Who is American Illustrator Howard David Johnson?

He is a contemporary realistic visual artist and teacher 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. His web gallery features many examples
 of his Artwork, including traditional illustration, portraiture, photography, experimentalism, and fine art

~ a Brief Biography of the artist

A traditional-style portrait of the artist as he is today (photo by son Erich)   




  Howard David Johnson was born in  Mötsch, in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany near the now closed Bitburg Air Force Base on September 2, 1954. The son of an American Career Air Force officer and College Professor, he grew up traveling and living on military bases around the world, inspired and influenced by the art, architecture and culture in the Mediterranean & Central Europe. Drawing and painting every available moment of his childhood while experiencing the old world, he worked with any and all art mediums he could get his hands on. 

     He devoted his life to art at the age of six in spite of stubborn opposition from his father, who insisted that earning a living as an artist was absolutely impossible. This dynamic conflict shaped his life and forged his driving motivation. His mother worried that practicing with such passion and driving motivation (4 - 12 hours most days) was sure to hurt him in the long run. His father feared he would end up like both of their namesake, David's great uncle Howard who fought in nearly every island combat against the Japanese in the Pacific War. Howard came home a war hero and his heart's desire was to be an illustrator and when he found a tough job market instead, took his own life. David's father never told him the real reason for his violent opposition to an art career until later in life, and upon hearing this, David began using his full name, Howard David Johnson.



His Mother Louise Franklin Johnson, a talented artist herself, always encouraged him and never missed an opportunity to take him along to a site or a museum to acquaint him with his Old World Traditional spiritual and cultural heritage along the way. While being evacuated from Libya during the Six Day War, his father pulled strings to get him sent back to his birthplace in Germany. The forests and charming villages with their winding cobblestone streets and picturesque mountains crowned with castles mingled with the Roman ruins he played in in the Sahara Desert and set his imagination on fire with the romance of his heritage. It was there and then that the seeds his mother planted took root and he had an epiphany about his mission as an artist that has shaped his life to this day. 

    He attended the College of Fine Art at the University of Texas in Austin where he met his wife and settled down. Inspired by the genealogical novels of American authors, Johnson has gone after the "roots" of his Anglo-Celtic Heritage (Scots-Irish and Germanic) and found, that, although much neglected and now endangered it is a rich heritage indeed - and that there are many other cultural and spiritual heritages to share, explore, celebrate and preserve through the visual arts.

    He is a of direct line ancestor of Mary, Queen of Scots, of  Robert the Bruce & the elder William Brewster (the preacher on the Mayflower). His mother, an internationally renowned genealogical expert and historical author documented his lineage for the Sons of the American Revolution, The Sons of the Republic of Texas, The Sons of the Confederate Veterans and other religious and  patriotic organizations of which she held various offices in their female counterparts.

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As a boy exploring Roman ruins of Leptis Magna near Tripoli Libya, in North Africa

(1965 photo by his mother Louise)

     His passions include his family and philosophy, art and education. He is also an avid outdoorsman and committed to good citizenship. He passed this on by working twelve years with inner city lower income youth as a Boy Scout Master and Commissioner. His hobbies include reading classic literature, art, and history books, as well as collecting films and music. He earns his living selling licenses to publish his works and taking on select commissions in various kinds of media, retailing archival reprints of his work and teaching art at the Brandywine School which he founded in 1996. David & his beloved wife Virginia, (also descended from Mary, Queen of Scots) is also a teacher and visual artist. He lives a reclusive lifestyle in The Treasure Valley in Idaho and also has two grown sons, Erich who is also a University of Texas graduate and certified teacher and Christian, both talented artists and photographers in their own right. Currently David is expanding his catalogue of illustrations of our Western Cultural heritage, including mythology, folklore, religion and the legends of history in mixed media and oils on canvas.


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A portrait of the artist as a young man (1982 photo)



Howard David Johnson the illustrator has a solid background in the natural sciences and history, beginning his career as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas at Austin School of Paleontology in 1974. He works in a wide variety of mixed media ranging from oil on canvas to digital media. After a lifetime of drawing and painting, his Traditional Media Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London in 1996, as well as numerous American ones since, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His illustrations have made appearances in most of the major bookstores and game shop chains in America as well as in libraries, educational texts and magazines 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, MGM, Warner Brothers Home Video, ABC/ Disney, Paramount Studios, Universal Studios, CBS TV, PBS TV, The History Channel, Enslow Educational Publishers, Adobe Photoshop, Auto FX, Tree-Free Greeting, Verizon wireless, Apple IPOD, Doubleday (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 just to name a few.  https://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304707604577426072268788062.html

   Working in a variety of media he offers his customers a variety of options and more than three decades of experience. As an illustrator David has not only used the computer but has been involved in the development and marketing of software for Adobe Photoshop. His illustrations have reached the four corners of the Earth, gracing books, magazines, motion pictures and television shows, cards, candles, coins, record albums, video, board and card games, and have been used for posters, calendars, murals, large marble statues and miniatures as well as appearing on thousands of websites. His website gets millions of hits collectively from every country on Earth. He started the Brandywine School and began teaching the tenets of classical realism in 1996 because he saw so much evidence that Academia had abandoned them. He has had over a thousand students enroll.

    Digital art, Colored pencils, Pastels, Mixed media, and also Oil Paintings can be commissioned for select projects and he is easy to contact.  He delivers these custom made copyright free illustrations and old fashioned customer service very quickly when he does work-for-hire. To publish his existing works licenses start at only $100.00 with same day delivery via the internet and his gallery also sells premium archival quality reprints.


by Virginia Solomon Johnson et al









With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels and colored pencils, David now embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his depictions of fantasy art, 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 * and last but not least: 2d &3d Digital Artistry & Mixed Media *  Because of the use of photography in nearly everything he does, even David's all-oil paintings can be termed mixed media.*



         guardian angel painting mintor protector




"Faerie Guardians" (above left) is an illustration from Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and is rendered in oil on canvas. "Pandora's Box" - Oil on canvas. 

"Sleeping Beauty" (above right) is from the Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm and is also rendered in oil on panel.



"Ezekiel's Vision" MMX (left) "The Lamb of GOD" and "The Angels of Forgiveness" MMX (right) were rendered in mixed Media



"Valkyrie Maiden" (above left) is an illustration from Norse Mythology in digital mixed media and is inspired by Van Dyck. "The Coming of Brunhilde" is an illustration more inspired by the Ring Cycle

a series of four operas in the 1860's by Richard Wagner; The song of the Nibelung:The Rhiengold, The Valkyrie, Sigfried, and The Twilight of the gods.

King Arthur + Sir Lancelot Jousting   Dragon Art Green winged dragon fighting Knights King Arthur   The Lady in the Lake from the King Arthur Legends   




Enter a world of Beauty and Imagination...


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

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

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Angel Art King Arthur Norse Mythology Greek Mythology Legends of History Fantasy Art Celtic Mythology Great Religions  Mythic Women Fairy Paintings Asian Mythology Russian Mythology
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Mermaid Art  History Part Two

Classic Fairy Tales

History of Dragons Pencil Portraits I Studio Photography Colored Pencils II

Art Instruction

Realistic Paintings Pre-Raphaelite Art Legendary Women Warrior Women
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The Art of War  Mythic Creatures About Realistic Art Science Fiction Art Beautiful Women Art NuVeau  Fantasy Pin ups Fairy Lore Flower Fairies

Spartan Warriors

 Lost Atlantis   Lady of Shallot
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Catholic Art  Art of the Bible Symbolist Art Surrealist Art Commercial Art Business Center Style & Technique  Biographical Paintings in Oils ELVES Digital Techniques Dinosaur Art

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 www.howarddavidjohnson.com/permission.htm


Style and Technique

   The various galleries linked to by the icons above show many examples of David's Surrealistic Art, and are grouped by theme rather than media. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters. Using a strategy employed by J. W. Waterhouse (The old master David admires 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. To create his work, he usually starts with a thematic concept, then working in his Photography studio with live models. 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. For this he offers no apology as many of the greatest artists in history employed any and all means of technology at their disposal such as Camera Obscura or even the evil manufactured tube paints. See his article below: "On Art and Technology: When Seeing is Not Believing" An essay dealing with mechanical aids to visual art from Camera Obscura to Computers for more on this.

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The digital montage is a natural evolution of the preliminary photo collage David learned from great Realistic illustrators like Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell. You'd think by now everything would have been tried but it hasn't. Exploring new art mediums is just as exciting today, just as full of freshness and newness as it ever been. For decades he has sought out the most beautiful models and brought them in for sessions in his photography studio. Using a strategy employed by J.W. Waterhouse, the old master HDJ imitates most- see Helen of Troy ( a recognizable tribute ) and The Messenger ( in the spirit of Waterhouse ) both featuring Grace- his wistful and graceful models cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the stunning beauty and the potential for lasting appeal of his work. Their last names are withheld to protect them from stalkers & other internet predators.
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  His favorite medium for traditional realistic art used to be 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 most recently, the highly controversial digital media. As a commercial illustrator Johnson has not only used the computer to create art but has been involved in the development and marketing of computer imaging software for Adobe Photoshop. Working in a realistic style inspired by classic illustrators HDJ 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. 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 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 artist. Computers have not diminished his love of working in traditional media. He loves to draw portraits from his own photographs as well as using them to create illustrations in various media. Since 1974 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...This site features realistic paintings & pictures for the twenty-first Century including some oil paintings, as well as 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 he offers his customers a host of payment and product options. He delivers the rights to these custom made copyright free realistic illustrations and old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire. 


Licensing existing art is a very inexpensive way to get a striking cover, starting at only $99.USD...

   Examples of cover illustrations for historical romance novels (above) and finished book covers (below)...

David works from writer's notes to faithfully realize their visions when he does all new custom cover art...


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

And also selling low cost licenses for cover art using existing pieces like these which were easily adapted...





Helen of Troy ( below) is an example of "personal work", done on Prismacolor pencils...

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                         2005 version                                                                                                                          2014 version           






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 once at that size and can be delivered in as little as 60-90 days

 Every original comes with a signed dated Certificate of Authenticity. 

Write for current availability and pricing:







Many of Johnson's Digital Mixed Media creations displayed in this site are available to be rendered in oil on canvas like the 20x16 oil on canvas Faerie Guardians 2006 (below middle). Each design will only be rendered in oil once at this size and can be delivered in as little as 90 days. Sadly, much of the subtlety, vibrance, lustre and impact of an original oil painting is lost when it is scanned and imported to digital media or even printed by a master printer. Nothing can compare to an original oil painting viewed in person in my opinion but the other painting media like digital (above left) look VERY good in print and have their charms and distinct advantages as well.  

You can e-mail for more details at:  


"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... if you 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?"

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


ALL HALLOWS EVE rendered in oil on 20x16 canvas (right) features the lovely Ann Bratton as 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 2,000.00 USD prices are very low...

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



Many pieces are currently available, mostly 11x14-13x16 inch Prismacolor Paintings (like Helen of Troy) and pencil portraits (like Arriba #2) followed in number by Acrylic, Prismacolor and pastel mixed media all on #400 Strathmore Bristol Board ranging from $700.00-$1400. 00 USD and Oil Paintings on canvas ranging from $1999.00 - 10,000.00 USD.  Pieces that have never been rendered in oil can be commissioned in 16x20 inch size on canvas for 50% down and delivered in under 90 days with signed certificates of authenticity aka legal documents pledging never to render it in that size and media again to ensure premium collectability and investment potential.

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.  

This Art Gallery has been honored by more than 35,000,000 Unique Visitors 

from the Four Corners of the Earth

My Friends from around the world thus far :

England,   Canada,   Scotland,   Wales,   Ireland,   Germany,   France,   Monaco,   Andorra,   Italy,   The Vatican City State,  Greece,  Macedonia,  Cyprus,  Turkey,  Belgium,  Denmark,  The Faroe Islands,  Greenland,  Yugoslavia, Macedonia,  Croatia,  The Czech Republic,  Bosnia,  Herzegovina,  Slovakia,  Slovenia,  Luxembourg,  Latvia,  Estonia, Hungary,  Bulgaria,  Lithuania,  Poland,  Austria,  Romania,  Spain,  The Russian Federation,   Ukraine,   Kazakhstan, Moldova,  Malta,  Iceland,  Finland,  Norway,  Netherlands,  Switzerland,  Liechtenstein,  Sweden,  Portugal,  Albania, Armenia, Georgia,  Azerbaijan,  Belarus,  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,  Uganda,   Kenya,  Eritrea,  Tanzania,  Botswana, Malawi,  Senegal,  Djibouti,  Cameroon,  Chad,  Gambia,  Mozambique,  Swaziland,  Lesotho,  South Africa,  Seychelles,   Viet Nam, Japan,  South Korea,  China,  Hong Kong,  Macau,  Mongolia,  Mauritius,  Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia,  Laos,   Myanmar,  Macau,  Malaysia,  Taiwan,  Nuie,  New Zealand,  Fiji,  Cook Islands,  New Caledonia,  Vanuatu,  American Samoa,  Australia,  Micronesia,  Polynesia,  Papua New Guinea,  The Heard and McDonald Islands,  The Philippines, Guam, Palau,  Cocos Island,  The Kingdom of Tonga,  Malaysia,   Brunei Darussalem,  India,   Pakistan,   Afghanistan, Bhutan,  Bangladesh,  Sri Lanka,  Chagos Islands,  The Republic of Maldives,  Turkmenistan,  Kyrgyzstan,  Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan,   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,  Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Grenada, Ecuador,  Belize,   Nicaragua,   El Salvador,   Bermuda,  Cuba,  Jamaica,  Dominica,  Haiti,  Puerto Rico,  Cayman Islands,   Anguilla,    The Bahamas,   Honduras,   Mexico,    Madagascar, Central African Republic,   Gabon,   San Marino,  Saint Kitts & Nevis Anguilla,   Azerbaidjan,   Burkina Faso,   and my home, The Great Free State of Idaho (USA)...

I believe that's every nation on Earth but if your home is not listed here please e-mail and tell us where you're from...


We love hearing from you! Your business, letters & links are always welcome. E-mail for courteous service...

Thank you for Visiting... Your  business, letters, & links are always welcome.






  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. Personally I LOVE computers! 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... but now it is so easy I usually don't even charge extra to adapt them if its just skies or landscapes! Re-dos and revisions were financially catastrophic! No wonder the starving artist became a stereotype! Before the internet, I struggled to find customers in Austin Texas, now nearly every nation on Earth has visited my website! This was beyond my wildest imaginings as a boy. What an amazing era we live in! I love it!!!

~ Howard David Johnson




Thank you for Visiting... Your  business, letters, & links are always welcome.

What is YOUR definition of Art?

Essay One; On Realistic Art:


A Brief essay dealing with attitudes toward Traditional Realistic Paintings, Pastels, Colored Pencils and today's Digital Art 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, combined with a general lack of public education, I contend that a broader definition of painting is needed than that which is found in common usage.

  Hliðskjálf the high seat of Odin

        In addition to his mastery of traditional realistic art 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 Numérique in 21st century paintings and pictures. Announcing Art Numérique -an exciting merger of traditional visual art and cutting edge technology... a new art form for the twenty- first century... Art Numérique is not limited to realistic art but also offers limitless horizons for everything from cartoons to abstractions. It is the most dramatic development in the visual arts since the Renaissance. In the words of Al Jolson in the movie world's first talking picture" You ain't seen nothin' yet!"


       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...

       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 exhibition...an 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?

~Howard David Johnson 2002


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


Art, Philosophy, and Art Philosophy: Essay 0002

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Personal Opinion Essays on  HISTORY,   MYTH,  MORALITY,  &  ART yesterday and today by the artist.


"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 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. His web site features
many examples of his Realistic Art, including illustration, photography, experimentalism, and fine art

Essay Two

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

More thoughts on realistic art yesterday and today by the artist

    Art History has entered a new era with the birth of 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 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.

~ Howard David Johnson MMII

( These essays are never meant to offend, but to spur thought and democratic debate in a spirit of fun. )