

A fabulous gouache of JD's image of the Red Man during the early period of contact between the fur traders and the local Aboriginal People. The figure fairly bursts from the paper with rippling muscles from a man supremely fit from living entirely in tune with himself and nature.

Go to Kelly's Heroes 2
Go to Kelly's Heroes 1