Home    Artist/Instructor Debbie Ottman-Smith

Welcome to my studio ...designed for your enjoyment in perusing, aquiring or learning how to create on your own.
Allow me to bring your idea or memento to life, click on Commission Me. 

For details on private or group lessons and upcoming workshops go to the Kingston School of Art www.ksoa.info 

New Artists: Go to, For Students page to find helpful hints.


“The Magic Mirror”          
written by Gretchen Huntly 
illustrated by Debbie Ottman-Smith  

Available for purchase online or at Novel Idea, this small $5.00 soft covered book is an excellent option for use as a personalized condolence card. [the final page is blank for your own heartfelt words]

While this project was originally designed for children, adults will take comfort from it as well! 

A labour of love, this book was created to help people who have experienced great loss. To order a few or for more information go to the author’s website gretchenhuntley.ca  ...View all 9 pages below.

For Students interested in portraiture or illustrating, I've written a message beside eage page's image explaining how it was done. 

Page 1

I used my daughter and her Dad who had just passed away at the same time I was hired to do this job. The experience was extremely cathartic.


Page 2

Some of the images I had photo references to work from, like this one here of my daughter. I just added the tears and changed the outfit; however (like page 1 and a few others) of her father, Peter Doogan, I had to work from my memory. To capture realism, it is always a good idea to have a reference!


Page 3

Each of these faces had its own photographic reference.
The mirror and background [styalized clouds] came from my imagination.
The detail on the top of the mirror was designed for future reference, literally; page 8 takes place in the future, the mirror is instantly recognizable because of the jeweled detail on the top of it. 


Page 4

For references here, I was forced to take photos and rework them to make my daughter younger and her boyfriend into her Dad, the mirror was a pizza pan and the reflection from my memory of Peter. 


Page 5

I used my own hands as a reference here, but I had a wonderful shot of my daughter which I used for her expression. 


Page 6

For many of these images I was inspired by Norman Rockwell, my favourite illustrator/artist of all time! This is my tribute to him.
The design of the bedroom was drawn from memory, it was my daughter's room as a child; the walking doll was mine, given to me when I was age 5. 
I used Norman Rockwell images as inspiration for pages 1 and 9.


Page 7

This page gave us a lot of trouble, [the author and I] we agreed on everything except this one! In the end she was quite happy with it but I've never been satisfied, mainly because I didn't have a reference photo to use;
it is very difficult to draw from memory!
For the mom I found an image in a magazine ad.


Page 8

I used my own shelves in my closet to create the composition here.
Artistic license was taken but most of it is my 'stuff'.
Notice the detail on top of the mirror.


Page 9

The Mom looking out the window came from a Rockwell; the boy and dog in the yard came from a newspaper photo of myself and my dog Blue (I found a stock image online of a boy in that pose, I only had to adjust the arm holding the stick). The photo on the table [bottom right] is that of the author's son, John, who passed away Mother's Day weekend 2015 and who was her inspiration for this book (written for her grandchildren).

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