Watercolour Lifting with Canson Héritage


Lawrence Art Supplies is now stocking Canson Héritage, a brand new watercolour paper that is a result of centuries old tradition and modern technological innovation. This 100% cotton paper was specifically designed to allow artists to lift colour easily and without damaging the paper’s surface. To celebrate the release of Canson Héritage, we decided to put its lifting ability to a test and give our readers a little insight into what it feels like working with this new paper.

1. Blotting on wet – tissue paper, sponge and cotton swabs

This might be one of the most likely ways watercolourists lift pigments off the paper. The benefits are endless and range from creating highlights to correcting mistakes. After creating a variegated wash with Phthalo Blue and Magenta on a piece of 300 gsm Rough textured Canson Héritage paper, I used an old sea sponge and some tissue paper to create a cloudy sky.

Blotting with sponge and tissue on Canson Heritage 300gsm Rough watercolour paper. Hardly any warping and the rough texture really lets the colours mingle!

This is a technique for the playfully minded – you can’t fully control what is going on on the paper and the result can be quite surprising. I loved the blooming effect created by the rough texture and the stark contour of the blotted clouds. I was able to achieve a variety of shades and patterns within the clouds and even to get back to the white of the paper where needed. Here is the finished but still juicy wet painting:

2. Lifting with brush – wet on dry

For this part of the project I wanted to paint a night sky and lift off the dried paint with a wet brush to create some planets, rather than leaving them white and painting the sky around them.

I started off with a thick wash using Phthalo Blue, Magenta and Paynes Grey on a 300 gsm Cold Pressed Canson Héritage paper and let it completely dry. Then, using a round synthetic brush, I wetted the selected areas in a circular motion. While still wet, I blotted off the water with tissue paper. The more I worked the surface, the lighter it got, which allowed me to gradually create a highlight on the planet without any hard edges. This technique resulted in softer edges than lifting from wet and I had much more control over the painting, too.

Planets on Canson Heritage 300gsm Cold Pressed watercolour paper

Here’s the end result:


3. Scraping with a bristle brush – wet on dry

After the the previous experiments, I really wanted to give the paper a challenge. I hadn’t managed to damage the paper so far, no matter how long I was working it, so I decided to use a bristle brush rather than a soft, synthetic one. I also wanted to test the 300 gsm Hot Pressed Canson Héritage paper and see if it lifts harder than the textured variants. To top it all, I picked the most staining colours I could find on my palette and created a rainbow wash with Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Phthalo Blue. I was ready to scrape until I got the paper back to white and I wasn’t disappointed. After much scraping and blotting, I managed to lift off all that staining colour in a cm wide strand and I was surprised to see that there was no damage done to the surface of the paper at all. This is perfect when you need to correct mistakes because you can be sure that your surface will stay intact. You can also eliminate the need for blocking out areas with masking fluid as these can be lightened later.


All in all, I can recommend Canson Héritage to all watercolourists out there. The paper has a crisp white colour and subtle texture that is a joy to paint on. The colours came out vibrant and the paintings had a rich, velvety look to them. The durability is excellent – I was able to lift off the most staining colours after they have dried and no matter how aggressively I was scraping the surface of the paper, there was no visible damage at the end. While we only put the paper’s lifting to a test, the creative possibilities are endless here and Canson Héritage really proves itself worthy of both Canson’s and St. Cuthberts Mill’s reputation. If you still need proof, watch this video demonstrating all the paper is capable of:

Canson Héritage watercolour paper is available in 300 gsm and 640 gms weights and in Hot Pressed, Cold Pressed and Rough surfaces in full sheets and watercolour blocks. Have a look at our full range of products at www.lawrence.co.uk, browse in our Hove shop or call us on 01273 260260 ext.1 to place your order.