Realistic Art: Classical & Fantastic Realism in Paintings & Pictures in a style inspired by the classic illustrators: Cultural Art Galleries illustrating Mythology, Legends, Heroic History, World Religions & Natural Beauty... with lots of Fairy Tales &  Fantasy Art for the fun-loving & young at heart. Traditional painting meets 21st Century digital media ~ exploring our cultural & spiritual heritages & pioneering new vistas for Art & Technology through visual art, essay, & word paintings. Newly Updated for 2024!

fine art historical painting fantasy illistrations


howard david johnson logo graphic with paintings of king arthur 

Japanese Francais  * Deutsch  * Greek Italiano Espanol Chinese 



The Realistic and Fantastic Art Galleries of Contemporary American Illustrator Howard David Johnson whose works have been published all over the world by distinguished publishers and learning institutions including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

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"Faerie Guardians"  

(2006 oil on 20 x 16 canvas)

T.jpg (8433 bytes) his is my world. This is the world I love. It is a world without limits. My world is what I choose to make it.

 My world is yesterday... or today... or tomorrow. My world is a world of dreams and realities. 

It is a world of Caesars and Christs... of monuments rising from dim memories of the past. It is an angry sailing ship tossed about on a sea of adversity. 

It is a world of knights and ladies, of gods & monsters, of faerie princesses, femme fatales, and mythic creatures.

      It is a world of beauty & virtue & nobility. 

It is a world with no boundaries save the limits of my imagination & my conscience. 

This is my world. 

Conceived in my mind & placed upon canvas with brush and paint & study & sweat & tears & a great deal of love for my world.

My world is the world of the illustrator. 

I created this world for you, and for your children, and for your children's, children's, children... 

greek goddesses painting legendary 

"Athene, goddess of Wisdom and Justice" 

 (2008 oil on 20 x 16 canvas)


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 ~ Dedicated to my parents Howard and Louise


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


Newest additions include Angel Art, Women Warriors, Celtic Mythology and Legends of Cú Chulainn!


Click on these Art Gallery 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 mythology~ Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Portraits and more! 

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Angel Art King Arthur Norse Mythology Greek Mythology Legends of History Cú Chulainn Celtic Mythology Fantasy Art Classic Fairy Tales Russian Mythology Oriental Mythology Fairy Paintings
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Religions of the World Mermaid Art 

Dinosaur Art

Science Fiction Art Pencil Portraits I Studio Photography Colored Pencils II

Art Instruction

Lady of Shallot  Lost Atlantis ELVES History of Dragons
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 Mythic Women Mythic Creatures Egyptian Mythology
History Part Two
 The Art of War 
About Realistic Art  Fantasy Pin ups Flower Fairies Beautiful Women Warrior Women Legendary Women   Pre-Raphaelite Art
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Catholic Art  Art of the Bible BOOK of REVELATION Jewish Art Spartan Warriors Vampires and Werewolves Space Opera Adventures Lost World Adventures Style & Technique Paintings in Oils Realistic Paintings Biographical

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


On the World Wide Web since 1996 ~

  The Legends of History (below right)- Educational multi-media art galleries exploring the Myths & Legends  of the ancient world & War & Civilization; The Outline of History through realistic art, prose, & essay... An introduction to legendary Spartan Warriors ( below left) and legendary women (below center)


greek warrior paintngs spartans 300    cleopatra egiption queen fine art    roman painting solders historical art     myth legend oil painting beutiful women


Mystery, Babylon, the Great -The  Deesse et chimere Icon (below 2nd from left) Links to a Symbolist art gallery featuring an astonishing disclosure about the Beast (Chimera) from the book of Revelation and more Apocalyptic Prophecies or  Daniel in the lion's Den for our newly updated Angel Art Gallery... and The Antiquities of the Hebrews Gallery ~ Featuring the Adventures of The Prophets... 


 biblical art legends of history bible painting      demon daemon art biblical painting     biblical art angel painting lengends of jerusilum   


 Click on The World's Great Religions (Kwan Yin icon below right)- An educational multi-media art gallery embracing religious tolerance and exploring the world's great religions and their impact on war and civilization through realistic art, prose, and essay...




Women Warriors of World History-  "The Trung Sisters of Viet Nam" [above far left], Warrior Women of World Mythology  "Scáthach ~ Teacher of fighters"[center left], Legendary Queens: "Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra"and The World's Great Religions "Kwan Yin" Click on the images above to see the galleries, [ ca. 2001 - 2023 All in Mixed Media [Oil Paints and Digital 2D & 3D]

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Classical Mythology; Greek & Roman Myths: Click on the images above for portraits & introductions to the legendary gods of Olympus, The Titans, The Greek Heroes, as well as realistic illustrations of Homer's The Iliad & the Odyssey, Helen of Troy & The Trojan Horse, Jason & the Argonauts & more.



 FROM CELTIC MYTHOLOGY: "The life & Adventures of Cu Chulainn " , Click the image above to see dozens of illustrations from the Irish Epic "Tain bo Culailnge" aka The Cattle Raid of Cooley ca. 2019 - 2023 All in Mixed Media [ Oil Paints and Digital 2D & 3D]


 weird science fiction and fantasy artwork tentacle alien space girl       Fairy Queen FAND and the Sea Dragon celtic irish dragn art painting realistic     strange worlds of science fiction space explorers


SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY ART GALLERIES: Click on the images "Encounter on Enceladus, "Fairy Queen FAND & the Sea Dragon" & "Strange Worlds" to see the collections ~ All created in Mixed Media [ Oil Paints & Digital 2D & 3D] ca. 2016-2021]




Examples of Contemporary HISTORY PAINTING ~ "The Seige of the Alamo", "President Abraham Lincoln" & "The Old Breed: 1st Marines Assault on Pelilieu Beach"  2016-2017 All in Mixed Media including Oil Paints & Digital 2D & 3D

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.     


howard david johnson portrate picture

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.

~ Grace Solomon


Keep Scrolling Down for More on our Business and Retail Services and Essays and Articles on Style & Technique  


You can e-mail for more details at:

Your business, letters and links are always welcome!






Dozens of Johnson's 38 x 28 Oil Paintings on linen canvas are currently available for sale. Many digital works can also be rendered in oil on canvas. Each design will only be rendered in oil once at this size and can be delivered FEDEX or equivalent in as little as 60-90 days. 

Every original comes with a signed dated Certificate of Authenticity. 

Write for current availability and pricing:



David can also do a completely new picture designed in digital media (for more on this visit his digital media page) and when we approve the photo-montage, he uses it as reference to render it in oil on canvas. No surprises.  Existing Artwork is shipped very well protected and go out to you immediately via Fed Ex or USPS Express mail upon receipt of payment at our expense. All new creations cost a bit more depending on what is involved. All new creations and rendering photo montages into art on paper are a LOT of fun with e-mail attachments and digital cameras.  

fairy grove mixed media paintinglegendary women of history painting fineartfairy feary painting fine art mussroom pictureoil version  fairy grove 20x16


People have written asking me to tell them how to tell my digital and mixed media from my Prismacolors or oils. The very fact it is so hard to tell is my point! This new media looks very presentable and costs far less! ALL HALLOWS EVE was begun as a digital montage .This is your guide: above far right is the digital composition... As you're browsing my galleries and can't spot the difference I won't tell you... that would spoil the fun! Is it worth tens of thousands to you to be old fashioned?

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oil paointing all hallows eve october painting

Mixed Media including digital   

Prismacolors on paper 

   Oil Painting on Canvas   

ALL HALLOWS EVE was rendered in oil on 20x16 canvas in 2010 (right) and features Titania in this illustration from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Even when displayed at the same size the oil on canvas is clearly a superior illustration to the 2006 Prismacolor Painting on paper. (left). Considering many oil painters charge $60,000.00 USD and up these $5,000.00 USD and up prices seem very low to me...

Original oil paintings are for sale, e-mail for info... 


This Art Gallery has been honored by more than 40 million Unique Visitors 

from the Four Corners of the Earth

My Friends from around the world thus far :

Iceland,  Finland,  Norway,  Netherlands,  Switzerland,  Liechtenstein,  Sweden, England,   Canada,   Scotland,   Wales,   Ireland,   Germany,   France,   Monaco,   Andorra,   Italy,   The Vatican City State,  Greece,  Macedonia,  Cyprus,  Turkey,    Latvia,  Estonia, Hungary,  Bulgaria,  Lithuania,  Poland,  Austria,  Romania,  Spain,  The Russian Federation,   Estonia,   Ukraine,   Kazakhstan, Moldova,  Malta,    Portugal,  Albania, Armenia, Georgia,  Slovak Republic,   Azerbaijan,  Belarus,  

Tarzan art Edgar Rice Burroughs by Howard David Johnson

"The Beasts of Tarzan" ~ 2018


    Viet Nam, Japan,  South Korea,  China,  Hong Kong,  Macau,  Mongolia,  Kazakhstan,  Gibraltar,  Israel,  Palestinian Territories,   Egypt,   Libya,  Mali, Algeria,  Niger,  Saudi Arabia,  Oman,   The United Arab Emirates,  Kuwait,  Bahrain,  Qatar,  Yemen,  Iraq,  Iran,  Jordan, Syria,   Lebanon,   Morocco,   Ethiopia,   Eritrea,   Liberia,   The Republic of Congo,   Rwanda,   Kenya,  Angola,  Ghana, The Ivory Coast,   Zambia,   Zimbabwe,   Sudan,  Nigeria,  Namibia,  Sudan,  Uganda,   Kenya,  Eritrea,  Tanzania,  Botswana, Malawi,  Senegal,  

Bermuda,  Cuba,  Jamaica,  Dominica,  Haiti,  Puerto Rico,  Central African Republic Belgium,  Denmark,  The Faroe Islands,  Greenland,  Yugoslavia, Macedonia,  Croatia,  The Czech Republic,  Bosnia,  Herzegovina,  Slovakia,  Slovenia,  Luxembourg, Lesotho,  South Africa,  Seychelles,    Mauritius,  Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia,  Laos,    Myanmar,  Macau,  Malaysia,  Taiwan,  Nuie,  New Zealand,  Fiji,  New Caledonia,  Vanuatu,  American Samoa,  Cook Islands,   Australia,  Micronesia,  Polynesia,  Papua New Guinea,  The Heard and McDonald Islands,  The Philippines, Guam,  Palau,  Cocos Island,   Djibouti,  Cameroon,  Chad,  Gambia,  Mozambique,  Swaziland,  The Kingdom of Tonga,  Malaysia,   Brunei Darussalam,  India,   Pakistan,   Afghanistan, Bhutan,  Bangladesh,  Sri Lanka,  Chagos Islands,  The Republic of Maldives,  Turkmenistan,  Kyrgyzstan,  Uzbekistan, Tajikistan,   Azerbaijan,   Nepal,  Indonesia,  Chile,  Argentina,  Uruguay,  Paraguay,  Brazil,  Peru,   Aruba,  Venezuela,  Bolivia, Suriname,  Guyana,  Aruba,  The Dominican Republic,  Guatemala,  Costa Rica,  Colombia,  Trinidad and Tobago,   Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados,  The Virgin Islands,  Saint Lucia,   The Netherlands Antilles,  Panama,   Northern Mariana Islands,   Saint Vincent & Grenadines,   Grenada, Ecuador,  Belize,   Nicaragua,   El Salvador,   Cayman Islands,  The Bahamas,   Honduras,   Mexico,    Madagascar,   Ethiopia,   Gabon,   San Marino,  Saint Kitts & Nevis Anguilla,  Burkina Faso,   Equatorial Guinea,   Polynesia,  Madagascar,   Mauritania,   Burundi,   

and my home, The Great Free State of Idaho in the USA...

If your home is not listed here please e-mail and tell us where you're from...








We accept checks, money orders & traveler's cheques of all kinds. We will also gladly accept Swift international bank transfer or for Credit and Debit card orders: You can use Western Union (1 877 984 0469) or you can send it by Swift bank transfer. For Swift you'll need our bank codes, e-mail us at We usually respond within 24 hours and you'll have your first three lessons the very next day. Be Sure and send your regular AND E-mail addresses with your tuition payments! Use your credit card with Paypal!



Send Payment to:       

SPEEDY SERVICE! As a courtesy customers receive their first 3 lessons the same day we receive payment by e-mail!

The complete 15 lesson course on CD-ROM disks go out in the mail out the next day! *



Bonus Section:

Essays and articles on Realistic Art and Art philosophy yesterday and today.

Also: Information about Original Art, books and Posters for Sale as well as Art Instruction

Philosophy, Art, & Art Philosophy


     Howard David Johnson is an outspoken proponent of mechanical aids to visual art. His mission is to help preserve our vanishing cultural heritage, not to prove his talent.After a lifetime of working in traditional drawing and painting media like Oil painting, Pastels, Graphite, Charcoals, Inks and Colored pencils, he  expanded to 2D and 3D digital media and now creates images combining all these.   

goddess art painting of greek godes

"Hera, Queen of the Olympians" MMXII Mixed Media

   Drawing upon more than fifty years of experience, he rarely uses only one medium any more and every picture has a different combination or recipe so he simply calls it  all Mixed media.

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.

oracle of delphi painting bu Howard David Johnson

"The Oracle of Delphi" MMXIX Mixed Media

   Introducing an exciting merger of traditional visual art and cutting edge technology... a new art form for the twenty- first century... Art Numerica 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. 



Art and Technology: From the Camera to the Computer

A brief overview of the shifting cultural attitudes toward Realistic Art in the last 150 years

~Essay #8 by Howard David Johnson


 The first decade of the 21st Century has seen a grass-roots counter-revolution in the art world which has overthrown the stranglehold elitist proponents of Abstract expressionism gained on academia, the media and the art world at large in the early 20th Century.

   Realistic Art was declared obsolete and irrelevant at the beginning of the 20th Century due to the easy chronicling of persons, places, and events by the Camera - in spite of this new technology empowering the greatest era in Realistic Art history. The “Modern Day Artist” refused to die and began to explore realms of the heart and mind the camera could not record. The proponents of Abstract Expressionism gained control of elite art collector’s markets followed by academic institutions and the media leading to the abandonment of centuries of classical teaching methods and traditions in our universities. Even the best realistic art was later denounced and ridiculed as the dismissive and often even hostile Art establishment created elitist scorn for Realistic Art in general. This created a disconnect with the general population who could not relate to the tenets of Abstract Expressionism. The advent of the internet broke the absolute domination of the opinions of the Abstract School on media and academia and opened the floodgates of artistic expression and free opinions. Free at last from institutionalized condemnation, more and more artists began to choose realistic treatments and a tidal wave of fabulous new realistic art has been created in every conceivable visual art media for museums, galleries, books, movies, and video games.

As the camera became commercially available in the early 19th Century it became clear that the visual artist was no longer an indispensable member of society. Just about anyone could point and shoot this device at persons, places, and things and get very fast and very realistic results. Resentment from thousands of years of artists’ social and political influence fueled the notion that visual artists should be declared obsolete. The adoption of the camera as an artist’s tool and the advent of an era of glorious and unprecedented realism in painting did not stop the movement to crush the political and social influence of the artist.

Great realistic artists like Pablo Picasso and others like Vincent Van Gogh courageously answered this challenge by exploring concepts that could not be photographed with brilliant and visionary works. It was from these honest and ingenious notions that the schools and sub-schools of Abstract Art developed. The freshness and innovation of this movement took the art world and academia by storm. The excitement of defining the tenets and the delight of bewildering the masses gave rise to an elite class of critics who could control the lucrative art collector’s market with obfuscation and intellectual snobbery.

This wealthy art collector’s market gave credence to Abstract Expressionism’s “high art” status and the advice of well placed critics became extremely valuable and they formed an alliance with like-minded academics. As time passed, this trendy movement whose concepts were so hard to argue with gained control of the establishment and elitism took root. It was not long before traditional painting methods were not taught in universities any more as realistic art was no longer considered “Real Art” and tenets like; “Art must be ugly”, Art must be new” Art must be obscure”, and “The best Art is offensive” took hold in schools and printed media.

Not satisfied with control over the most lucrative galleries, collector’s markets and academia, these elitists moved from dismissive to openly hostile attitudes toward those who still loved and created realistic art. The merciless and unprovoked rebukes of great realistic artists like Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and so many others are well documented in 20th century histories. That’s not “Real Art” and why do you waste your talent on “Mere Illustration” were some of the nicer comments. Illustrators in the 20th century wore these rebukes like badges of honor, like black eyes gained from standing up to schoolyard bullies, knowing in their hearts what they were doing was worthwhile and the narrow minded views of their critics were not the only valid opinions. By the end of the 20th century, the long apprenticeship tradition was broken and classical realistic art methods were lost forever. The Shock Art movement in the 1990’s carried the tenets to new extremes as “ART” became a dirty word. U.S. Government Endowments for the Arts were discontinued. Abstract Art had become the norm with its obfuscated themes and was then itself considered irrelevant and academically worthless. Art programs were then removed from countless public school curriculums to make time for standardized test preparation. There is no way that mandating more math, requiring more reading, or scheduling more science will replace what we have lost as a culture.   

At the turn of the 21st Century the Abstract Expressionists had been in control for generations with a thought control blockade in books, newspapers, radio, television and schools. Anyone who disagreed with them was told they were too stupid to understand “Real Art” and theirs was the only voice to be heard. What had begun so beautifully and sincerely was hijacked and violated until it became a byword for vulgarity. Then came the internet and the realistic artists, long silenced began to express their views. It was like the boy who cried: “The Emperor has no clothes!” This revelation spread like wildfire through the cultural consciousness.  Suddenly, it was no longer a disgrace to hold something other than those narrow views. Galleries on the internet showcased generations of repressed artists realistic works in a tidal wave art history calls: “the Realistic Revolt”. Of course, Abstract Art still flourishes today especially on college campuses, but the narrow views of its most fanatical proponents are no longer cruelly dominant.

The Realistic Revolt has brought the return of respectability to illustration and realistic landscape and portraiture. When I see the works of today’s vast multitude of realistic artists coming from a thousand different directions at once, tears come to my eyes, for I have worn the title “illustrator” as a badge of honor for decades and am deeply moved to have lived to see new developments in art and technology drive the visual arts to levels of quality beyond my wildest dreams. I predict 3D and digital media will grow more and more realistic until photos seem noticeably inferior. The internet has not only opened the floodgates for artistic expression, but employment and untold artists are earning a living shattering the “Starving Artist” stereotype so engrained in our cultural consciousness. The beginning of the 20th century saw technology threatening the survival of the professional artist and the end of it saw the unbridled tenets of Abstract Expressionism like “Art must be offensive” threatening the very existence of art as a part of our culture, the modern day artist has once again refused to die and has embraced technology to create a rebirth of realism that Art critics, collectors, academics and everyday folk can all embrace and celebrate in ways I once feared had been lost to us forever.

~ Howard David Johnson (2012)


"Those who are enamored 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 realistic visual artist and photographer with a background in
the natural sciences and history. He works in a wide variety of realistic art 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

These portraits rendered in Prismacolor pencils are not at all what people think of when they hear the word 'drawing'

colord pincal portrat how to      lessons for portrates       fine art portrat 


Pencil Art- rendered in Prismacolor and Spectracolor colored pencils with Ebony pencil lowlights on Windsor & Newton Cotman 140 lb. Water Color Paper . Background heightened with Rembrandt Soft pastels. Even with nothing but pencil & paper the use of original photography as a source makes this mixed media.


     The various galleries linked to by the icons above show many examples of  David's Realistic Art, and are grouped by theme rather than media. There are also sample illustrations from his books on Fairy Art and Mythology. Since boyhood David has studied and copied the old masters.

         To create his art works David begins with a concept followed by a realistic sketch, researching and traveling to find scenes and locations. Photography comes next. Working in his Analog Photography Studio with live models he follows up with a digitally assembled photo montage in the computer, combining original and old realistic elements to create a new work. 

         Using a strategy employed by J. W. Waterhouse, the realistic artist David imitates most - his wistful and graceful models cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the stunning beauty and the potential for lasting appeal of his work.  

Finding and training the right models is the hard part, then Photography, Mathematical Design and Digital Composition all come before the image is transferred to paper or canvas and rendered in mixed media ( including prismacolor pencils, oils, acrylics, and or many other traditional art media).

   As a boy David dedicated his life to art in 1960. From 1965- 1999 he used xeroxes and tracings to make his preliminary montages. This is patterned after  the manner used by Maxfield Parrish and other 19th century notables.

      Beginning with a tracing, David 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 traditional realistic art media. 

      David has built up an enormous library of original source photos to use in his realistic art.  For decades David has sought out the most beautiful models and brought them in for sessions in his analog photography studio. Working in a realistic style inspired by classic illustrators David is deeply rooted and grounded in the Greco-Roman artistic tradition, Feeling that especially with realistic art - that  the human form is the ultimate arena for artistic expression.


    David's favorite medium for traditional 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 to which he said: "There is NO GREATER COMPLIMENT to the photo-realist than disbelief."  In the last 35 plus years David has also mastered Oils, Pastels, Acrylics, Watercolors, Inks, Scratchboard, Gouache, Photography, and most recently, even the highly controversial digital media. 

  As a commercial illustrator David has not only used the computer to create realistic art but has been involved in the development and marketing of computer imaging software for Adobe Photoshop. 



lengendary women woman greek legend oil painting

Pandora's box : First a sketch, then a photo, then a collage, then a Prismacolor Painting, Then finally rendered as an oil painting. (above) Painting dozens of layers of Transparent glazes of Oil  on Canvas


David's lifelong dream to become a master artist 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 realistic visual artist Howard David Johnson first experimented with combining traditional and digital media in 1999. Because of his passion for realistic art, photography, and art tradition, David elected to embrace it and joyfully be a part of this era in the visual arts as a 21st century realistic artist. Computers have not diminished David's passion for working in traditional art media. He still loves to draw portraits from his own photographs as well as using them to create realistic story-telling illustrations in various media.  
      "Art tradition and etiquette suggest the artists who have been most influential should be mentioned at exhibits; these original new pieces shown in this exhibit take their inspiration in part from the paintings of Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, Church, Godward, Moreau, Bouguereau, Leighton, Ingres, Moore, Parrish, Rackham and others. Most of my sources are changed so much they are impossible to detect, but sometimes I make it obvious to pay homage.  Where would Walt Disney be without the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Victor Hugo and so many others? Where would Aaron Copeland have been without American folk music? Thomas Nast's Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Picasso without African art?   These are artists who made names and fortunes through Public Domain appropriation, one and all. Beethoven did "variations on a theme" with the works of Mozart for the same reasons I have done mine with Waterhouse and others- to learn and give homage to the artists who most inspired me. " ~  HDJ

 This site features realistic paintings & pictures including oil paintings and lots of other exciting realistic art media such as colored pencil drawings, pastel paintings, acrylic paintings, gouache paintings, water color 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 David offers his customers a host of payment and product options. He delivers these custom made copyright free realistic illustrations and old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire.

David'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. 

Return to Pellucidar by Howard David Johnson

Lost Worlds of Fantasy and Science Fiction ~  A n Exhibition of  illustrations in the tradition of H. Ryder Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. P. Lovecraft and others


  Since 1974 when David began his art career doing dinosaur reconstructions and artifact records as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas David has earned his living in a variety of ways including 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... 

    Howard David Johnson, or David as he is called, accepts select commissions to paint custom oil paintings with down payments starting at only one thousand dollars. Other media, like colored pencils or digital are of course far less expensive.

     He grants permission to use his 72 dpi images for most educational purposes simply for asking courteously. Visit his  Permission page for complete info. To use his existing realistic art commercially, David offers licenses for publishing starting as low as only $99. USD

We love hearing from you! Use the e-mail link to contact him...


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

                   Art education has been almost completely removed from American Schools. Today, most American college graduates cannot name even one living artist. There is no way that mandating more math, requiring more reading, or scheduling more science will replace what we have lost as a culture.  


"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



Essay One: On Realistic Art:

What is YOUR definition of ART?




( A Brief essay dealing with attitudes toward Realistic Art and prior developments in technology in history)


  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.

~Dierdre of the Sorrows copy.jpg (49196 bytes)~Dierdre of the Sorrows detail.jpg (59016 bytes)


 Soft Pastels, Acrylics, and Colored Pencils combined while the detail reveals Realistic art and Abstract art styles harmoniously combined in the same picture.


    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...


    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, Michelangelo, 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? ~.H.D.J.  


      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.

Essay Two

Realistic Art : The Rebirth of Realism in the 21st Century

More thoughts on realistic art yesterday and today


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. 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 David 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 (Art Numérica). 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.

~ Howard David Johnson MMII


"The Epic Cycle" Now on sale from Oxford University Press...

The Epic Cycle by M.L.West cover by Howard David Johnson


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         These Mythic Art creations take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as the film West Side Story came from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, who in turn copied it from Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Our shared cultural heritage, great works of art, literature, music and drama, cinema, folk tales and fairy tales are all drawn upon again and again by the creators of new works. These works in the public domain are both a catalyst and a wellspring for creativity and innovation. Where would Walt Disney be without the Brothers Grimm  Hans Christian Anderson, or Victor Hugo? Where would Aaron Copeland have been without American folk music?  Or Thomas Nast's Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Pablo Picasso without aboriginal African art? Public domain appropriators, one and all. When America was formed, copyright law was created to promote the public creativity and had 14 year terms to reward the creators, but now with 100 plus year terms very little is currently allowed to enter into the public domain and its preservation is of the utmost urgency to our future cultural well-being.  In keeping with art tradition and etiquette following the exhibit , I mention some of the artists and writers that have influenced me the most; William Bouguereau, John William Waterhouse, Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin, Edmund Blair Leighton,  Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham,  Arthur Hughes, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Viktor Vasnetsov, Jean Auguste Ingres, Anthony Van Dyke,  Lawrence Alma-Tadema,  Wallace Wood, Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, Ray Harryhausen, H.G. Wells, Gustave Moreau, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Will Durant, The Pre- Raphaelites, The Symbolists, et al. 


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 legal non-commercial uses is freely available by simply contacting the author or visiting       

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

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