Great Women of Antiquity: An exhibition of Historical art in the form of illustrative portraits by Contemporary American Illustrator Howard David Johnson, whose illustrations of Mythology and History have been published all over the world by distinguished learning institutions and publishers including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. 

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Presents: Paintings of Powerful Women of History & Legend

Realistic Paintings and Photo Realistic Drawings of legendary beautiful women  of Classical, (Greek & Roman) Egyptian and Middle Eastern Legend and History. A celebration of beautiful and powerful women of ancient history and traditional oils, Contemporary acrylics and cutting edge digital mixed media in the style of the classic illustrators. 

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Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( 1840- 1893) - "Swan Lake"

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Known throughout the ancient world, Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi was famous for her frenzied prophecies of doom and destruction. 

The Delphic Oracle was the most prestigious and authoritative oracle among the Greeks, and she was without doubt the most powerful woman of the classical world. The oracle at Delphi is a figure of great historical importance that was and still is shrouded in mystery. 

The Pythia was the name given to any priestess throughout the history of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. She spoke for the god Apollo and answered questions for the Greeks and foreign inquirers about colonization, religion, and power. 

The oracle is one of the best-documented religious institutions of the classical Greeks and continued throughout the Roman era. Extant authorities recording the oracle include Aristotle, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Clement of Alexandria, Diodorus, Diogenes, Euripides, Julian, Justin, Livy, Lucan, Nepos, Ovid, Pausanias, Pindar, Plato, Plutarch, Sophocles, Strabo, Thucydides and Xenophon.

Joan of Arc 

       Joan of Arc  (1412-1431) was a mystic who lived a very public life during the Middle Ages, her high profile political presence and her visions and voices made her one of the most controversial people of her times.

    She was condemned in spite of her unflagging faithfulness as a Christian and was burned alive at the stake on trumped up charges of being a heretic by the Roman Church, although it cannot be said that The University of Paris, one time favorite of the Popes, and the most influential educational institution since Aristotle, had nothing to do with the martyrdom of Joan of Arc.

    The Inquisition took it's earliest form around 1023 A.D. to deal with various kinds of heresies and made the Age of Faith complete.

    Persecution of maverick Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Pagans was especially relentless during these centuries.

    Dante - 'The Divine Comedy' ( 1318 A.D.) with his 'Inferno' - a terrifying vision of Hell - was the most influential writer and philosopher of the times. 

historical fiction puty charebs Joan Arc frich history

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt


    Cleopatra, ( 69-30 B.C.) descended from Ptolomey, one of Alexander the great's generals. She was heralded as the greatest of all beauties and is arguably the most legendary femme fatale in all the annals of history in competition with the beauteous Helen of Troy.

     At the age of seventeen, she became Queen of Egypt ruling jointly with her younger brother Ptolemey V by marriage, according to the ancient Egyptian custom of the Pharaohs.   

    After he betrayed her and stripped her of all power and authority, she withdrew to Syria, and prepared to recover her rights by force of arms.

    Her opportunity came when Julius Caesar followed Pompey into Egypt. The personal fascinations of Cleopatra induced Caesar to undertake a war on her behalf, in which Ptolemey lost his life.

    She regained her throne through a marriage to her younger brother whom she rid herself of with poison. She lived openly as Caesar's mistress until his assassination in Rome. Their association had been terribly unpopular, and she became aware of her unpopularity and returned to Egypt. 

      Subsequent to her legendary relationship with the legendary Roman General Cleopatra became ally and mistress to Mark Antony (Antonius ), his successor. 

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egiption queen cleopatra painting   Enter Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian ( 63 B.C.- 14 A.D.) who was the adopted son of Julius Caesar.  He declared war on the star crossed lovers and defeated them at Actium. After a secret conference, she accepted the victor's proposal that she  poison Antony, her lover, and "for Egypt" she set out to seduce this newest Roman Commander, Octavian... 


She lured Antony to a mausoleum where he committed suicide himself in the mistaken idea she had already done so. Octavian refused to yield to the charms of Cleopatra, who, according to tradition, put an end to her own life by applying an asp to her bosom.   Octavian went on to realize their unfulfilled ambitions and became Caesar Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome and founder of the Imperial Roman Government.

The Annals of Tacitus (1st Century A.D.)

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra is one of the grandest & most underrated heroines of antiquity! She come from a long line of fabulous Syrian & Abyssinian queens, including the Legendary Queen of Sheba. She adored & emulated Cleopatra & ironically met a similar fate. Assyrian records speak of mighty Arab warrior queens like Zabibi, who revolted but was finally subdued in 738 B.C. Here is Zenobia at the end of her career, betrayed by the Romans she had served faithfully all her life, her city in flames, & surrendering to the soldiers of Aurelius.

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Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, (circa 278 A.D.) born Septima Bath-shabbi, consort of Odaenathus, the Dux Orientus succeeded his throne as his widow & on behalf of her son, the lawful successor. She ruled with very capable hands and was determined to surpass his excellence and make Palmyra mistress of the Roman Empire in the east.

 She was a scholar in her own right and was instructed in the sciences by the celebrated Longinus. Besides her native tongue, she spoke the Latin, Greek, Coptic and Syrian languages. She patronized learned men and herself formed an epitome of Egyptian history. The Talmud speaks of her goodness to rabbis. She was a conqueror and commanded a fine army, protecting the Roman flank from the Persians and subduing Egypt. In spite of her loyalty and capable leadership Zenobia was betrayed when the new emperor Aurelius took the throne because of gender prejudice. 
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Zenobia then stood up to the tyranny of the Romans in the grandest heroic fashion. She led her troops into Phoenicia and Palestine, conquered the land to the borders of Egypt and defeated the world-governing Roman army. Personally leading her troops into battle on horseback was an important ingredient for Zenobia's success. A woman's presence in battle is inspiring (like a mythical goddess) common among early Arabs, in a pre-Islamic tradition; called the Lady of Victory. Her hair flowing and her body partly exposed, this Lady of Victory appealed both to valor and passion. In addition to this, the fact that every man that met her fell in love with her due to her beauty and charm makes her even more fascinating. 

Life of Aurelian, by Vopiscus in Augustae Historiae Scriptores (translated into English by Bernard in 1740)

Helen of Troy


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Helen of Troy ( circa 1194 B.C. ) was referred to as " The most beautiful woman who ever lived" and "The Face that launched a Thousand Ships".

The Trojan War resulted when Paris, the prince of Troy carried her off during the reign of her husband the Spartan King Menelaus. 

      Here Helen has just seen the sea lights of her husband's enormous amphibious  invasion fleet on the horizon heralding the beginning of the Trojan Wars. 

To recover Helen, the Acheans under Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus lay ferocious siege to Troy.

The war raged to no avail for ten years until Hector was killed by Achilles and he by in turn by Paris with a poisoned arrow in his one vulnerable spot - the classic Achilles' heel while he rode in his chariot parading Hector's corpse...



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At last a wooden horse was contrived. Odysseus had masterminded a strategy to break the stalemate... The Trojan Horse...



helen iliyad troy war trojan princess_The Trojan Horse.jpg (54811 bytes)spartain warrior picture historical art whose hollow interior many elite Achean Warriors hid themselves... Leaving Their Giant Gift outside the city and withdrawing their army and fleet to Tenedos, feigning to have raised the siege. The Trojans conveyed the wooden horse into the city.

 Later that night the Greeks stole out & opened the gates, & Troy was taken. The Spartan King Menelaus recovered Helen &  forgave her. She was thought for ages to be merely a part of mythology - partly because of lack of evidence & partly because of the portrayal of Olympian pagan religion as a reality in history's only extant account - Homer's  immortal epic poem "The Iliad" -  prejudiced the scientific & academic communities...

until archaeologists excavated Troy. Now, Helen of Troy is one of the Legends of History... 

    History? Herodotus and Thucydides, like ancient pagan writers generally, accepted the Trojan War as historical, but criticized what they politely called "epic statements" in detail. Traditional genealogies, collated by Hecataeus of Miletus and others , enabled   Eratosthenes to date the fall of Troy to 1194 B.C. This is consistent with  the Roman scholar Pliny the elder and Egyptian records from Rameses' time as well. The belief in Olympian gods and monsters was as commonplace then as our superstitions are today and some people are still prone to embellish true events with "epic statements".


The 7 Wonders; Queen Amyitis & her Hanging Gardens 

Queen Amyitis ( circa 605-562 B.C.) was the daughter of the king of the Medes. She married King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to create an alliance between the nations. The ancient city of Babylon (Iraq) ruled the world in it's day just as the Roman Empire did in hers. It boasted as it's showpiece one of the 7 wonders of the Ancient World; The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built espescially for her. Her homeland was lush & fertile, rugged & mountainous, & she found the flat, barren sun-baked terrain of Babylon depressing.  King Nebuchadnezzar decided to recreate her homeland by building an artificial mountain with rooftop gardens.

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 In any case Queen Amyitis' Hanging gardens had to be an amazing sight: A green, leafy, artificial mountain towering above the plains. Vaulted terraces raised one above another, and resting upon cube-shaped pillars. These were hollow and filled with earth to allow trees of the largest size to be planted. The pillars, the vaults, and terraces were constructed of baked brick and asphalt.

 Called "The Cradle of Civilization", the land between the Tigris & Euphrates rivers contain sites of several ancient civilizations. Ancient Babylon, (Today's  Iraq) was the birthplace of our modern courts and justice system based upon the legendary "Code of Hammurabi".

 Of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only The Great Pyramids in Egypt are still standing today.


Queen Jezebel of the Northern Kingdom


    Jezebel, (circa 842 B.C.) Queen of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was born a Phoenician princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre. In the centuries since her death, she has attracted numerous references in popular culture, none of them flattering.

   In the Books of Kings in the Hebrew Bible she dominated her husband King Ahab of Israel and led him to abandon the worship of Yahweh and promote worship of the demon gods Baal and Asherah on a national scale with ritual child sacrifices. 

  In the biblical story, Jezebel was the arch nemesis of the prophet Elijah. She brought 800 priests of Baal to Israel and ordered many prophets of the Hebrew God to be massacred and her name became associated with false prophets. 

   In some interpretations, her dressing in finery and putting on makeup led to the association of the use of cosmetics with "painted women" or prostitutes. Jezebel's name means 'Where is the Prince?', a ritual cry from worship ceremonies in honor of Baal during periods of the year when the god was considered to be in the underworld.



Queen Kriemhilde's Revenge

     The Lady Kriemhilde  (circa 453 A.D.) (A.K.A. Grimhild, Hild, Brünhild) Like the legendary Helen of Troy, was not only a mythical figure, but also a historical one as well, wife of Attila the Hun and sister of Gunther.

 She marries Attila in one reliable historical account and kills him in revenge for the death of her former husband on their wedding night. Her name means ‘armored warrior woman’ and the English word Grim derives from her name too. In her earliest legends she was originally a daemonic mythical figure representing darkness and death.

Here she is illustrated according to the 13th century Middle High German version preparing to confront her cowardly brothers with her dead husband’s shield and sword, demanding action!

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 In another version she demands revenge for her murdered father. She is depicted here as the heroine of the The Nibelungenlied, greatest epic of Teutonic Mythology.


Warrior Queen Boudica of the Celts     

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    Warrior Queens and generals like Boudica (left) gave strategic guidance, planning and performed rituals to their Celtic gods as shown here letting loose a wild hare as part of the ritual to the war god and the god of the chase. 

   Popular new myths have arisen in the 21st century portraying the ancient Celtic women leading the men into battle. This is simply not true. The truth is, Boudica running around in a mini-skirt with sword held high and charging into battle with the men following behind as seen on the History Channel recently is fantasy, and poor fantasy at that. They also ran shows saying Nebuchadnezzar was a werewolf and  appearances by GOD in the Bible like on Mount Sinai were really aliens from outer space flying down in UFOs so they  can definitely get a bit loopy at times.

   Since the last decade of the 20th century with controversy of women's new roles in politics and the military, TV shows like Xena warrior princess have had more of an impact on our cultural consciousness than events of history. Authors are omitting important details and twisting and “embellishing” historical texts like Annals of Rome by Tacitus to suit their revisionist agendas. Truth is not determined by the force with which you argue and these authors argue very forcefully but offer no facts or references to extant or verifiable history. I can argue very forcefully that men have always given birth to babies just like women but it will not make it true.

      The warrior woman has emerged in recent times in our popular culture as ferocious and deadly as the mightiest male warriors of myth and history. The weaker sex? Not in these stories! The oddest part of this fun new phenomenon in fantasy art, cartoons, novels and movies is the eagerness of certain writers to pretend they always existed and to present historical figures in this light. Generals participating in battle plans? Yes! Judges and mayors? Yes! Battlefield combatants? Almost never. I have a collectible copy of Tacitus Annals of Rome printed in the 1880’s. She rode as a passenger in a chariot before battle and her daughters were before her in the bus-wagon like seating. Because of the removal of history from schools and the influence of television the dividing line between history and myth & legend is becoming increasingly blurred. Celtic Women were more like Warrior Queen Boudica (above left) and were more like cheerleaders on those days in history when the battles were actually fought. If their man was cowardly on the battlefield, they were eyewitnesses and you can rest assured he wished he was dead when he got home.

Did The Amazons ever REALLY live?

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The legends of the Amazons have a basis in historical fact according to Herodotus, the Father of History. (book four)

He wrote thousands of years ago that the Scythian warrior women encountered by the Greeks had the characteristics of the mythical Amazons and they were an amazing tribe of people.

  The Scythians who lived in today's Southern Ukraine lost all their men in the war with Darius so they procreated with their slaves, who it was their custom to blind so they posed no political threat. These warrior women had to kill at least three men in combat before surrendering their virginity and raising children.

They wore the same armor as the men and used the same weapons. Many historians doubted Herodotus accounts but Russian archaeologists in the 19th century found graves and tombs with women buried in full armor with weapons in the region and dated to the time period to substantiate his reports.

 The Amazons were persistent in their appearances in the shadow area between myth and history. they were mentioned in the Iliad at the battle of Troy which was only until recently thought to be a myth until archaeologists proved otherwise.



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Thank You for Visiting the Women of History Art Gallery of Howard David Johnson...

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The Realistic and Fantastic Art Galleries of Contemporary American Illustrator Howard David Johnson

Click on these Fun Educational Realistic Art Gallery link icons  for Two-fisted Tales of VALOR & Frontline Combat featuring Legendary Warriors of History, Knights and ladies of Arthurian Legend, Celtic, Nordic, Asian and Olympian gods & monsters, unicorns, dragons, fairies... and more!

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Presenting many NEW illustrations for 2019!

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All these pieces of art and the text are legally copyrighted and were registered with the U.S. Library of Congress Office of Copyright by the author, Howard David Johnson All rights reserved worldwide. Permission for many academic or non-commercial uses is freely and legally available by simply contacting the author via e-mail or visiting

Celebrating  20- plus Years on the World Wide Web 1996- Today!

With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels & colored pencils, Howard David Johnson embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his depictions of fantasy, folklore, mythology, legend, religion, and heroic history. He works in  a wide variety of media * Oil paintings * Acrylic Paintings * Prismacolor Paintings * Drawings * Chalk & Oil Pastel Paintings * Photography * 2D &3D Digital Artistry & Mixed Media *  


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Who is American Illustrator Howard David Johnson?

In one of David's invitations to the Florence Biennale Contemporary Art Exhibition, (a partner in the United Nations' Dialog among Nations), UN Secretary General Kofi Anon wrote him: "Artists have a special role to play in the global struggle for peace. At their best, artists speak not only to people; they speak for them. Art is a weapon against ignorance and hatred and an agent of public awareness... Art opens new doors for learning, understanding, and peace among nations."

      Howard David Johnson is a contemporary realistic artist and photographer with a background in the natural sciences and history.  David works in a wide variety of mixed media ranging from oil on canvas to digital media. David's realistic illustrations have made appearances in every major bookstore and game shop chain in America as well as magazines and educational texts around the world. 

   Some of David's more prestigious clients have included the University of Texas, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England, The Australian Mint, The National Geographic Society, Paramount Studios, Universal Studios, MGM Studios, Warner Brothers Home Video, ABC/Disney, CBS TV, PBS TV, The History Channel, Enslow Educational Publishers, Adobe Photoshop, Auto FX, Tree-Free Greeting, Verizon wireless, Apple IPOD, Penguin, Doubleday (Now Random House), Harlequin Top Historical Romances, and the History Book of the Month Club, as well as appearing in periodical publications like Popular Photography and the Wall Street Journal.   


A Traditional style portrait of the artist. [Photo by his son Erich.]

   After a lifetime of drawing and painting, David's Traditional Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London in 1996, ( 3 years before he got his first computer ) as well as numerous American ones since, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 


    Working in a variety of media David offers his customers a variety of options and more than three decades of experience. As an illustrator he has not only used the computer but has been involved in the development and marketing of software for Adobe Photoshop. Digital art, Colored pencils, Pastels, Mixed media, & also Oil Paintings can also be commissioned for select projects.Digital illustration projects start at $500.U.S. and group rates are available. David delivers custom made copyright free illustrations & old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire. To publish existing pieces of his realistic art, David sells licenses starting at only $99.USD.




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"Those who are enamoured of practice without science are like a pilot who goes into a ship without rudder or compass and never has any certainty where he is going. Practice should always be based upon a sound knowledge of theory, of which perspective is the guide and gateway, and without it nothing can be done well in any kind of painting."

Howard David Johnson is a contemporary visual artist and photographer with a background in
the natural sciences and history. He works in a wide variety of media ranging from traditional
oils,  pastels and others to cutting edge digital media. He loves mixing media. This site features
examples of his Realistic Art, including illustration, photography, experimentalism, and fine art.

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     The various galleries linked to by the icons above show many examples of His Realistic Art, and are grouped by theme rather than media. There are also sample illustrations from his  upcoming books on Celtic Myth and Legend and World Myth & Legend. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters. To create his work, he usually starts with a thematic concept  followed by a rough realistic pencil sketch, then followed by his photography, often traveling to find suitable scenes and locations and then working in his Photography studio with live models from his sketches. He then assembles a variety of elements which are realistic and original. As a boy he dedicated his life to art in 1960. From 1965- 1999 he used xeroxes and tracings to make his preliminary photo montages. This is patterned after  the manner used by Maxfield Parrish and other 19th century notables. Beginning with a tracing, he then draws or paints from these complex original Computer Photo Montages. Many of these are on display on this web and slated for future completion in a variety of realistic traditional art media. As this happens, the finished work is substituted in the exhibit. Recently he shot hundreds of aerial photos of clouds at marvelous angles and perspectives and also looking down on the mighty mountains, rivers, and deserts of the American west while flying from Texas to Oregon and back for dynamic source material for realistic flying scenes in upcoming paintings , drawings, and pictures. 

His favourite medium for realistic art is colored pencil because of the high speed and low expense, and people began expressing difficulty in telling his colored pencil drawing from photographs in the early 1980's.  In the last 35 plus years he has also mastered Oils, Pastels, Acrylics, Watercolors, Inks, Scratchboard, Gouache, Photography, and the highly controversial digital media ( Art Numérica ) . As a commercial illustrator Johnson has not only used the computer to create art but has been involved in the development of computer imaging software. Working in a realistic style inspired by classic illustrators HDJ is deeply rooted and grounded in the Greco-Roman artistic tradition, Feeling that with realistic art, the human form is the ultimate arena for artistic expression. His lifelong dream came true when his Traditional Realistic Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London England in 1996. His mixed media has also been displayed in numerous other ones since such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Having achieved international acclaim as a traditional visual artist he discovered digital media ( Art Numérica ) in 1999. Because of his passion for realistic art and photography he elected to embrace it and joyfully be a part of this historic era in the visual arts as a 21st century realistic visual artist. `fig.0003-3a.jpg (47139 bytes)

     Since 1972 when he began his career as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas he has earned his living illustrating all kinds of books, magazines, CD covers, and all sorts of games, greeting cards, calendars, portraits, murals and the like with his contemporary realistic art... HDJ's Realistic Art has appeared in every major bookstore chain and fantasy gaming shop in The United States and has been used in educational texts and magazines all over the world. This site features realistic paintings & pictures for the twenty-first Century including some oil paintings, as well as lots of other exciting media such as colored pencil drawings, pastel paintings, acrylic paintings, gouache paintings, watercolor paintings, and pencil drawings, and also featuring studio,  field, & aerial photography,  digital painting and photo-montage and all these media mixed in an assortment of experimental combinations...Working in a wide variety of media to create his realistic art he offers his customers a host of payment and product options. He delivers the rights to these custom made copyright free illustrations and old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire. He loves to paint custom oil paintings and accepts commissions with down payments starting at one thousand dollars. On his existing works his low cost license offers start at only 100 dollars.


All  paintings, pictures, & text  (c) 1993- 2014 Howard David Johnson All rights reserved

Thank You for Visiting the Women of Mythology art page...


Bonus Section:

Personal Opinion Essays on Realistic Art yesterday and today by the artist.

In addition to his mastery of traditional media, Howard David Johnson now combines drawing, painting, photography, and digital media with more than thirty years of experience in these fields to create his Realistic Art Numérica in 21st century paintings and pictures.

Did you know the Greek word "Photography" means "Painting with Light"? Today with the advent of computers it truly lives up to it's name. Due to developments in Art and Technology, a broader definition of painting is needed than that which is found in common usage.

Announcing Art Numérica -an exciting merger of traditional visual art and cutting edge technology... a new art form for the twenty- first century... Art Numérica is not limited to realistic art but also offers limitless horizons for everything from cartoons to abstractions.

It is the most dramatic development in the visual arts since the Renaissance. In the words of Al Jolson in the movie world's first talking picture" You ain't seen nothin' yet!"


(A Brief essay dealing with attitudes toward Traditional Realistic Paintings, Pastels, Colored Pencils and Art Numérique )

"Painting, in art, the action of laying colour on a surface, or the representation of objects by this means. Considered one of the fine arts"

~Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

"Painting. noun. 1.) The act or employment of laying on colors or paints. 2.) The art of forming figures or objects in colors on canvas or any other surface, or the art of representing to the eye by means of figures and colors any object; the work of an illustrator or painter. 3.) A picture; a likeness or resemblance in shape or colors. 4.) Colors laid on. 5.) Delineation that raises a vivid image in the mind; as in word painting.

~ Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language

~Dierdre of the Sorrows copy.jpg (49196 bytes)

Pastel, Acrylics, and Colored Pencils combined

     Snobbism in the arts is nothing new. Some people will tell you that oils are the only valid medium for realistic paintings. That Colored Pencil, Digital, and other Realistic Painting and Drawing Media are not valid  for "real" art. Young artists, Don't let them bother you. Their forerunners used to condemn Pastels before they gained acceptance and called them "crayons" when Johann Alexander Thiele (1685-1752) invented them.  Mercilessly disrespectful  art critics of the time could not stop the Experimentalists no matter how viciously they attacked and derided them. "Crayon-painting" as it was called in England was practiced early on by persecuted pioneers in Switzerland and many other nations. What a debt we owe to these master artists who refused to knuckle under to the pressure of those short-sighted critics during those historic and experimental times. It took until 1870 with the founding of the "Societe` Des Pastellistes" in France that respect came  at last to these heroic & immortal visual artists.

        In England the liberation of the Pastellists from slight regard and undeserved disrespect came with the first exhibition of "The Pastel Society" at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1880. Pastel Painters like Mary Cassat and others from America and other nations forever silenced  the snobs with their masterworks and gained recognition at long last for Thiele's invention as a valid art medium. I am persuaded that history will repeat itself.  Like Pastels, I believe these wonderful new colored pencils and even Digital Realistic Art Media will one day receive the recognition they deserve as powerful mediums of artistic expression just as pastel paintings did. What is your definition of art? Have you thought about it?

Mine is: "anything that makes you feel or think."

     Consider dancing... it can be a little skip in the step or rise to the level of the incomparable Russian Ballet. Did you know that just the materials alone for a single oil painting cost up to a thousand dollars these days? Even paying the artist less than minimum wage no one but the super rich can afford them anymore. Something's got to give. Realistic paintings in oil have been highly prized for centuries and the appeal and following of realistic art is undiminished to this day. Oil paintings featuring Abstract Art and Realistic Art are generally the most treasured form of all the visual art media and with good reason. But snobbish art critics  favoring abstract art have declared  that realistic paintings, or illustrations are not art for a century. With so many representationalist  paintings by so many immortal master artists hanging in the Louvre, the Hermitage, and the British Museum and others I think the disrespect for realistic illustrators that dominated the 20th century is academically ridiculous as well as vain and intolerant, insisting theirs is the only valid opinion. What is your definition of Art? I believe almost any form of human expression can be raised to the level of "high art" especially  visual art and Realistic illustration...

~Dierdre of the Sorrows detail.jpg (59016 bytes)

The detail reveals Realistic art and abstract art combined

       By my own definition of art, which is: "anything that makes you feel or think" most abstract paintings are not "real art" to me personally, because abstract paintings usually neither make me feel or think,  usually focusing obsessively on technique and avoiding any coherent content. I usually draw a complete blank mentally and emotionally when I look at them. In 1979 the Houston Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed a triptych of 3 giant   paintings they paid fifty thousand dollars for-  three blank white canvasses entitled "untitled". Then there was "The incredible new artistic Genius "with an I.Q. of 62 ...Congo the chimpanzee with his gala New York art elaborate prank played on the Snobbish American Art critics about a generation ago by research scientists in the field of primatology. Imagine how upset they were when he created one of his "ingenious masterpieces" right before their eyes.

( My Source for this is the Time Life Science Library volume entitled "The Primates". )

      Art education has been almost completely removed from American Schools as a result of generations of this kind of  fabulous nonsense contributing to America's cultural illiteracy crisis. Now, the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and other notables are being removed from school libraries.  After generations of this, most American college graduates today cannot name even one living visual artist, abstract or realistic.

There is no way that mandating more math, requiring more reading, or scheduling more science will replace what we have lost as a culture.    

What is your definition of Art?



Note: Abstract Paintings by Congo the Chimpanzee outsold Warhol and Renoir by over 25,000 dollars in June 2005 at a London art auction. Born in 1954, Congo created more than 400 drawings and paintings between the ages of two and four. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis. There is no precedent for this kind of sale.

The Rebirth of Realism

More thoughts on realistic art yesterday and today by the artist

Art History has entered a new era with the birth of Art Numérica, or digital art media in the 21st century. Artists never stop exploring with mediums. Artists have been developing techniques, experimenting with different tools since at least twenty- five thousand years ago, when the first artist picked up a charred stick and scratched a picture out on the wall of his cave. You'd think everything would have been tried by now, but it hasn't. Exploring new mediums this very day is just as exciting, just as full of freshness and newness as it ever was.

The creation of Realistic art has been the goal of most artists since the dawn of  civilization. Realistic art was the pride of ancient Greece. The world's greatest museums are full of realistic art. Realistic art WAS art until the advent of the abstract expressionist movement in the twentieth century. The coming of the camera in the nineteenth century changed realistic art forever. Suddenly, realistic art was not the only way to create realism in portraits and historical records. The work of the realistic artist was suddenly made into an expensive luxury. The political power of the realistic artist was broken and they were no longer an indispensable member of society. Hostility to the creators of realistic art goes back to ancient times and the jealousy of advisers to the Pharaohs and others who were not able to spend as much time with their rulers as their portraitists.    Although with the aid of photographs, realistic art achieved levels of excellence undreamed of, the realistic art movement of the late nineteenth century was short.

     None of these people earning their living creating realistic art could compete with the speed and low cost of photographic portraiture.  Determined to survive, great realistic artists like Pablo Picasso ingeniously turned inward and began to explore things that could not be photographed in a new school of art, abstract expressionism. The day of the fine art superstars had arrived. It was now largely just a hobby to abstract and realistic artists alike. Illustration, because of advances in printing technology enabled an elite few to earn a living with their realistic art. These illustrators working in realistic art media  were condemned and ridiculed in much the same way Europe's great symphonic composers were condemned for working in motion pictures after fleeing the nazis during World War Two. The rift between realistic and abstract art grew wider and wider. The universities and key media usually sided with the abstract camp and derided anyone working in any realistic art media declaring boldly that realistic art was not "real" art.


Photography, Drawing, Painting and Art Numérica combined

          Immortal giants of realistic art such as Maxfield Parrish were mistreated their entire lives. They were accused of selling out for creating beautiful pieces of realistic fine art to earn a living. The attitude that the true artist must suffer and starve and die in poverty became a rule. There were the Abstract art superstars, the professional realistic illustrators, and the hobbyists who, although cut off from gainful employment and social influence still recognized their artistic gifts as a calling rather than a profession. Early abstract art  masters proved themselves as realistic artists before delving into realms of the intangible. They had to do this at that time to prove themselves because of the challenges they faced from the establishment for going against the status quo. In the latter part of the 20th century, realistic artists like HDJ were challenged to do abstract art to prove themselves as shown in the example above (Deirdre of the sorrows). Later realistic art training was abandoned in most schools and things like splattering paint in fits of rage  were deemed more than enough. By the end of the 20th century something as destructive and ridiculous as nailing a pack of cigarettes to a shoe was considered fine art but not realistic paintings. Fashions in art have often been as silly as fashions in ladies hats.  As the century drew to a close, many people had had enough. The realistic revolt was at hand. The rebirth of realism was fueled by the advent of the digital era. Now, for the first time in almost two centuries, an artist or illustrator could earn a decent living again with his realistic art. This is historic. Realistic art is not going to go away, especially now that photography has truly merged with traditional realistic visual art. Photography comes from the Greek words meaning "painting with light". Now with the advent of digital media the capability of realistic art has become almost limitless, truly, "painting with light". The merger of all the world's art forms to realize the potential of motion pictures has come now to still realistic art media. This website for example, combines music, prose, poetry, photography and traditional realistic art media to create an experience beyond merely looking at realistic paintings.

         The twenty- first century is already seeing a new renaissance in the arts because of the world wide web. There has never been anything like it. Abstract art, computer art, photographic art, and realistic art are continuing to be separate schools of art but are also blending to create exciting new horizons. Although Digital art does offer completely new horizons to the artist in the 21st century it does not mean the end of our time honored art traditions. Instead, it offers additional ways to keep these traditions and schools of thought  fresh and alive.



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       Helen of Troy' MMIV was rendered entirely in Prismacolor Colored Pencils... 'Prismacolor Paintings'  if you will - because this kind of picture is not at all what comes to mind when people hear the word 'drawing'. These relatively new soft oil based colored pencils are not the first Dry Painting Medium: the term 'Pastel Paintings' originated in the 17th century. The Prismacolors were also liquifed with solvents and applied with brush in certain areas.

HELEN of TROY (pencil).jpg (179901 bytes)

Thank You for Visiting the Women of History Art Gallery of Howard David Johnson...