Amber Ma: Bring Life into Your Art – Watercolor Illustration, Wet into Wet on Hot-Press Watercolor Paper


I like this quote, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. This is one reason I chose DANIEL SMITH, because they have the most unique and natural granulation which reminds me of ash and dust. And I believe this unique granulation makes artwork more vivid.

I’m an illustrator. Most of my inspiration to paint and draw come from my imagination, daily life or some thoughts from novels and movies.

Normally I choose to paint on Hot-press watercolor paper (natural white is the best). I like a smoother surface and it will help for painting detail.

“Warming up!” watercolor painting by Amber Ma

“Warming up!” by Amber Ma

“Warming Up” is a quick warm up sketch before I do a big project.
In this small painting, I used Undersea Green, Green Apatite GenuineMayan Blue Genuine and Anthraquinoid Scarlet.

DANIEL SMITH Watercolors: Undersea Green, Green Apatite Genuine, Mayan Blue Genuine, Anthraquinoid Scarlet

One thing always surprises me when painting wet into wet, is when granulating pigments flow into water, you can see the texture they leave on the paper. When two or more granulating colors are added together, wet into wet, they gradually combine into new colors with unique characteristics which reminds me of the dust found in nature.


Locked, watercolor painting by Amber Ma

“Locked” by Amber Ma

I used Green Apatite Genuine, Undersea Green, Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Lunar Blue and Shadow Violet in this painting.
Amber Ma, DANIEL SMITH Watercolors Green Apatite Genuine, Undersea Green, Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Lunar Blue, Shadow Violet

Green Apatite Genuine and Shadow Violet are my favorite pigments. Green Apatite Genuine can make a beautiful range of greens. From fresh grass green to deep olive green. And, after the color dries, you will see that there is some brown texture left on the top, which looks like ash or pollen which are naturally found in a forest.

Nap, watercolor painting by Amber Ma

“Nap” by Amber Ma

As you see, the two women’s heads are made by Shadow Violet, which is a deep warm violet in mass tone, it reveals a slight orange glow in thin application.

I took a time-lapse video to record my whole painting process for “Sleeping in the Spring”.
Color list: Undersea Green, Green Apatite Genuine, Rare Green Earth, Mayan Blue Genuine, Anthraquinoid Scarlet and Shadow Violet.

DANIEL SMITH Watercolors Undersea Green, Green Apatite Genuine, Rare Green Earth
DANIEL SMITH Watercolors Mayan Blue Genuine, Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Shadow Violet

My quick process for painting wet into wet:

Image 1, Amber Ma

1. Use color pencil to draw a simple shape which you want to paint

Image 2, Amber Ma

2. Fill water into the area you want to paint first.

Image 2, Amber Ma

3. Normally I start painting the darker side first. Let pigment flow with the water, you don’t need to control them.

Image 4, Amber Ma

4. Add a second layer of watercolor to the darker side. Remember to keep the painting wet.

Image 5, Amber Ma

5. Use brush strokes to make plants and leaves.

Image 6, Final, Amber Ma

6. Competed sketch

-Amber Ma

Amber MaAmber Ma is a New York-based artist and illustrator, and she is originally from China.

She has been attracted to creating art and storytelling. She has a strong passion for drawing, which led her to pursue a MFA in illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts, NY.
Amber is deeply interested in creating monsters and fantasy creatures, who she believes share the world with us while hiding in secret places.
Instagram: @AmberWonderland

List of DANIEL SMITH paints on my palette:

  • Undersea Green
  • Green Apatite Genuine
  • Rare Green Earth
  • Mayan Blue Genuine
  • Lunar Blue
  • Anthraquinoid Scarlet
  • Garnet Genuine
  • Quinacridone Gold
  • Shadow Violet
  • Moonglow
Amber Ma working on a painting

Amber Ma working on a large scale watercolor painting