Who is American Illustrator Howard David Johnson?
~ a Brief Biography of the artist
"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.
MYTHOLOGY AND FOLKLORE
Enter a world of Beauty and Imagination...
INDEX of GALLERIES ~ LINKS to LARGER ART
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!
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.
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.
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...
Thank you for Visiting... Your business, letters, & links are always welcome.
What is YOUR definition of Art?
Essay One; On Realistic Art:
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME...
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
HOWARD DAVID JOHNSON'S 2oo3 ESSAY ON THE REBIRTH OF REALISM
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|
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. )