Mythology in Paintings & Pictures: Classical, Greek and Roman, Myths & Legends. An exhibition of Mythic Art by Contemporary American Illustrator Howard David Johnson, whose illustrations of Mythology have been published all over the world by distinguished learning institutions and publishers including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

The Mythology of the Ancient Greeks and Romans

Perseus Medusa krakken Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

zeus jupiter jove thunder bolt lightning eagle Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

Presents: Contemporary Mythical Art Galleries

A Brief introduction to Greek Mythology with a Gallery of New Paintings, Drawings and Pictures of the gods and goddesses of Classical Greek Mythology in traditional oils, contemporary acrylics and cutting edge digital mixed media in the style of the classic illustrators! Newly updated for 2023!


The Mythology of the Ancient Greeks & Romans ~  Scroll down for large images...


This Gallery is dedicated to John William Waterhouse and features music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( 1840- 1893) - "Swan Lake"




An Introduction to Greek Mythology... 

Mythology as I was taught, is the study of legendary religious or heroic events so alien to what we have seen and heard that we cannot accept them as reality. This explains the choice of the name, the English adjective "mythical" meaning "unbelievable". Of course, these stories were considered to be true at the time by the religiously minded. 

chronus titan rhea chronos Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

Cronus (Aka Saturn) was king of the Titans and forced his wife Rhea to surrender their six children for him to eat alive in vain hopes of breaking a prophecy of being supplanted by them. Zeus and the Olympians escaped and waged a ten year war, "The Titanomachy".

     The primary function of these stories was to answer difficult questions about who we are and how we came to be. Another value of myth was to validate social institutions and account for traditions, rites and customs. 

    Primitive cultures often remodeled the older myths to adapt to changes wrought by revolution, war or  technology, and usually glossed over the brutality and corrupt motives. 

    From the dawn of mankind story telling has been a tool of record keeping and the Greek civilization was no exception. 


Jason Argonauts argo Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

"Jason and the Argonauts" MMXVI mixed media)  illustrates a true classic, a myth that speaks an important  universal message to every generation a great example of the value of myth and its need for preservation in the modern day...

      Around 1100 BC we have records that the Greeks had in place an institutionalized form of story-telling about their gods, heroes, and mortals, almost always taught a moral lesson and always seemed to create a reflection of the heavenly realm in parallel events on Earth.  The Golden Age tell us of a time when gods and mortals interacted closely; with legends of early conflicts and consorts between mortal men and women, demigods, and immortals. Unlike the age of heroes or the heroic age when Olympian activity on Earth was far less common.

     To properly study and even more so to illustrate myth, a large body of esoteric historical, anthropological, cultural, geographic, and architectural knowledge must be mastered; also knowledge of the properties of flora and fauna, and the appearance and habits of wild beasts and birds.The Legends of the Greeks were broken into Three Ages; The myths of origin or the age of the gods, tales about the origins of the world, the gods, and mankind.  The Iliad by Homer was the greatest of these heroic legends and carved in stone the details of Greek Mythology we know to this day, his account of the Trojan War and subsequent events is considered by some scholars to be yet a fourth period. There are myths for every race and culture, this exhibition contains illustrations of the myths of the Greeks and Romans....




The Olympians; the 12 principal gods of the Classical World




zeus jupiter jove thunder bolt lightning eagle Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



hades pluto underworld



poseidon neptune aphrodite trident Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


 Zeus [aka Jupiter or Jove]

     The very name, Zeus, from the Sanskrit root Dyaus and the Latin Dies evoke the luminous sky. He was the sky god and awarded himself the heavens upon defeating his father in the war with the Titans. Both the son of Cronus and his ultimate undoing, he would later become the king of the gods and master of Olympus. He was the brother or father of all of the Olympians. He was commonly known for his wrath and his constant infidelities against his sister and wife Hera, the Queen of Heaven, for he loved many goddesses and mortal women.  He was commonly depicted in art from the Classical period - robed and enthroned, but in the tales of Greek mythology he was fast to wrath and usually shown as spiteful and petty hurling the master thunderbolt given him by the Cyclopes in the War with the Titans. In my painting I have chosen the Early Greek period shortly after the war.



 Poseidon [aka Neptune]

      Poseidon was, like Zeus and Hades, A son of Cronus, after helping to defeat his father he was given the oceans to rule as his domain.  He was also known as the creator of the first horse as well as the bringer of earth quakes, which where usually the result of his anger during a argument over who controlled the land. He sided with Greeks during the war with troy because the Trojans cheated him after he built their wall. 

He had many children that were usually savage and cruel like the sea. In his depictions he is usually depicted similar to Zeus but with less majestic calm, he is usually shown with his trident, crafted for him by the Cyclopes which he used to control the seas. He was commonly worshiped by sailors and feared by men of the sea. He married Amphitrite, granddaughter to Oceanus the Titan.




prometheus bound greek mythology zeus eagle Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



Hydra  Lerna hercules dragon herakles Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



Hephaestus Vulcan forge Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


Prometheus [no alias]

       A Titan who was said to have created mankind with his own tears, he sided with the Olympians in the Titanomachy, the war between the Titans and the Olympians. Prometheus (who foresees) held a grudge against the Olympians for the destruction of his race.  He is most commonly known for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to man,. He is commonly depicted as the protector of mankind often opposing Zeus when his wrath for the mortals would have him wipe them out. Because of Zeus’s anger over the meeting of gods and men at Mecone he took fire to the mortals, Zeus had planned to give it to them but his anger over his sacrifice made him withdraw the gift. Prometheus would for his theft be chained to a mountain cliff where an eagle [a symbol of Zeus] would come and eat his liver daily. feeling mankind also needed to be punished for this gift of fire, Zeus created and sent the first woman, Pandora.





Hephaestus [aka Vulcan]

    The son of Zeus and Hera, he was the god of fire and culture. Upon his birth he was cast out of the heavens because of his disability, only to be taken in by the water spirits and later returned. His main role was as that of the smith of the gods making most of their weapons, armor, and tools. 

He was the husband of Aphrodite and partner to Athena in spreading wisdom and culture.) The relation between Hephaestus and Prometheus is in some respects close, though the distinction between these gods is clearly marked. The fire as an element belongs to the Olympian Hephaestus. He is usually depicted pounding molten metal with a hammer but in this painting, I showcase his craftsmanship, artistry and attention to detail.






hera juno olympus greek myth queen goddess Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



ares mars god war greek myth Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



athena minerva  olympus greek myth goddessGreek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


Hera [aka Juno]

    Both the sister and wife of Zeus and Olympian Queen of Heaven, she was said to have severe beauty and was usually shown crowned with a diadem and wearing a long tunic with a veil. She had two primary roles in their religion; as the consort of Zeus and queen of heaven, and the goddess that presided over marriage,. She was also the birth-goddess, as well as goddess of flowers who presided over all phases of feminine existence. Hera was said to be modest,  the representation of the ideal wife, but still stood out as the most physically beautiful of the Olympians. She is often shown as vengeful and jealous, even leaving Zeus for a time to punish his infidelity. Her sacred symbols were Peacocks with their spangled plumage and a Lotus staff.








Athena [aka Minerva]

     The Daughter of Zeus and his wife Metis, Zeus swallowed his wife when she was pregnant with Athena because of a prophecy that their children might be more powerful then him and dethrone him, Prometheus because of this act split Zeus’ s head with a hatchet and Athena leapt out fully clad in shield and armor.

   She was the goddess of counsel, of war, of female arts and industries, and protectress of Greek city’s. She was commonly depicted with her helmet, the Agies, the round shield with the face of the gorgon on it , the lance, an olive branch, the owl, cock and the snack.







Demeter Ceres mother goddess greek harvest Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



apollon apollo son zeus lucifer Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



artemis diana moon goddess chase hunt greek myth Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


Demeter [aka Ceres]

    Her name evolved from a primitive form of the words "Earth Mother" Demeter appeared above all as goddess of the fruits and riches of the fields. Usually depicted seated and dressed in a long robe with a veil covering the back of her head. She was the corn goddess and wheat and barley were sacred to her. She presided over the harvest and all the agricultural labors that went into it. The eldest daughter of Cronus and sister to Zeus, she was the first devoured to avoid a prophecy of being overthrown by his children and last to be spit up after living with her siblings in his stomach. She was widely worshiped in the pre-historic and ancient worlds and was mother to Persephone, the goddess of Spring during the heyday of Classical Greece.


Artemis [aka Diana]

     The daughter of Zeus and Leto the twin sister to Apollo though said to have been born the day before and on a different part of the barren island. She is the goddess of the Moon and the hunt but also chastity and the protector of young men and ladies, this role often put her in conflict with Aphrodite and her brother as well.  She was also known as a goddess that would deal death as well as a goddess of purifying and healing powers like her twin. She is often depicted as chasing her brother Apollo around the world through the sky in an endless chase between night and day




 Apollo and Daphne; One would think a god such as Apollo, endowed with all the charms of youth, strength, grace, and beauty would find few to resist him. The amorous adventures of Apollo were numerous and legendary, but several of these Olympian goddesses, Oceanids, and nymphs such as Daphne were unwilling. Nor did all mortal women submit to Apollo's desires, some sources hint his arrogance, unfaithfulness, and cruelty made him impossible to love in spite of his obvious attributes. He tried in vain to seduce Daphne, the nymph and daughter of the river Peneius, who was as chaste as she was beautiful. When she refused to submit to Apollo, he attempted to ravish her; but she fled. He over-took her and she already felt the eager arms of the Sun god around her when she called upon the venerable Gaea to aid her. Immediately the Earth gaped open. Daphne disappeared, and in her place a Laurel Tree sprang from the ground. Apollo made it a plant sacred to him, and the Laurel wreath worn about the head was a symbol of great honor in Ancient Greece and Rome and is associated with great personal achievement to this day.



hermes mercury messenger greek gods Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



hestia vesta goddess mother hearth greek Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



aphrodite venus goddess love lust Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



Hermes [aka Mercury]

    He was the Son of Zeus and Maia (a daughter of Atlas), in his earliest role he was the god of fertility, and generally associated with the protection of wild life. With the Iliad he was given the duty of herald of the Gods, as well as the conductor of the dead to Hades. His most common identifying depictions where his winged helmet, winged shoes and his Caduceus or herald’s staff.











Aphrodite [aka Venus]

     Aphrodite Urania, was the celestial goddess of pure and ideal love, Aphrodite Genetrix or Nymphia favored and protected marriage, Aphrodite Porne was the goddess of lust and venal love, the patroness of prostitutes. The daughter of Zeus and Dione, and daughter of Oceanus she was married to Hephaestus but was also the lover of Aries, the god of war, and had a daughter with him named Harmonia. She was the goddess of all fruitfulness in the human,  animal and vegetable worlds; she was depicted as influencing all living things in heaven, earth and the sea even having sway over her fellow gods. She is most commonly known as the goddess of love and beauty.


Are these gods & monsters of Mythology the Watchers, Fallen Angels & Nephilim?

   They may be indeed : for the Apocalypse foretells a yet future sojourn of fallen angels upon earth, an event which will quickly dispel skepticism in regard to the past. But even now the evidence is ample, and may be found, not merely in the Biblical account of the Nephilim, but in the myths of all nations. What significance, for example, are we to attach to the story that Ceres instructed men in agriculture ? Why is music attributed to Apollo, eloquence to Mercury ? Whence arose the legend of the great Titan, who, in defiance of Zeus, expounded the civilizing arts to men, taught them medicine, astronomy, and divination, and stole fire for them from heaven ? Or, again, is there no basis of fact for the catalogue, contained in the mysterious book of Enoch, of arts which the Nephilim are said to have introduced among men ;* no reflection of truth in the appeal of Michael and his companions, when they say ; — " See, then, what Azazal has done ; how he has taught all wickedness on earth, and has revealed the secrets of the world which were prepared in the heavens" ? * The Book of Enoch, ii. 8. t Ibtd., ii 9. 

What if our Mythologies were true histories and NOT flights of fancy?



Monsters and Heroes

More illustrations of Titans, Mythical Creatures Demigods, and minor gods and goddesses of Olympus from Homer's The Iliad, Appolonius Rhodius' The Argonautika, and others...


Odysseus Isle Cyclops odyssey mythology greek  Roman painting neo classical art   

"Odysseus on the Isle of the Cyclops"

Jason Argonauts argo Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art        

"Jason and the  Argonauts"


Hydra Golden Fleece jason

"The Hydra and the Golden Fleece"

Perseus Medusa krakken Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

"Perseus and Medusa"






atlas titan theseus minotaur crete labyrinth maze Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



"Theseus and the Minotaur"


helen troy iliad trojan war Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art  greek goddess minerva     helen paris iliad Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


"Helen of Troy", "Athena Wachter Von Akropolis" & "Helen and Paris"




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


"Achilles Triumphant" and "The Trojan Horse"    


Achilles Triumphant trojan war iliad Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art





At last a wooden horse was contrived. Odysseus had masterminded a strategy to break the stalemate... 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 and opened the gates, and Troy was taken. The Spartan King Menelaus recovered Helen and   forgave her. She was thought for ages to be merely a part of mythology - partly because of lack of evidence and 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 and academic communities - 

until archaeologists excavated Troy.

Now, The Trojan Horse is one of the Legends of History as well...  for more art and information on this visit the Legends of History or Spartan Warriors Educational Art Galleries...

Spartain warriors Greek Hoplights Phalanx            achilles patroclas iliad Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art          athena minerva acropolis Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


The Greek Heroes~ & also from Homer's The Iliad- "Achilles & Patroclas" aka "The Funeral of Petroclas" &"Athena, Protector of the Acropolis"


amazon warrior Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

"Amazon Warriors"

    The legends of the Mythic Amazons actually have a basis in historical fact according to Herodotus, the Father of History. (The Histories, Book four) He wrote thousands of years ago that the historical Scythian warrior women encountered by the Greeks had the characteristics of the mythical Amazons and they were an amazing tribe of people. (Southern Ukraine, blond haired and blue-eyed according to anthropologists) They wore the same armor as men and used the same weapons but were said to burn the right breast at infancy to make the right arm grow stronger. 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.



The Daughters of Hades

atalanta hades daughter boar hunt Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


macaria daughter hades goddess blessed afterlife cerberous Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art



    Atalanta was the daughter of Hades and grew up in the wilderness. Once, Artemis, goddess of the Hunt (AKA Diana) was forgotten at sacrifice by King Oineus, and became furious and sent a wild boar that terrorized men, cattle and prevented crops from being planted. Atalanta joined many famous heroes on the hunt. Many of the men were angry that a woman was joining the hunt and several of the men were killed before Atalanta was the first to hit the boar and draw blood.



    The "goddess of the blessed afterlife" was also one of the daughters of Hades. She is attributed by some to be the daughter of Persephone but there is no strong proof of this. The blessed afterlife was said to be the opposite of eternal damnation and torment and she was said to be the more forgiving alternative to Thanatos and was said to take part in the journey of souls to the Nesoi Makarioi or "islands of the Blessed" where virtue in life on Earth would be rewarded for eternity.



More goddesses and mythic ladies...


Oracle of delphi history Greek Roman painting neo classical art


Aphrodite Child


Psyche Cupid Garden Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


"The Oracle"


"Aphrodite's Child" 


"Psyche in Cupid's Garden"


Persephone goddess Spring Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art  

Waiting Eros Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


iris goddess rainbow Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art
"Persephone, goddess of Spring" "Waiting for Eros" "Iris, goddess of the Rainbow"


Noteworthy Mortals


Pandora Box Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

Pandora's Box


bellerophon pegasus flying horse Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

Bellerophon and Pegasus


icarus Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art

The Death of Icarus


    Pandora; The first Woman: After Prometheus had stolen fire from heaven and bestowed it upon mortals, Zeus determined to counteract this blessing. He commissioned Hephaestus to fashion a woman out of the Earth and the gods all bestowed upon her their choicest gifts, such as Aphrodite's beauty and powers of seduction. Zeus gave her a jar, the so called "Pandora's Box" secretly containing all the misery and evils of this world. She was forbidden nothing in this world save to open this box. Her curiosity proved too much for her and she opened it, freeing all manner of evil spirits and negative energy. Hope alone remained at the bottom, the lid having been shut down before she escaped.



Mythic creatures... goddesses,  nymphs, and mermaids...



dryad nymph forest woodland Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art           medusa gorgon Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art          Dikē Greek goddess Justice justintia painting Greek mythology Roman neo classical art


"The Dryad" (above left) MMXII mixed media,  "Medusa the Gorgon" (MMXII mixed media) and "Dikē, Greek goddess of Justice" (aka Justintia MMX mixed media)



merman mermaid Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art       merman mermaid Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art          merman mermaid Greek mythology Roman painting neo classical art


Mermaids: "The Ascension" MMXII mixed media (above left) "Neptune's Daughter" MMXVI (center) mixed media "Merbabies" (above right) MMXII mixed media


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


Thank You for Visiting the Paintings of Classical Greek & Roman Mythology Exhibit...

Primary sources (Greek and Roman)
 Aeschylus, "The Persians", Aeschylus, "Prometheus Bound", Apollodorus, "Library and Epitome", Apollonius of Rhodes, "Argonautica, Book I",  Cicero, "De Divinatione" (On the Divination), Herodotus, "The Histories, I", Hesiod, "Works and Days" Translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Homer, Iliad. Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, "Hymn to Demeter" and "Hymn to Hermes" also by Homer, Ovid, "Metamorphoses" and "Pausanias" Plato, "Apology" and "Theaetetus". See free English translations on the web at sites like The Online Medieval and Classical Library, ( The Perseus Project (, Sacred Texts ( and Encyclopedia Mythica (

Artistic Acknowledgements:

         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. 


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

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



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The Realistic Art Galleries of Contemporary American Illustrator Howard David Johnson

Family owned and operated since 1977 and on the World Wide Web since1996!

 With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels & colored pencils, Howard David Johnson 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 * Digital Artistry & Mixed Media * 




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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

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 illustrator 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. His realistic illustrations and artwork have made appearances in every major bookstore and game shop chain in America as well as libraries, periodicals 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 Erich F. Johnson.]


   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.


      What sets Johnson's mythology paintings apart is not only his technical skill but also his profound understanding of the mythological subjects. He researches extensively to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of his representations, paying meticulous attention to historical and cultural details. This dedication to his craft allows him to create paintings that resonate with the mythological essence, evoking a sense of awe and wonder in those who admire his work.  He invites his viewers on a journey through time and space, offering glimpses into the realms of gods, heroes, and fantastical creatures. His ability to capture the spirit of mythology with precision and passion has established him as a revered artist in the field. Johnson's artworks serve as a testament to the enduring power of myths and legends, reminding us of the timeless stories that have shaped our collective imagination. In addition to Greek mythology, Johnson's repertoire extends to various mythologies from around the world. 

~ Grace Solomon   




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centauride female centaur

 "A Centauride" MMXIV 

Mixed Media including Oil Paints & Digital 2D & 3D.

  American Samoa,  Polynesia,  Papua New Guinea,  The Heard and McDonald Islands,  The Philippines,  Guam, Palau,  Cocos Island,  The Kingdom of Tonga,  Malaysia,   Brunei Darussalem,  Pakistan,  Afghanistan, Bhutan,  Bangladesh,  Sri Lanka,  Chagos Islands,  The Republic of Maldives,  Turkmenistan,  Kyrgyzstan,  Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan,   Nepal,  Indonesia,    Aruba,  Venezuela,  Bolivia, Suriname,  Guyana,   The Dominican Republic,  Guatemala,  Costa Rica,  Colombia,  Trinidad and Tobago,   Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados,  The Virgin Islands,  Saint Lucia,   The Netherlands Antilles,  Panama,  Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Grenada, Ecuador,  Belize,   Nicaragua,   El Salvador,   Bermuda,    Cayman Islands,   Anguilla,    The Bahamas,   Honduras,   Mexico,    Madagascar,

and my home, The Great Free State of Idaho...

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




These beautifully printed 11" x 8.5" 74 page paperbacks feature 54 full page interior plates in full color starting at only $14.99 USD. Less than the price of a single poster! Featuring Realistic Mythological and Fairy Art created in a style inspired by Classic Illustrators by American Artist & Photographer Howard David Johnson. 


Click on the covers to order the books from






"Moon goddess Diana" 2008 16" x 12" (Mixed media including colored pencils and acrylic)


Bonus Section:

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


A brief essay by H. D. Johnson


      "As a professional Illustrator I am called upon to illustrate Legends of History and Mythology, Fact and Fantasy, the Sacred and the Profane. In as much as I have endeavored to sort them out accordingly, it has become one of the more fascinating challenges I have ever faced."  ~HDJ

  As I am ever mentioning, the advances of science are constantly giving us a clearer view of the past even causing Mythology to become History as in the case of the Trojan Wars, the legendary Helen of Troy, and the Trojan Horse. The archaeological excavations of Troy may prove the existence of the city of Troy and the Trojan War. They in no way make The Iliad a history book however, because of the un-provable spiritual and religious occurrences in the narrative.

This sorting out of myth and legend from history is no less difficult today because of their intertwining influences on one another.

 Consider as a more recent example of this problem, 20th century American President Theodore Roosevelt. He lives in history because of his heroic charge up San Juan hill with his legendary roughriders. When this story was printed in William Randolph Hearst's newspapers it catapulted him to fame and ushered him into the White House as a glorious American War Hero. Everyone has seen the paintings and statues of Teddy Roosevelt and his roughriders dressed in khaki, mounted on horseback and charging fearlessly forward waving their swords.

         In reality, it was a group of Heroic African American Buffalo Soldiers who took San Juan Hill in spite of their heavy casualties. They did not wear khaki. They were not mounted on horseback, but were foot soldiers in the same dark blue uniforms of the U.S. cavalry as worn during the Indian Wars. Roosevelt's group actually took a nearby Hill against light resistance but Hearst said that would not sell newspapers so he created an American Myth. So as we see, here is something taught to children in schools as history is just not true at all, but yet, this myth shaped the true history of the world in  the 20th century and beyond.

            If Teddy Roosevelt had not been elected president, neither would his nephew, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who provided very real and crucial leadership during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Neither would Theodore Roosevelt have built the Panama Canal or established the conservation of our natural resources. So here we see Modern Myth not only influencing, but creating History. In reality, I perceive Theodore Roosevelt was a much greater president than history gives him credit for. Although it is true his kindness created the "Teddy Bear", He really was also fit and trim, vigorous and active, and a very tough president in his foreign policies. He was instrumental in America's emergence as a world power. It is also true that he came from the upper upper class - old money in New York with a background of great wealth and limitless luxury and chose to be an outdoorsman, a cowboy, and soldier. When he was given office, he embraced the concept of being a good Shepherd , of seeking justice for all Americans - for this he was called a "traitor to his class".

         Actually, he is the savior of his class. In my estimation, it is President Theodore Roosevelt who is most responsible for the end of the then imminent threat of communist revolution or takeover in America. Throughout the early 20th century Socialist Revolutions were sweeping across the globe. Conditions for the workers in America were appalling. Child Labor, dangerous working conditions, ungodly long hours, degradation, and shockingly low pay. When Karl Marx wrote his "Communist Manifesto" he never dreamed of an affluent MIDDLE class. A middle class that is comfortable and savoring, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not going to rise up in murderous anger and "Storm the Bastile". What Global Communism could not contend with was America's happy and prosperous middle class. Theodore Roosevelt practically invented America's affluent middle class and eliminated the threat of Communist revolution in America.  Although he was well loved, he was also hated and caught tremendous heat from the wealthy elite for sharing a small portion of their wealth with the common man. He saved them from a Second American Revolution by customizing capitalism to a kinder, gentler form than the horrors of the late 19th century. Like General Winfield Scott, who won The American Civil War before it started, he defeated his foes with an idea. If the Robber Barons had had their way, their greed could well have caused America to fall to communism. Today, we have a new generation of robber barons but no Teddy to stand up for the little guys. I feel the true history about American President Theodore Roosevelt is more amazing than the myth, but they are interwoven and inseparable, without the one, we would not have the other. He was both a glorious and a tragic figure. As a leader and as a man I believe he is badly underestimated. It was only when his beloved son, nicknamed "Quinnykins" died fighting in World War One that he finally saw through all the myths and glamour to see the awful truth about war face on. He never got over his guilt for glorifying war to his son. We could all learn a lot from his experiences.

          War costs money...trillions of dollars. War takes human lives...millions of them! War makes children old, breaks parent's hearts, kills morale. War destroys cities, art treasures, civilization! The first world war alone cost thirty million lives and 4 trillion dollars when adjusted to the buying power of modern U.S. dollars. With the money at the time we could have built a three bedroom two bath house furnished with fine hardwood furniture on five acres of quality land for every family in The United States, Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany and Russia. There would have been enough left to build and stock a first class library and a proper university in every town of 20,000 people or more. Out of the balance we could pay the salaries for life of 125,000 teachers and 125,000 nurses. The remaining balance could have bought 1919 Belgium and France and everything in them.

           I see History as an endless waltz. Three beats over and over. War, Peace, and Revolution. Three beats over and over in an endless cycle of death, destruction, and regeneration. An Endless Waltz... and those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to dance this deadly waltz and pay this Frightful price for War. As modern technology such as jet aircraft and thermonuclear missiles make the world smaller & more dangerous everyday, tolerating each other's racial, social, & religious differences & living together in peace has now become key to the continued survival of mankind through the 21st century. We all know the quote from Satayana: "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it" but after the events of the early 21st century I am reminded of a saying from Murphy's Law: " Those who DO study history are doomed to sit by helplessly and watch while idiots repeat it". Heaven help us.

~H D Johnson MMXII



"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.

"The Dragon Níðhöggr" MMXI mixed Media

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 favorite 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)

pencil portrait 0002.jpg (26522 bytes)

( Unblended Spectracolor pencils on # 400 Strathmore Bristol board )

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.

        HDJ's Mythic Art creations take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as West Side Story came from Romeo and Juliet. 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? Thomas Nast's Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Pablo Picasso without African art? Public domain appropriators, one and all. HDJ accepts select commissions to paint custom oil paintings with down payments starting at only one thousand dollars. He grants permission for most educational purposes simply for the asking. To use his existing realistic art works outside the classroom he offers low cost license offers starting around $100.00.

Use the  e-mail links above or below to contact him...


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

Thank You for Visiting Howard David Johnson's World of Mythical Art...


Bonus Section:

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

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)

    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 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 Numérica)

"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.

Essay Two : 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.

Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield (Danish Cover)

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 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. ~ HDJ


Thank You for Visiting the Paintings of Greek & Roman Mythology Exhibit of Howard David Johnson...