Frequently Asked Questions


"Serious Instruction for Serious Artists"


Examples of the kind of Portraiture Taught in Foundations for Art (above)

Welcome, Please read these frequently asked questions and the syllabus (Course Outline) carefully before placing your order and feel free to write us if any of your questions remain unanswered at the e-mail address provided below... every reasonable inquiry gets a personal response!


Examples of the kind of Illustration Taught in Foundations for Art (below)

Aphrodite's Child (Harmonia).jpg (75939 bytes)

Affordable Art Lessons: The Brandywine School of the Illustrative Arts offers beginning, intermediate, advanced & master level instruction in Drawing, Painting, Photography, & Digital Illustration by Internationally acclaimed Illustrator & Photographer Howard David Johnson. 


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 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.   

OR Send a  Postal Payment to: HOWARD DAVID JOHNSON 1015 SKYLINE PL CALDWELL ID 83605

Use your credit card with Paypal!



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

Due to so many computers no longer having disk drives, now both Domestic and International orders deliver the 15 lesson CD contents and supplemental materials by direct download.



24 years on the World Wide Web 1996-2020!

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How does this kind of distance learning art instruction work?

A: The courses are self-paced, based upon college distance learning classes which have strict time limits. After reading and studying each carefully prepared and profusely illustrated lesson, the student applies some of what they learn to a drawing and send it for feedback. Our staff emails you immediately to let you know we received your letter and then my personal responses are usually within a week or less. People with day jobs have taken years to complete this and some people fly through it- We understand everyone is in a different situation- so there is no time limit. No pressure-ONLY encouragement!

Q: I am only a beginner, will this be too advanced for me?

A: By popular demand I added remedial lessons to the program in 2006, we start with the value scale, (fading black to gray to white) blending techniques, basic shading techniques, drawing shapes like cones and boxes and shading those. You CANNOT get more basic than that. We move on at a reasonable pace to more complex work- a portrait, then one easy step at a time we build on our "Foundations for Art". Even if you're a pro, it never hurts to refresh your memory of the basics.

(This course offers easy to understand profusely illustrated realistic art instruction for under two hundred dollars you can't get for $50,000.- $120,000 in the abstract expressionist dominated art programs at major accredited Universities!)

Q: Why the Name; The Brandywine School?

 A: The Original Brandywine School was started by Howard Pyle, America's first great illustrator and had such notables as N.C. Wyeth among his students. I follow their style. The School was very small and very personal, operating out of Pyle's Studio.

Q: How often do you personally answer letters?

 A:  I sit down and give my undivided attention to answer my student's questions and offer feedback about once a week depending on my workload. Sometimes its the next day. I am here to provide product support and to answer any lesson-related questions. Students also get 3 formal critiques (the college standard per art class). EVERY student letter gets a prompt answer (usually within 1 business day) from the school stating their letter and or attachment came in all right. I welcome art for quick feedback or quick questions and this does NOT count against the formal critiques where our whole staff sits down in roundtable fashion to target areas that need attention and brainstorm and mastermind personal positive feedback for you.

Q: How do I get my lessons?

A: You get them FAST! The first three come via e-mail the same day we accept your payment and then you are provided an EZ no password one-click temporary download ink for the whole course! The paypal customers get them within hours.  With today's digital cameras and scanners and speedy e-mail,  distance learning is better than ever before! Expensive mailings of art and lengthy waits for feedback are things of the past!

Q: How long do I have to wait for my order to be processed?

A: Students receive their first 3 lessons the VERY same day we receive payment & their CD-Rom Master Disk contents are usually made available within one business day.  Because of our response time we're actually much faster than most on-line credit card mail order purchases. INTERNATIONAL students are most welcome. As a courtesy customers receive their first 3 lessons within 24 hours by e-mail! Due to so many computers no longer having disk drives, now both Domestic and International orders deliver the 15 lesson CD contents and supplemental materials by direct download.

Q: You say all we need are pencil supplies but I see photography, computers and oil painting in the lessons! I can't afford oils! Do I have buy oils for Foundations for Art?

A: No.  This is a drawing and picture designing class and so the computer, photographic, and wet painting media chapters are introductions and so the homework is optional in those. 90% of art is in your mind and heart so observation exercises and consciousness of things like how light works are essential to great drawing! 

     Q: Do I have to submit art for critique?

A: Not if you don't want to. To go on to the master level instruction, finished homework assignments of your choice are required to be submitted with an essay stating your goals at the end and they may ALL be in colored pencil, but two from other media are welcome as well. The course is self-paced and no one even has to submit homework at all. 

     Q: What are your payment options for the $199.USD tuition?

We accept Paypal by sending your payment to or using the paypal buttons right on the page. Signing up takes five minutes and is super-secure! We also gladly accept checks, money orders & traveler's cheques of all kinds my mail. We will also gladly accept Swift international bank transfer or for Credit and Debit card orders: Use Western Union (1 877 984 0469) who charges 10 dollars to send it by Swift bank transfer. For our bank codes, e-mail us. We usually respond within 24 hours and you have your lessons the next day.

      Q: What supplies do I actually need to buy to take the course?

A: It's not very expensive! An electric pencil sharpener, A dozen # 2 pencils with good virgin erasers, a Dozen Ebony pencils, (or facsimile ) A set of 48 or more colored pencils, preferably Original Prismacolors, the new hard lead  Prismacolors, or a facsimile. Bristol board or smooth drawing paper, a kneaded ( stretchy ) eraser, magic rub erasers, art gum erasers, tissue paper, Odorless turpenoid, a variety of sponges, Krylon workable spray fixative & lots of blending stumps, small, medium, & large. The last four lessons do not have homework. There are lots of other things you might want to add as you go along, like your own camera, but this list of supplies will get you through Foundations for Art!

     Q: Exactly what grade level (as in high school or college) is Foundations for Art on?

A: I've had five veteran professional certified art teachers with more than 110 years of U.S.  government classroom experience between them look it over so far. They've all agreed that FFA is on a college level to graduate school level of instruction because of big words like perspective. I hated my college Professors and textbooks that deliberately made things obscure or hard. I like to keep things as simple as possible, but there are just no four letter words for important terms like perspective or composition. In these cases I use multiple diagrams and break it down. 

(Here's a quote from a student from India, who speaks English as a second language; "I am reading through lesson 1, and am totally awed by not only your work, but the easy reading of your instruction. Your teaching style is almost as wonderful as your art (which according to me ranks at #1 position).")

     Q: Can I print out copies of all the large individual images for study?

A: Yes, you have permission for private academic use. When you download it, all the images go in a separate file and can be printed out. They can be printed out from your CD-Rom Disk as well. For best quality, do not try & enlarge them & use high quality (or photo) paper.

Q: Will Foundations for Art  tell me exactly what subjects to draw, paint, or photograph my pictures of?

A: No. I want you inspired. All assignments allow creative freedom in choice of subject like a graduate school level program unless you need help to get started. I will give you specific assignments if that kind of motivation works better for you however, I'm flexible.

Q: What can I expect to gain from this first course?

A: You can expect drastic improvement in your work because of the strategic and targeted approach of HDJ's teaching style. You can be absolutely sure what you need to do to become a master artist yourself.

Q: Will Foundations teach me how to shade like you do and draw in three dimensions?

A: Yes, and in great detail, but learning how its done and practicing it enough to be able do it yourself are two ENTIRELY different things...

Q: Does Foundations for Art have a lesson dealing with creating composites so I can ask specific questions about computers?

A: Yes, Personally I LOVE computers! There are two lessons that deal with designing illustrations. Some students use projection, some tracing paper and light tables and some computers. I can give you the tips you need to design great illustrations no matter what your compositing methods. There is a school of thought that seems to think that a caveman’s beating on a hollow log with a stick is automatically superior to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony performed by the world’s finest symphony orchestra because less technology is involved. I do not subscribe to this kind of thinking. First of all, there’s the freedom from fear! The undo button is empowering and liberating! More importantly, publishing customers can't afford to pay me for old-fashioned traditional methods like oil on canvas. I can do them, and do them well, but no one but millionaire art collectors can afford to pay even poverty level hourly rates for all that time. The masters often took a year for a single painting. With digital media I can create pieces that look very nice for very nice prices and with blazing speed. The publishing industry is not noted for its patience. In the early days of my art career, mailing traditional media originals was scary at best, but now they can be scanned and shipped without risk. Also in my early days adding canvas space to a work in progress was as impossible as growing a second head... Re-dos and revisions were financially catastrophic, but now it is so easy I usually don't even charge extra to adapt them if its just skies or landscapes!

      Q: How are the advanced classes different than the foundations for art?

A: The advanced classes also give specific assignments designed to create immediate and dramatic improvement in your work, but based on your personal goals rather than focusing on what every realistic artist must know. No two students get the same kind of guidance. 

      Q: Why is the introductory course devoted to drawing and design rather than painting?

A: Leonardo Da Vinci used to say if you couldn't draw, you would never have anything worth painting. Like in building a house, you don't start with the roof, but lay the foundation. After you Foundation for Art is expanded and reinforced, we build on it in the second course, going into oils or digital media or even photography for example, at the student's discretion.

   Q: Who should not take Foundations for Art?

A: Although mechanical aids are not required at all, The teacher uses them, so people who oppose the legal use of mechanical aids, such as photography or computers, or who think that oils are the only valid art medium should go elsewhere. Also, people who do not have access to a computer or people who hate or have trouble reading should not enroll, this is not entertainment or a movie, it is serious instruction for serious artists.

     Q: Any rules?

 A:  I only have ONE CONDUCT RULE: I will not tolerate deliberate disrespect or discourtesy. Some people think that being rude or inconsiderate is cute, I don't. I give and get respect. Its a warm, informal, safe and POSITIVE environment to learn in and a lot of fun! Submissions with inappropriate content will be disqualified. This can include obvious failure to have read the material or follow instructions, a rude or disrespectful tone or comments or personal topics including religion or politics. Disqualified submissions may be re-worked and re-submitted without penalty.

     Q: What is your refund policy?

A: The same as any business that sells digital files. Just as you cannot buy an audio CD, DVD movie, Video game or software and go home, copy it and return it for cash we cannot offer refunds after the URLs and passwords are released. Because of the power to copy digital files in the hands of everyday people no business gives refunds on digital files. Unsure? Write me. I personally answer every prospective student's questions to make sure you know EXACTLY what you're getting. These lessons have been copied by major art schools. After 17 years and over a thousand students I have had only two complaints, seven years apart and the Better Business Bureau said they were unfounded. That's less than 1/40th of one percent.

     Q: What if I am a minor?

A: You must be 17 or older or have a parental permission note included with your order as there are a couple of mild "R" rated images of the human body shown from the front in the life drawing and anatomy sections.

Q: What are those Lesson 1-14 Topics again?

A Summary: Each of these 15 lessons contains simple in- depth straight forward instruction profusely illustrated with new & huge unpublished step- by- step how to illustrations along with serious food for thought for the growing artist passed down from the old masters...


(Topics covered in Foundations for Art 1-15)

 Concise: Teaching you everything you need to understand and to work on to become a master Illustrator and Portraitist... no more, no less.

By the end of lesson 15 I will have shown you everything you need to know and do to create your own pictures like "ALL HALLOWS EVE" below... Read the Syllabus and see!

 Mixed Media including digital                       Prismacolor colored pencils on paper                          Oil Painting on Canvas   


Lesson One: Newly Expanded! Dry Painting Media; Painting with Colored Pencils, Tools, Technique, & Drawing & Shading methods explained very clearly!

Lesson Two: Basic Principles of Shading, Texture, & Form

Lesson Two point Five:  All New! Adding Simple Backgrounds to your drawings of people!

Lesson Three: Newly Expanded! Drawing in three dimensions! Perspective Drawing, Elements of Drawing from life, Drawing from pictures, Drawing from your imagination and combining these 3 kinds of drawing.

Lesson Four: Introduction to artistic anatomy /the general importance of measurements and proportions in everything.

Lesson five: Concepts of Contour ( Line ) and Volume Drawing.

Lesson Six: Basic Concepts of shadow and light as applied to drawing.

Lesson Seven: Of Color as applied to Reflection and Luminescence.

Lesson Eight: Elements of Action and Story Telling in Art.

Lesson nine: Newly Expanded! Elements of Composition and Design.

Lesson Ten: Newly Expanded! Professional Secrets of Colored Pencil shading and blending.

 Lesson Eleven:   All New!   How To Take Excellent Source Photos I: Technical information & diagrams, & aesthetic Secrets of Professional Fine Art Portrait Photography & Lighting.

Lesson Twelve:   All New!    How To Take Excellent  Source Photos II: Secrets of figure source Photography (characters) and Lighting for illustrations.

Lesson Thirteen: All New!  Introduction to Wet Painting Media; Painting with Acrylic, Watercolor, Oils, & Mixed Media: Tools, Supplies, & Organization Tips!

Lesson Fourteen: All New!  Introduction to Professional Image Editing Programs like Adobe Photoshop! A profusely illustrated and easy to understand introduction to today's business tools for old-fashioned artists. Step by step profusely illustrated instructions on how to scan large art in pieces and assemble them in a computer full size & more! 




          Esther, a student and professional artist from India says; "I am reading through lesson 1, and am totally awed by not only your work, but the easy reading of your instruction. Your teaching style is almost as wonderful as your art (which according to me ranks at #1 position)." 

       Tahnja, a student and professional artist from Australia says:  "When I look back at my art I can see a HUGE growth since studying with you and I'm very, very happy with that growth. Thank you again my dear friend. It's great souls like you that make the world a truly wonderful and rewarding place to live in."

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"Moon goddess Diana MMVIII" - media: Prismacolors with Ebony pencil lowlights on Windsor & Newton Cotman 140 lb. Water Color Paper . Background heightened with pastels.)

Note:  Purchasing this art instruction is like buying a Bow-flex or a piece of exercise equipment; if you don't practice you won't see any results- I guarantee it! If you apply the contents of each of these lessons to a piece of art after reading them you will see dramatic improvement in your art- I guarantee that too! Remember- Practice makes perfect!

Kindness, clarity & encouragement are the trademarks of HDJ's mentoring style.

Still have questions?   Please feel free to drop me a line...


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The Realistic Paintings and Pictures of American Artist & Illustrator Howard David Johnson.

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Shadow is the withholding of light

    It seems to me that the shadows are of supreme importance in perspective, seeing that without them opaque and solid bodies will be indistinct, both as to what lies within their boundaries and also as to their boundaries themselves, unless these are seen against a background differing in color to that of the substance: and consequently in the first proposition I treat of shadow, and say in this connection that every opaque body is surrounded and has its surface clothed with shadow and lights.  Moreover these shadows are in themselves of varying degrees of darkness because they are caused by the absence of a variable quantity of luminous rays: and these I call primary shadows, because they are the first shadows and so form a covering to the bodies to which they attach themselves.  From these primary shadows there issue certain dark rays which are diffused throughout the air and vary in intensity according to the varieties of the primary shadows from which they are derived;  and consequently I call these shadows derived shadows, because they have their origin in other shadow.  Moreover these derived shadows in striking upon anything create as many different effects as are the different places where they strike. And since where the derived shadow strikes, it is always surrounded by the striking of the luminous rays, it leaps back with these in a reflex stream towards its source and meets the primary shadow, and mingles with and becomes changed into it, altering thereby somewhat of its nature. 



I }     Realistic Art Media and Attitudes: The more things change, the more they stay the same

II }    Realistic Art Tradition and Technology: The Rebirth of Realistic art in the 21st century

III }   History and Myth: How do we sort out History and Mythology?

IV }   Science and Religion: Has Science become a Religion?

V }    On Sexuality, Violence, Morality, and their relationships with the Arts in 21st century American Society

VI }   Copyright Law and the Visual Arts in the Computer Age

VII }   On Art and Technology; When seeing is NOT believing  NEW!

VIII }  Complete low Bandwidth Essays collected on one page



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