More Throwback Practice Art

A couple months ago, I did some sketches that took their inspiration from the many “historical photo” Twitter accounts out there. One was a not-very-accurate Jimi Hendrix, and the other was a solid drawing of Ann Margret from Viva Las Vegas. It was a fun exercise to gain some drawing inspiration.

Since then, I’ve read some well-deserved criticism of this type of photo spamming account; although they share interesting material, most rarely credit the originator of the image. The lack of sourcing issue is compounded by the fact they also sometimes assert incorrect information about the image. Examples are many (laid out by a historian in Time Magazine), but one involved History Lovers Club sharing “a real conversation between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair,” which was actually a joke written by a comedian.

Although I agree with the criticisms, I have to admit I do still sometimes looks at these feeds. I know they aren’t good for obtaining context or factual information, but they share some cool images. As I’ve mentioned in many other posts, I sometimes struggle to figure out new things to draw. I am not a very creative artist – although I actually think I have a good imagination, which is a weird dichotomy. Anyway, sometimes I just want to get some practice, and I’m hamstrung by my boring mind-to-pencil connection.

This weekend was one of those times! I was inspired on Friday to draw new Dallas Maverick Luka Doncic, which surprisingly got some decent traction on social media (Twitter, more Twitter, and Reddit). Well, not viral or anything…just decent traction for something from me. I was all fired up and ready to draw more, but had no clue what to do. So, I had to lean on the ol’ “historical photo” crutch to find some practice. After digging around, I decided to give a somewhat famous image of Grace Kelly a try.

Here’s how the final drawing turned out:

I honestly don’t know too terribly much about Grace Kelly. I knew she was a pretty famous actress, and thought I remembered her becoming a literal princess at some point. After Googling to jog my memory, I was on the right track. She was quite a successful actress, appearing in three Hitchcock movies and starring in other movies alongside folks like Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra, and Cary Grant. I was surprised to see she quit acting at a fairly early age, becoming the Princess of Monaco at age 26.

As for my drawing, I think this one turned out pretty well. I honestly don’t see much that I would improve if I did this over again. In the original photograph, in my opinion there was a wry, barely-there sarcastic look…unfortunately, I did not quite capture it. That subtle look didn’t translate over into my drawing. But, other than that, I think I captured her features well enough.

As I usual, I did make a progression .gif. Here’s how this one came together:

Amdall Grace Kelly Progression

As I said above, the criticisms of image spamming “historical photo” accounts on Twitter are definitely fair. And I could see how a real historian might think I’m part of the problem, because I give them clicks and attention. But, they really are an interesting source of photos for an amateur artist in need of practice. Something tells me this isn’t the last time I’ll gain inspiration from accounts like this.

Note: History Lovers Club (@historylvrsclub) on Twitter is where I first saw the photograph of Grace Kelly that inspired this drawing. The photo is obviously old, but the best original source I can find is a book called Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl by Manoah Bowman and Jay Jorgensen. The photographer was named Ed Vebell, and it was taken in 1949.


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  • Great drawing!

  • The picture did turn out great – and yes, it’s a good practice to link back to the original photo or give a credit to the photographer (if that person is known). Copyright issues can be tricky – some people are specific about what kind of copyright they’re publishing under (i.e., share and use, but always give credit) and others don’t say anything, and then it’s hard to know.

    • I’m glad you commented, because it made me realize I needed to beef up the source description here. Just citing History Lovers Club really wasn’t enough, as they certainly weren’t the original source. Actually, that’s sort of funny and ironic, because the entire post is about “historical photo” spammers who don’t provide sources, and here I am providing incomplete sourcing!

      I did some digging, and found a book the photo appeared in, and the name of the original photographer. Drawing scenes from movies is easy to source, but this was a bit trickier. Anyway – thank you, As Much Cake saves the day

      • Ha! Not al all! I’ve completely ignored copyright issues on my own site. I do notice that a fair number of bloggers use the copyright symbol, or describe the terms of copyright and use of their work. I guess that’s a good practice and I should probably figure something out for my site. Thanks for bringing the topic up in your post!

      • I guess that’s sort of an internal conflict for artists who share on their own websites. A large part of you just wants to draw/paint/etc., but then that website operator in you has to say, “whoa slow down, you’ve got administrative stuff to do”

        I’m not sure if this helps you at all, but I have this little statement at the bottom of my site:

        All art featured on Amdall Gallery was made by Jon Amdall. Analysis in research articles was conducted by Jon, usually facilitated by Excel spreadsheets. Anything created with help from other sources is cited within the relevant post. Please do not use or distribute materials from this site without attribution to the author. Thanks for visiting!

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