"Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra", "Daniel the Prophet in the Lion's Den" and "The Maiden in the Tower"
"Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra" is my salute to the great Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jane Morris, his most beloved model... I searched high and low for a model with wavy hair like hers and "Young Rapunzel" or "The Maiden in the Tower" is a nod to the preponderance of detail in the Original preraphalites' works and "Daniel in the Lion's Den" is also in keeping with the Pre-Raphaelite Tradition to do historical and religious subjects..."
"Return with your shield or on it" MMX (Not even a Spartan MOTHER could forgive cowardice) "The Archangel Raphael" is my tribute to the Pre-Raphaelite Art of Edward Burne-Jones and is also inspired by the great Gustaf Moreau, Symbolism: I'm sure professional art history and spirituality experts will notice the ghost images of the Sephiroth tree in this image right away."Helen of Troy" is my loving tribute to my favorite Pre-Raphaelite, John William Waterhouse and studies from his "Miriamne at the Judgement seat of Herod"
~Howard David Johnson
Enter a world of Beauty and Imagination...
and "Into the Lake of Fire" MMX. Of course these works are in keeping with the Pre-Raphaelite tradition to do religious and historical themes. This one is influenced by heavily by Delville, and borrows from Bougereau and Leighton. It is a Pre-Raphaelite style illustration from The Book of Revelation Ch. 20: "The Dragon that old serpent, that is the Devil, cast in the Lake of Fire"
"Lilly Evans" MMXI Mixed Media including Oil on Canvas, 3D studio Max and Adobe Photoshop (Above) "Lilly" is the first illustration David has created that incorporates images created in 3D Studio Software. The possibilities that these computer programs combined with traditional media and techniques present to the art world staggers the imagination...
More 3D studio combined with traditional media and Adobe Photoshop in "Merbabies" (above left)
(below) "Athene, goddess of wisdom and Justice" MMIX was created in traditional oils on 20 X 16 canvas. Below: Atalanta and Artemis (2010) Mixed Media:
"The Lady of Shalott" (2010 Mixed Media) This painting by is inspired by the poem by Tennyson, the Pre-Raphaelite painting of the same name by John William Waterhouse and borrows from the Honorable John Collier.
towered Camelot; And by the moon the reaper weary,
'The Lady Kriemhilde', 'The Fairy Circle' and 'The Messenger (above) were all rendered in Prismacolor Colored Pencils... 'Prismacolor Paintings' if you will - because this kind of picture is not at all what comes to mind when people hear the word 'drawing'. These relatively new soft oil based colored pencils are not the first Dry Painting Medium: the term 'Pastel Paintings' originated in the 17th century. Themes from Celtic and Greek Mythology are below...
Did you know that many of the breathtaking works of Pre-Raphaelite Art done in oil on canvas and panel in the 1800’s were declared not to be Art? Not just not fine art but not art at all. In London the Royal Academy had a very narrow view as to what qualified. No wonder Rossetti led a rebellion against them. The Rough treatment of many Pre-Raphaelite greats like the Honorable John Collier for what they termed "indecency" was unjust at best.
With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels & colored pencils, Howard David Johnson embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his 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 *
"ALL HALLOWS EVE" Rendered first in Digital, then Colored Pencils, and finally in oil paints on Canvas
"Although I love Rossetti and all the other Pre- Raphaelite artists dearly, none of the Pre- Raphaelite Brotherhood has influenced me more visibly than John William Waterhouse. Helen of Troy is my loving tribute to him, his vision, and his magnificent and deeply inspirational works. ( My life and artistic vision are patterned after and inspired by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but the actual appearance of my works are more patterned after those of J W Waterhouse.)
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."
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are always welcome.
Your business, letters, & links are always welcome.
Personal Opinion Essays on Realistic Art yesterday and today by the artist and more Art.
21st Century Pre-Raphaelite Art Exhibition; essays by the artist...
"Over the last 300 years, ideas about female beauty have drastically changed and this has caused many of the most wonderful paintings of the old masters to seem 'ugly' to youthful modern audiences. In the days of Peter Paul Rubens, being forty to sixty pounds over-weight was considered not only attractive, but was a status symbol. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and tastes have clearly changed. These new visual art creations take their inspiration in part from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as The Lord of the Rings comes from The Ring of the Nibelung and European folklore, West Side Story came from Romeo and Juliet, which was in turn inspired by Antony and Cleopatra. 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. Even though all my Realistic Paintings are legally new works and protected under copyright law their inspiration sometimes comes in part from works in the public domain.
The Resurrection of Christ MMX
public domain is a space where intellectual property protection (
copyright ) does not apply. When copyrights and patents expire,
innovations and creative works fall into the public domain. They may
then be used by anyone without permission and without the payment of a
licensing fee. My sources have been transformed so much in the creation
of these new works of art that they would not violate an existing
copyright even if they were so protected. Publicly owned national parks
are also considered by many to be public domain lands.
Because of the recent extensions of the terms of both copyrights and patents, and the privatization of lands and other resources owned by the Federal Government, little is now entering the public domain. Look for new litigation and another time extension when Disney Corporation's Mickey Mouse copyright is due to expire in 2023. 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? Picasso without African art? These are artists who made names for themselves and even fortunes through Public Domain appropriation, one and all.
Beethoven did "variations on a theme" with the works of Mozart for the same reasons I have done mine with Waterhouse- to learn and give homage to the artist who most inspired me. Since the public domain is a treasure trove of information and resources to be used by future generations, many advocates are concerned that its stagnation will make it more and more difficult for future generations to find creative inspiration.
Art tradition and etiquette suggest the most influential should be mentioned at exhibits; these original new pieces shown in this exhibit take their inspiration in part from the paintings of Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, Moreau, Bouguereau, Leighton, Godward, Bloch, Ingres, Moore, Church, Rackham and others. They showcase some of my favorite models. None of my work so closely resembles the inspiration as much as Helen of Troy: a deliberately obvious tribute to my most beloved master- John William Waterhouse; and is after his "Miriamne leaving the judgement seat of Herod" The interior chamber with it's domed ceiling, King Herod on his throne, the eight man judiciary council of the San Hedrin, the tablets of the law and many other details are missing and in their places many new things are added. In Helen of Troy, new elements include Grace as the model, her jewelry and gown ornaments, the view of the sea going off into the distance in a deep perspective, the bas relief carvings, the ivy urn, the sphinx head, the flowers, the new floor, and the polished marble columns. When all is said and done, only the stairs, the lion's body and the basic outline of the gown have not been changed beyond all recognition. My Helen of Troy: the face that launched a thousand ships; shows instead her seeing the approaching sea lights of her husband Spartan King Menelaus' amphibious invasion fleet. (From Homer's The Iliad)
As a student of fine art, copying is a great way to learn and create fine art, but as a professional illustrator copyright laws make things very different... My art is divided into two groups; personal work partially copying the old masters and professional illustration applying these lessons to create totally original works. I start more often with a specific written request. This is the exact OPPOSITE approach to creating a picture from copying something that's there. Research comes first. In the case of the Greek Heroes, ( above right ) there were no accurate sources in the public domain to copy correct Greek armour and weapons in combat poses from. Mostly I found images of effeminate men, wearing nothing but a robe over the shoulder and the wrong helmets. Finding history books at the library with the accurate helmets, shield designs, weapons, and armour was essential to get an accurate depiction of a Greek Hoplite. All the library had were stiff museum poses of anything. I hit the research jackpot with some very simplistic flat line drawings of great authentic Greek shield designs. All the elements must be found, gathered and assembled to create the dramatic action scene the client wanted. Next comes the layout. This is where the mathematics and geometric design enter the creative process. My wife Virginia took a picture of me nearly twenty years ago on a carpentry project with the heroic Kirby-esque pose I was looking for mixed with the texture and feel of a Frazetta or Rockwell painting. Naturally, in these cases I go to great lengths to make sure that my work looks nothing like it's various inspirations and sources except in spirit. When asked why I usually work from photos I like to re-tell Norman Rockwell's story about having to paint a chicken: He set it up on a stump in a barn and goes to painting. The chicken moves it's head. He moves it back. The chicken jumps down. He puts it back. He goes to paint. now the chicken decides to make a break for it... he chases it down clucking and screaming and puts it back. Now it knows he's going to have it for dinner and it goes completely berserk. The next day, he came in and set the chicken back, snapped it's picture, and the photo held nice and still."
~ Howard David Johnson MMIV
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.
you know that many of the breathtaking works Pre-Raphaelites were doing
in the 1800’s were declared not to be Art? Not just not fine art but
not even art at all! In London the Royal Academy had a
very narrow view as to what qualified. No wonder Rossetti led a
How about other Art Styles? Impressionism is a great example; It was not enough that these institutions rejected the work, but they felt the need to destroy the person’s reputation and livelihood. Of course collectors pay millions for these Impressionistic paintings now, and Curators, Historians and Professional Art Critics all hail them as sensitive works of fine art. When Monet submitted his work to the Salon in Paris, they said" A monkey has gotten a hold of a set of paints" and would paint huge "R"s for "rejected on the back canvas.
Rejecting him was not enough for them. They wanted to be sure he never sold another picture. They wanted to hurt him and his family for sick sadistic pleasure. He got really good at re-stretching his canvas with a double layer to cover up their hateful defacement of his original art.
They saw themselves as powerful as the deadly committee for public safety in the French Revolution as far as the Art World went and delighted in "sending artists to the guillotine", so to speak.
petty tyrants were unable to keep his name out of the history books or
his paintings for selling for millions of dollars. This is the
who creates a new style gets, but developments in applied technology
manufactured tube paints as opposed to hand mixed paints were violently
by these types as well and they forcefully proclaimed anyone who used
from a tube was not a "real artist". Well, tube paints are pretty well
accepted now. So will photography and digital media in time. You
probably know how bad Photographers were
treated, but now it is a
Form. I Remember the hateful things they said about Pastels and Mary
now Pastel Paintings are considered Fine Art and Mary Cassat’s works
are regarded as masterpieces. Now that snobs have Digital Artists to
look down on, Colored Pencils are starting to get some respect. Our day
~ Howard David Johnson 2006
Thank you for visiting the Pre- Raphaelite and Symbolist Art Gallery of Howard David Johnson...
STYLE and TECHNIQUE
"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 Vision of Christ the King" MMXVII
The Johnson Galleries exhibit many examples of his belated Pre-raphaelite Art, mostly beautiful serene women in fabulous flowing gowns inspired by Rossetti and Waterhouse, but he also does religious and historical themes. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters, most especially the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Using a strategy employed by J.W. Waterhouse (The old master David has imitated 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.
His lifelong dream came true when his Arthurian Pre-Raphaelite Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London England in 1996. In addition to this traditional media exhibit, 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 visual artist. 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 Pre-Raphaelite 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. On his existing works his low cost license offers start at only 100 dollars.
Essays and articles on Art and Art philosophy yesterday and today.
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
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)
Essay One:"THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME..."
(A Brief essay dealing with attitudes toward Traditional Realistic Paintings, Pastels, Colored Pencils and Art Numérica)
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 21st century Pre-Raphaelite Art in 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 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 movie world's first talking picture" You ain't seen nothin' yet!"
"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"
"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
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...
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 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 even certain Pre-Raphaelite artists 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.
Thank you for visiting the Contemporary Pre- Raphaelite and Symbolist Art Gallery of H D Johnson...
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.
Photography, Drawing, Painting and Digital media combined
|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
Copyright Law and the Visual Arts in the Computer Age
An introduction to the Millennial Copyright Act for Artists
A brief essay on 21st century legal boundaries, guidelines, and western art traditions by the artist
"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. Since the public domain is a treasure trove of information and resources to be used by future generations, many advocates are concerned that its stagnation through lawsuits will make it more and more difficult for future generations to find creative inspiration."
"All art is ultimately some form of imitation, even if you are an expressionist painter imitating an abstract vision in your own mind. These new visual art creations of mine take their inspiration in part from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as The Lord of the Rings comes from The Ring of the Nibelung and European folklore and West Side Story came from Romeo and Juliet, which was in turn inspired by Antony and Cleopatra. Much as Rubens copied Titian, I copy Waterhouse and so on. Over the last 300 years, ideas about female beauty have drastically changed and this has caused many of the most wonderful paintings of the old masters to seem 'ugly' to youthful modern audiences. For example, in the days of Peter Paul Rubens, being forty to sixty pounds over-weight was considered not only attractive, but was a status symbol. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and tastes have clearly changed. I feel many classic themes need to be redone to preserve interest and appeal for future generations. This has happened many times before as artists like Aesop, The Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney have appropriated, modified, and re-defined elements of our culture to preserve it for future generations. The legality of such use today depends on whether or not the source is protected by copyright law. You can draw or paint Shakespeare's fairies for example and publish them without permission but not more modern intellectual properties like characters from Star Wars or Mickey Mouse who holds the oldest copyright dating from 1928.
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. Even though all my Realistic Paintings are legally new works and protected under copyright law their inspiration sometimes comes in part from works in the public domain.
The public domain is a space where intellectual property protection ( copyright ) does not apply. When copyrights and patents expire, innovations and creative works fall into the public domain. They may then be used by anyone without permission and without the payment of a licensing fee. My sources have been transformed so much in the creation of these new works of art that they would not violate an existing copyright even if they were so protected. Publicly owned national parks are also considered by many to be public domain lands. Because of the recent extensions of the terms of both copyrights and patents, and the privatization of lands and other resources owned by the Federal Government, little is now entering the public domain. Look for new litigation and another time extension when Disney Corporation's Mickey Mouse copyright is due to expire in 2023. 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? Picasso without African art? These are artists who made names for themselves and even fortunes through Public Domain appropriation, one and all.
Some people are actually outraged that there are some intellectual properties that corporations do not own. They feel appropriation is only appropriate if a corporation does it. Corporations created by public domain appropriation, now are the most powerful force on Earth trying to put a stop to new things entering the public domain forever through lawsuits. The public domain is a space where intellectual property protection ( copyright ) does not apply. It was set up by our founding fathers, who felt creativity needed to be rewarded on a personal level for a time, and when copyrights and patents expired, innovations and creative works would fall into the public domain.
Since the public domain is a treasure trove of information and resources to be used by future generations, many advocates are concerned that its stagnation will make it more and more difficult for future generations to find creative inspiration. This is least likely to hurt the motion picture companies who produce new works "in house" granting themselves permission, but the music industry which brings in artists and new songs from the outside is being hit very hard already. If a new song release resembles an old one, now there is litigation. Visual Art Tradition and etiquette suggest the most influential pieced borrowed from the public domain should be mentioned at exhibits; these original new pieces Shown in my exhibits take their inspiration in part from the paintings of Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, Moreau, Bouguereau, Leighton, Ingres, Moore, Parrish, Rackham and others. They showcase some of my favorite models. As a student of fine art, copying is a great way to learn and create fine art, but as a professional illustrator things are very different. Works done by artists out of personal motivation belong to the artist who created them, and they can sell licenses for divers forms of publication. The law is clear and simple regarding illustrations done for gainful employment. They are called "work-for-hire" under the law, and the rights to such works envisioned by the customer and specifically commissioned and paid for belong exclusively to the customer if it is a team project like a video game or motion picture and the artist must specifically ask permission to ever legally use their own work themselves. When the artist is the sole creator of the project as in book and magazine illustration for example, the artist retains the benefits of ownership unless they specifically sign them away.
My art is divided into two distinct groups; personal work partially copying the old masters and professional illustration applying these lessons to create totally original works. I start more often with a specific written request. This is the exact OPPOSITE approach to creating a picture from copying something that's there.
Research comes first. In the case of my illustration of the Spartan Warriors, there were no accurate sources in the public domain to copy correct Greek armor and weapons in combat poses from. Mostly I found images of effeminate men, wearing nothing but a robe over the shoulder and the wrong helmets. Finding history books at the library with the accurate helmets, shield designs, weapons, and armor was essential to get an accurate depiction of a Greek Hoplite. All the library had were stiff museum poses of anything, but I hit the research jackpot with some very simplistic flat line drawings of great authentic Greek shield designs.
All the elements must be found, gathered and assembled to create the dramatic action scene the client wanted. Next comes the layout. This is where the mathematics and geometric design come into the creative process. My wife, Virginia took a picture of me nearly twenty years ago on a carpentry project with the heroic Jack Kirby like pose I was looking for mixed with the texture and feel of a Frank Frazetta or Norman Rockwell painting. Naturally, in these cases I go to great lengths to make sure that my work looks nothing whatsoever like it's various inspirations and sources except in flavor and spirit. Of course, the characteristic old master's painting feel to the background most of my illustrations have was requested, and the picture was to have the flavor of a Howard Pyle painting.
With regards to use of mechanical aids to create art: Did you know the old masters often traced? Leonardo Da Vinci used "Camera Obscura" which is a lens and a mirror set at an angle with parchment over it to trace onto. Michaelangelo used a similar technique. The use of Photography as a mechanical aid to oil paintings and other forms of realistic art came right away. This is not surprising since artists had been tracing from Camera Obscura for thousands of years. Famous Myths; Leonardo Da Vinci (1452- 1519 ) is often credited with the invention of Camera Obscura because he used it for his masterworks during the Renaissance and mentioned it in his notebooks, but this is simply not true. Similarly, Americans are credited with the camera, but it is also not true. Unlike the camera, the inventor and time of invention of Camera Obscura are unknown. Perhaps a crude form of it was known to the ancient Greeks, but there is no evidence for this. The mathematical precision and perfect anatomy of Greek art combined with their passionate love of science and mathematics is enough for many scholars. The earliest description of Camera Obscura occurs in the great optical treatise of the Islamic scientist Al-Hazen who died at Cairo, Egypt in A.D. 1098. His Opticae Thesaurus ( Book of optics ) was rendered into Latin sometime during the 12th or 13th century. Al- Hazen honestly declares that he himself did not discover it, so we know it had to have come earlier. Think that makes it too quick and easy? You'll find once you've finally got that outline done right you're a long, long, way from being finished in any medium... if these men who set the standard for realistic excellence used them, why shouldn't those who come after them be permitted? Simple, because this is one of the most carefully guarded "secrets of the old masters" and most people don't know very much about art history...
When asked why I usually work from photos I like to re-tell Norman Rockwell's story about having to paint a chicken: He set it up on a stump in a barn and goes to painting. The chicken moves it's head. He moves it back. The chicken jumps down. He puts it back. He goes to paint. now the chicken decides to make a break for it... he chases it down clucking and screaming and puts it back. Now it knows he's going to have it for dinner and it goes completely berserk. The next day, he came in and set the chicken back, snapped it's picture,
and the photo held nice and still."
I have built up an enormous library of original 35 mm source photos for use in my realistic art. For decades I have been seeking out the most beautiful models and sometimes even their boyfriends and relatives, bringing them in for sessions into my photography studio. The law with regards to copy rights on analog photographs was simple - if you owned the negative you owned the rights. This new instant copyright without filing law is very nice for photographers and artists working with their own photos, but not so good for free-hand drawings from the imagination and other non-photographic based forms of drawing and painting like cartoons.
This is the main reason I use my own photographs.
Using a strategy employed by J. W. Waterhouse, my wistful and graceful female models cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the stunning beauty and the potential for lasting appeal of my work. I am always make sure to both overpay them for their time and also the rights. I always get a written contract with the exception of my dearest friends and closest family who are always making cameo appearances. The models get amenities and services including portraits, portfolio photo sessions, photographic reprints and enlargements, leather presentation cases, webmaster services, original art, and reprints of their appearances in my drawings and paintings as well as above scale cash payments at the time of the shoot.
With regards to using copyrighted material as a reference- When you have to paint a wombat you can't fake it- you need a picture! The law understands this and automatically grants provision - within reasonable limits; when using copyrighted sources the source image must be so transformed in overall appearance in the translation as not to be what the law calls "confusingly similar"...
If it's newer than 1928 you can bet it's probably copyrighted - they had to renew exactly 26 years later in those days or it would pass into the public domain, so it might not be copyrighted if it wasn't a big moneymaker. Always be sure to check in these cases. If it's newer than 1999 under the millennial copyright act the law says it is automatically copyrighted without even filing. However, this new law is very tricky in it's wording because you must have already have filed with the copyright office in advance if you ever need to take legal action. They say it is copyrighted, but you cannot sue if it is not registered with the United States Library of Congress Office of Copyright. Because of this "instant copyright without filing" clause, there is a serious danger of artists being made legally helpless and left open to being cheated out of their work.
From an artist's standpoint, this is a huge improvement over the original 14 year copyright term. When properly interpreted and acted upon, by filing works with the United States Library of Congress Office of Copyright, these laws are GREAT for contemporary artists and their estates, who will hold rights for seventy years after the artist's death."
~ Howard David Johnson M M VI
The Constitutional Provision Respecting Copyright
The Congress shall have power... To promote the progress of Science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
United States Constitution Article I Section 8
( This essay is not meant to take the place of expert legal council, but to introduce people to the basic concepts. )
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