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

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Presents: Contemporary Mythical Art Galleries:

A Gallery of New Paintings, Drawings and Pictures from World Mythology in traditional oils, Contemporary acrylics, colored pencils and cutting edge digital mixed media in the style of the classic illustrators. Newly Updated for 2017!

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Myths and Legends of the Ancient World

The Contemporary Gaelic Celtic Mythological Art of Howard David Johnson

There are more than 33 million U.S. citizens of Irish ancestry, nine times the population of Ireland. I originally created these illustrations to share my Gaelic Celtic heritage with my children who also posed for some of them. This gallery is dedicated to my kinsmen, to kindred spirits everywhere, and to our children, and to our children's, children's, children...


The Morrican or the Phantom Queen was the Gaelic goddess of War associated with battle, warriors, and bloodshed, as well as battle sorcery and prophecy known for appearances in bird form. Similar to Valkyries in Norse/Germanic culture, gathering the souls of the slain.


  " When most people think of Celtic Art they think of design or abstract Celtic Art such as Celtic Knot work or Celtic Tattoo designs, ornamented tools, weapons, or  jewelry. For centuries, there has been a shortage of Realistic Celtic Art and Illustration. 

Recently, there has been a world wide revival of interest in Celtic Art and Celtic Culture. Gaelic Celtic American Scientific and Historical Illustrator Howard David Johnson has worked from the latest archaeological and anthropological evidence to give us one of the most accurate views ever of the lost civilization of the Ancient Celts. His Illustrations from Gaelic Celtic Mythology with their authentic Irish settings, Standing stones, Celtic Tattoos, Celtic jewelry, Celtic Knotwork and Gaelic mythological characters are one of the largest exhibitions of realistic Celtic Art by a single Celtic artist in history.  Licenses to publish HDJ's Celtic Art and illustrations are available by writing. 

The Celtic Art of Howard David Johnson: The Ulster Cycle illustrated... The Tuatha de Da Naan, the Fomorians and The Red Branch Knights! An exhibit of Photo Realistic Colored Pencil Drawings created in the 1990's & a full size image of one these photo-realistic Colored Pencil Drawings from the Ulster Cycle is displayed for close scrutiny- Plus exciting new pieces of Celtic Art created in mixed media for the 21st century and beyond.


 Brigit (AKA Saint Brigit) was the Gaelic goddess of poetry which the Gaels deemed an immaterial, supersensual form of flame. She was also considered the most important of the Dagda's children. 


  The Heroes of Ulster, the main focus of our exhibit, have no part in fairyland, but their enemy, Medb or Mave  (below right) is credited with Queenly rule among the Sidhe ( Fairies ) and is held by some to be the original "Queen Mab" (left). These illustrations are based on my euhemeristic approach, which attributes the origin of the gods to the deification of historical heroes or real persons and events.  I did these pictures to teach my children about their Gaelic Celtic heritage because I could find hardly any to show them when I told them the old stories. When I began working on these Gaelic Celtic Art illustrations in 1995 I employed the methods I learned as a scientific illustrator.  I thought I was dealing with Mythology, which I define as a dead religion.  I am so glad now that I treated the material with respect. What a surprise to find out after I exhibited them that this religion has revived in a new form. Of course I say a new form because claims that this Modern Celtic Paganism is the exact same religion practiced by the Druids and the Ancient Celts are impossible to substantiate.  This is because the Ancient Celts, like the Pre-Historic Hebrews had no written language and relied on oral tradition.


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    Because of this, the harpist was of incredible importance to the ancient Celts. The harp is the living symbol today of the Gaelic Celtic oral tradition and Celtic music is now celebrated all over the world. The only extant accounts of the Druids are brief mentions in the writings of Julius Caesar from the first century B.C. which go into no useful details whatsoever on this matter.  I've heard it said: "Ask a hundred Pagans: What is Paganism and you're likely to get a hundred different answers." This does not make this any easier for contemporary scholars to sort out. However, It is my American Scots-Irish family's roots and cultural heritage after all and I feel what we do have is to be preserved and never to be treated lightly even if I don't believe any of the supernatural elements in it. ( For more on my struggle to sort out history from mythology see the essay "How do we sort out History and Mythology?" below ). My scholarly Gaelic Celtic sources* and also, more art & my essays on art and art and technology follow."

~Howard David Johnson  

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The chieftain gods of the Tuatha dé Danann were expected by means of their supernatural powers and their four magical treasures, the Cauldron of Dagda, the Spear of Lugh, the Sword of Nuada and the Stone of Fàl to secure and advace the welfare of the people. The men were the Dagda, Lugh, Nuada, and the women were Danu, Anu, Brigit, and Emain Macha. The heroes of the Celts, such as Cu Chulainn and Finn, although of divine ancestry are in a different category than the gods of the Gaelic Celts, just as Perseus and Siegfried are sons of Zeus and Woten in Greek and Nordic mythology. Here we see Cuchulainn going into battle in his legendary war chariot with it's deadly  scythes.




"Cuchulainn's War Chariot" (MMIX Mixed Media)






"Celtic Queen Boudica and the Morrigu" MMX Left Oil on Canvas "Blodeuwedd and Gwydion":Oil on Canvas .  Blodeuwedd means "born of the flowers" and is Welsh Celtic Mythology in English from "The stories of the Mabinogion" translated by the Lady Charlotte Guest AKA The White book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) finally written in Welsh ca. 1350 & the Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest) ca. 1382-1410.and "Queen Mab, the Bringer of Dreams" MMVI right (Oil on Canvas).




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And now... 'Celtic Art and Celtic Mythology: The Ulster Cycle illustrated.'

A Non Profit Educational Illustrative Celtic Art Gallery

The Ulster Saga and the chieftain gods of the Gaelic Celts - Illustrated in Spectracolor Colored Pencils between 1995-1998


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Dechtire, mother of Cuchulainn


Domnu, goddess mother of the Fomorians


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The seduction of Aoife, the Amazon


The wooing of Emer


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Cuchulainn, chief hero of the Ultonians


Conlaoch, The son of Cuchulainn and Aoife, the Amazon


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Death of Conlaoch


Bodbh, goddess of war and death


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Danu, mother goddess of the Gaelic gods


Titania, Queen of the Faieries


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The Dagda, Gaelic god of the Earth   


Deirdre of the sorrows


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The Spear of Lugh


Finn mac Coul


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Artio, goddess of the chase


Cuchulainn, the Giant Slayer


The Sword of Nuada

   The Tuatha De' Da Nann were the children of Danu, and the Gaelic Celtic gods. Their enemies were the Fomorians, paralleling the Greek and Norse myths, with the Giants versus the Olympians and the Jotung against the Aesir. The greatest of these Celtic gods appears to have been Nuada, called Argetlam, or "he of silver hand", after the first battle of Moytura in which he lost a hand subsequently replaced by one of silver.

 Nuada was at once the Gaelic Zeus, or Jupiter, and their war god; for among primitive nations, to whom success in war is all-important, the god of battles is the supreme god. The name the Gauls gave him was identified with Mars and he was one of the most important gods of the Britons as well.

 He was possessed of an invincible sword, The Sword of Nuada; one of the four chief treasures of the Tuatha De' Da Nann, over whom, Nuada was twice king and the British Isles were no doubt conquered under his auspices. The Ancient Celts were madly fond of war and worshipped this god, who delighted in battle & slaughter with human sacrifice - the Latin poet Lucan tells us.  


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Over the course of a thousand years the Tuatha dé Da Nann evolved into the Fairies and the Little People.  For more art galleries devoted to the Fairies, the King Arthur Legends and lots of other folklore, myths and fables see the links below...


The Heathen gods of the Irish evolved into "the little people" AKA fairies and the Shee, ( or Sidhee in Gaelic. ) Other names for fairy and fairy like creatures include the leprechaun, fay, sprite, elf, brownie, pixie, pixy, Robin Goodfellow, dwarf, gnome, troll, kobold, peri, and the hobgoblin. For more of David's extensive work visit the Gallery links below.

The King Arthur Legends' Celtic Origins:

It is now generally regarded as fact that the Celtic legends of history surrounding the medieval King Arthur and Guinevere are really derived from the Religion of the Ancient Britons ( Celts ) and the attributes and events of the life of King Artaius and Gwenhwyvar of the British gods have been applied to the actual historical King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in an attempt to preserve the oral traditions of their ancient Celtic spiritual and cultural heritage against the persecution of the Romans during the dark ages... Merlin was Myrddin, Mordred was Medrawt, Galahad was Gwalchaved and Sir Kay was Kai.  Was The Lady of the Lake a Celtic lake divinity in origin, the same kind as the Gwagged Annwn? Or was she originally a lake fairy from Welsh folklore. Of many, Vivienne is the best choice for the name of this Lady of the Lake - the one who also enchanted Merlin and imprisoned him forever. For a gallery devoted to the Celtic Origins of The King Arthur legends see the links below...




The Red Welsh Dragon   

The Welsh Dragon or "the Red Dragon" or "
Y Ddraig Goch" in Welsh, is the symbol of Wales and adorns its national flag. This dragon was featured on the legendary battle standards of King Arthur, the heathen Celtic gods and historic chieftains and kings.  In the treasured ancient Mabinogion legends the red dragon fights an invading White Dragon. For centuries their castle walls were demolished nightly by these spirit beings. The legendary fight was said to symbolize the struggle between the Welsh and English and prophesied that after years of tyranny the Welsh would drive the English from their homeland.

   In the search for a special boy to offer as a human sacrifice to rid them of this pestilence, the boy Merlin is found and through strange twists of fate becomes one of the greatest dragon masters of the Celtic legends where his vision of the red dragon is a prophecy of the coming of King Arthur. Arthur's father was known as Uther Pendragon or the “Dragon Chief."

   In factual history Henry VII [or Henry Tudor]  flew a red dragon of Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon on his battle flag, The earliest recorded used of the red dragon as a symbol of Wales is in the 'Historia Brittonum'.

   The red Dragon was first brought to Great Britain during the Roman era and history tells us they first learned of it from the Persians. The Red Dragon or 'draco' symbol was used as a standard by the Roman army but over time it was adopted by the Welsh people as their national flag. It is the oldest extant national flag flying today.

   The great Welsh king, Cadwaladr, carried the dragon standard as a symbol of bravery and fierceness. Welsh princes and warriors continued the tradition. In 1346 during the Battle of Crecy Welsh archers in the English army carried the same standard.

   Henry Tudor, who was descended from Cadwaladr, carried a banner with a Red Dragon into the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. When he became Henry VII he decreed that the red dragon should adorn on Welsh flag. In 1959 Queen Elizabeth II declared that the red dragon on a green and white field should become the official symbol of Wales and thus this time honored legend is still vibrant and alive in the 21st Century.







MODERN MYTHOLOGY? ( "Goblin Fighter Halith" left 2010 digital) Was done for a Fantasy book cover. Chicks in chain mail? The warrior woman has emerged in recent times as ferocious and deadly as the mightiest male warriors of myth and history. The weaker sex? Not in these stories! The oddest part of this fun new phenomenon in fantasy art, cartoons, novels and movies is the eagerness of certain writers to pretend they always existed and to present historical figures in this light. Generals participating in battle plans? Yes! Judges and mayors? Yes! Battlefield combatants? No. Celtic Women were more like Warrior Queen Boudica (above right) and were more like cheerleaders on those days in history when the battles were actually fought. If their man was cowardly on the battlefield, they were eyewitnesses and you can rest assured he wished he was dead when he got home.

Thank you for visiting the Celtic Myth & Legend Art Gallery of Howard David Johnson... 


  King Arthur + Sir Lancelot Jousting       fantasy art legend of robin hood

If you enjoyed this gallery you might enjoy some of David's other themed Galleries, links are just below.




  Who is American Illustrator Howard David Johnson?

In one of David's many invitations to the Florence Biennale Contemporary Art Exhibition, (a partner in the United Nations' Dialog among Nations), UN Secretary General Kofi Anon wrote: "Artists have a special role to play in the global struggle for peace. At their best, artists speak not only to people; they speak for them. Art is a weapon against ignorance and hatred and an agent of public awareness... Art opens new doors for learning, understanding, and peace among nations."

   Howard David Johnson is a contemporary illustrator, photographer, and scholar with a background in the natural sciences, mythology, and history. H D Johnson, or David as he is called, works in a wide variety of media ranging from traditional oils,  pastels and others to today's cutting edge digital media. After a lifetime of drawing and painting, Johnson's Traditional Realistic Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London in 1996, ( 3 years before he got his first computer ) as well as numerous American ones since, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 His illustrations have appeared in every major bookstore and game shop chain in America as well as magazines and educational texts around the world. Some of David's more prestigious clients have included the University of Texas, the University of Cambridge in England, Paramount Studios, PBS TV, Adobe Photoshop Auto FX, Bookspan, (Doubleday, the Book of the Month Club ) and J Walter Thompson Advertising. 

Licenses to print his existing work are available at surprisingly affordable prices. Realistic Oil Paintings, Colored pencils, Pastels, Mixed media, and Digital art can also be commissioned for select projects - Working in a variety of traditional and cutting edge digital media he offers his customers a variety of options and more than thirty years of experience.

A portrait of the artist in his painting studio as he is today. 

As an illustrator David has not only used the computer but has been involved in the development of filter imaging software for Adobe Photoshop. 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 license offers start at $99. USD


Your  business, letters, & links are always welcome.



This Art Gallery has been honored by more than 25,000,000 unique visitors

from the Four Corners of the Earth:

My Friends from around the world thus far :

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and my home, The Great Free State of Texas (USA)...

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


Your  business, letters, & links are always welcome.




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Bibliography/ Acknowledgements

some key text sources and recommended reading:

Mr. E.W.B. Nicholson, M.A.   "Keltic Researches"

The Lady Wilde "Ancient Legends of Ireland"

Crofton Croker "Fairy Legends and traditions of the South of Ireland"

John Rhys: "Studies in the Arthurian Legend" and " Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathendom"

Alfred Nutt: "Popular studies in Mythology, Romance, and Folklore"

O'Curry: "Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish"

De Jubainville: "Cycle Mythologique Irlandais"

Tacitus: " Annals" and "Agricola"

Julius Caesar: "De Bello Gallico"

Nennius: Historia Britonum 




Enter a world of Beauty and Imagination...


Admission Free Virtual Art Galleries

The Realistic Art Galleries of Contemporary American Illustrator & Photographer Howard David Johnson

Click on the Icons to visit the  Fun & Educational Art Galleries : Including Realistic Art of Greek Mythology, Mythic art of Rome, Asia, The Celts, The Norsemen, and more ...Fairy and Dragon legends, The King Arthur Legends, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Paintings of Ancient Egypt and Babylon, Illustrations of Ancient Mystic Religious texts, War and Civilization from The Ancient Spartans and the Trojan Horse to World War Two, The World's Great Religions, free lessons in Realistic Art Technique and Essays on Realistic Art and Technology.


Now that you've seen Celtic Mythology ...if you like Greek , Roman or Asian Mythology, click the icons below...

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Bonus Section:

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




From THE ULSTER CYCLE coloured pencil plate # 9 shown actual size

The terrible tragedy of the Irish Achilles: Cuchulainn unknowingly kills his abandoned son Conlaech.


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A brief essay by the artist



    As a professional Illustrator I am called upon to illustrate Legends of History and Mythology, Fact and Fantasy, the Sacred and the Profane. In as much as I have endeavored to sort them out accordingly, it has become one of the more fascinating challenges I have ever faced. As I am ever mentioning, the advances of science are constantly giving us a clearer view of the past even causing Mythology to become History as in the case of the Trojan Wars, the legendary Helen of Troy, and the Trojan Horse. The archaeological excavations of Troy may prove the existence of the city of Troy and the Trojan War. They in no way make The Iliad a history book however, because of the unprovable spiritual and religious occurrences in the narrative. This sorting out of myth and legend from history is no less difficult today because of their intertwining influences on one another.

       Did you know the real life Robin Hood ( before the legend was Christianized ) actually fought the ancient Romans during the reign of Emperor Claudius and was really a Celtic Warrior named Caracticus?  Consider as a more recent example of this problem, 20th century American President Theodore Roosevelt. He lives in history because of his heroic charge up San Juan hill with his legendary roughriders. When this story was printed in William Randolph Hearst's newspapers it catapulted him to fame and ushered him into the White House as a glorious American War Hero. Everyone has seen the paintings and statues of Teddy Roosevelt and his roughriders dressed in khaki, mounted on horseback and charging fearlessly forward waving their swords. In reality, it was a group of Heroic African American Buffalo Soldiers who took San Juan Hill in spite of their heavy casualties. They did not wear khaki. They were not mounted on horseback, but were foot soldiers in the same dark blue uniforms of the U.S. cavalry as worn during the Indian Wars. Roosevelt's group actually took a nearby Hill against light resistance but Hearst said that would not sell newspapers so he created an American Myth. So as we see, here is something taught to children in schools as history is just not true at all, but yet, this myth shaped the true history of the world in  the 20th century and beyond.

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

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

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

           I see History as an endless waltz. Three beats over and over. War, Peace, and Revolution. Three beats over and over in an endless cycle of death, destruction, and regeneration. An Endless Waltz... and those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to dance this deadly waltz and pay this Frightful price for War. As modern technology such as jet aircraft and thermonuclear missles make the world smaller & more dangerous everyday, tolerating each other's racial, social, & religious differences & living together in peace has now become key to the continued survival of mankind through the 21st century...

~H D Johnson 2003



"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 various galleries linked to by the icons above show many examples of His Realistic Art, and are grouped by theme rather than media. There are also sample illustrations from his  upcoming books on Celtic Myth and Legend and World Myth & Legend. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters. 

To create his work, he usually starts with a thematic concept  followed by a rough realistic pencil sketch, then followed by his photography, often traveling to find suitable scenes and locations and then working in his Photography studio with live models from his sketches. He then assembles a variety of elements which are realistic and original. As a boy he dedicated his life to art in 1960. From 1965- 1999 he used xeroxes and tracings to make his preliminary photo montages. 

This is patterned after  the manner used by Maxfield Parrish and other 19th century notables. Beginning with a tracing, he then draws or paints from these complex original Computer Photo Montages. Many of these are on display on this web and slated for future completion in a variety of realistic traditional art media. As this happens, the finished work is substituted in the exhibit.

"Blodeuwedd and Gwydion": 2007 Mixed Media. Blodeuwedd means "born of the flowers". Welsh Celtic Mythology from "The stories of the Mabinogion" AKA the White book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) written ca. 1350 & the Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest) written about 1382-1410. Just for fun- Can you recognize the powerful flowering healing herb she is standing in?

His favourite medium for realistic art is colored pencil because of the high speed and low expense, and people began expressing difficulty in telling his colored pencil drawing from photographs in the early 1980's.  In the last 35 plus years he has also mastered Oils, Pastels, Acrylics, Watercolors, Inks, Scratchboard, Gouache, Photography, and the highly controversial digital media ( Art Numérica). As a commercial illustrator Johnson has not only used the computer to create art but has been involved in the development of computer imaging software. Working in a realistic style inspired by classic illustrators HDJ is deeply rooted and grounded in the Greco-Roman artistic tradition, Feeling that with realistic art, the human form is the ultimate arena for artistic expression. His lifelong dream came true when his Traditional Realistic Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London England in 1996. His mixed media has also been displayed in numerous other ones since such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Having achieved international acclaim as a traditional visual artist he discovered digital media ( Art Numérica ) in 1999. Because of his passion for realistic art and photography he elected to embrace it and joyfully be a part of this historic era in the visual arts as a 21st century realistic visual artist.

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( Unblended Spectracolor pencils on # 400 Strathmore Bristol board )

Since 1972 when he began his career as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas he has earned his living illustrating all kinds of books, magazines, CD covers, and all sorts of games, greeting cards, calendars, portraits, murals and the like with his contemporary realistic art... HDJ's Realistic Art has appeared in every major bookstore chain and fantasy gaming shop in The United States and has been used in educational texts and magazines all over the world. 

This site features realistic paintings & pictures for the twenty-first Century including some oil paintings, as well as lots of other exciting media such as colored pencil drawings, pastel paintings, acrylic paintings, gouache paintings, watercolor paintings, and pencil drawings, and also featuring studio,  field, & aerial photography,  digital painting and photo-montage and all these media mixed in an assortment of experimental combinations...

Working in a wide variety of media to create his realistic art he offers his customers a host of payment and product options. He delivers the rights to these custom made copyright free illustrations and old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire.

    HDJ's Mythic Art creations take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as West Side Story came from Romeo and Juliet. Our shared cultural heritage, great works of art, literature, music and drama, cinema, folk tales and fairy tales are all drawn upon again and again by the creators of new works. These works in the public domain are both a catalyst and a wellspring for creativity and innovation. Where would Walt Disney be without the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, or Victor Hugo? Where would Aaron Copeland have been without American folk music? Thomas Nast's Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Pablo Picasso without African art? Public domain appropriators, one and all. HDJ accepts select commissions to paint custom oil paintings with down payments starting at only one thousand dollars. He grants permission for most educational purposes simply for the asking. To use his existing realistic art works outside the classroom he offers low cost license offers starting around $100.00.

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


Your  business, letters, & links are always welcome.


In addition to his mastery of traditional media, Howard David Johnson now combines drawing, painting, photography, and digital media with more than thirty years of experience in these fields to create his Realistic Art Numérica in 21st century paintings and pictures. Did you know the Greek word "Photography" means "Painting with Light"? Today with the advent of computers it truly lives up to it's name. Due to developments in Art and Technology, a broader definition of painting is needed than that which is found in common usage. Announcing Art Numérica -an exciting merger of traditional visual art and cutting edge technology... a new art form for the twenty- first century... Art Numérica is not limited to realistic art but also offers limitless horizons for everything from cartoons to abstractions. It is the most dramatic development in the visual arts since the Renaissance. In the words of Al Jolson in the movie world's first talking picture" You ain't seen nothin' yet!"


(A Brief essay dealing with attitudes toward Traditional Realistic Paintings, Pastels, Colored Pencils and Art Numérica )

"Painting, in art, the action of laying colour on a surface, or the representation of objects by this means. Considered one of the fine arts"

~Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

"Painting. noun. 1.) The act or employment of laying on colors or paints. 2.) The art of forming figures or objects in colors on canvas or any other surface, or the art of representing to the eye by means of figures and colors any object; the work of an illustrator or painter. 3.) A picture; a likeness or resemblance in shape or colors. 4.) Colors laid on. 5.) Delineation that raises a vivid image in the mind; as in word painting.

~ Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language

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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...

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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 other notables are being removed from school libraries.  After generations of this, most American college graduates today cannot name even one living visual artist, abstract or realistic.

There is no way that mandating more math, requiring more reading, or scheduling more science will replace what we have lost as a culture.    

What is your definition of Art?



Note: Abstract Paintings by Congo the Chimpanzee outsold Warhol and Renoir by over 25,000 dollars in June 2005 at a London art auction. Born in 1954, Congo created more than 400 drawings and paintings between the ages of two and four. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis.


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.

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Photography, Drawing, Painting and Art Numérica 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






   Five pages of free art lessons are provided free of charge to aspiring artists. Click on The Oracle for links to them. After you have seen them, if you would like to still learn more of his art techniques - personal instruction is available. Although portraiture is essential to quality realistic illustration, it is not the primary focus of our school, but rather to teach everything needed for you to produce good visual story telling art or dramatic illustrative portraits. For more on The Brandywine School of ILLUSTRATIVE ART...

Click on the portrait to your right for more...

( These lessons are jam packed with unpublished huge - easy to study 12x18 images by the artist)



    These beautifully printed 11" x 8.5" 64 page hardcover and trade paperback versions feature 48 full page interior plates in full color starting at only $14.99 USD. Less than the price of a single poster! Featuring Realistic Mythological and Fairy Art created in a style inspired by Classic Illustrators by American Artist & Photographer Howard David Johnson. 

Click on the covers to order the books from Lulu.com



from the legacy series

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Thank you for visiting The Celtic Myth & Legend art gallery of Howard David Johnson...


Your  business, letters, & links are always welcome.