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Illustrations of Norse Mythology: Featuring paintings and pictures of Teutonic and Scandinavian Sagas and the Siegfried and Kalevala Legends. (Ancient Nordic Myths and Legends of the Vikings, Germany, and Scandinavia.) An educational multi-media gallery of realistic Illustrations of Norse Mythology and word paintings 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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A.K.A. Teutonic Mythology - Nordic Mythology - Scandinavian Mythology - Norse Myths - Myths of the Vikings -  Legends of the Aesir and the Jötung

Contemporary Interpretations of The Prose and Poetic Edda -Legends of Thor, Loki and Odin and the Aesir of Valhalla, of Beowulf and The Nibelungenlied Saga: The Ring of the Nibelung, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, & The Twilight of the gods. Scroll down (and down and down) to see the art...

Educational Multi-Media Mythic Art Galleries

Howard David Johnson has eight different galleries devoted to myths and legends of the Old World ~ Newly updated with LOTS of new art for 2014!

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 Norse Mythology Greek Mythology Celtic Mythology Women of Mythology Asian Mythology Russian Mythology Classic Fairy Tales Fairy Lore

                                              

Unlike the Greek & Roman myths, these Norse myths can vary drastically in details, names, and spellings depending on their country of origin due to the use of oral tradition rather than written language before the stories and poems that had been anonymously compiled were written down by Snori Sturluson in the 13th century. (The Aesop of the North) Details such as the parentage of Loki have been the subject of scholarly debate for centuries...

 

 

 

The Races and Realms of Teutonic Mythology"

      In Norse mythology there are nine worlds. From the center of the Norse cosmos at the heart of the unimaginable emptiness of space - Ginnungagap, where the Norse Creation Saga unfolded, Yggdrasill, a celestial ash tree,  sprawls forth...  Her three mighty roots drink from the waters of these home worlds, or  Níu Heimar in Old Norse. These nine realms include Asgard (The domain of the Æsir gods),  The Æsir Gods were strong, beautiful and big compared to ordinary people. They lived longer than the humans, but were not immortal. Vanaheim (Home to the Vanir gods), Midgard (Realms of Mankind), Alfheim (Home of the Alfar or Elves sometimes divided into two realms), Helheim (Icy domain of the non-warrior dead ruled by the goddess Hel), Jotunheim (Land of the Jotuns, or Frost Giants), Nifleheim (the cold realm at the base of the World Tree), Nidavellir or Svartalfheim (the land of the Dwarves). The molten region called Muspel, or Muspelheim, dwelling place of the Fire Giants and their king the powerful giant Surtur.

 

 

 

Contemporary Mythic Art;  gods & monsters of Norse Mythology ~

 

Odin, The All-Father    

 Odin, the supreme Norse god, was the son of Borr and Bestla, king of the Aesir (Æsir, Asynur pl. pronounced "eye-seer") and lord of Asgard. He was also the god of war, wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy, victory and the hunt. Odin was called by more than 200 different names revealing his many roles. Among others, he was known as Yggr (terror), Sigfodr (father of Victory) and Alfodr (All Father). When he went out to battle he rode an eight legged horse named Sleipnir. His weapon of choice was a magical spear called Gungnir, fashioned by the dwarfs that returns when thrown and always hits its target.   His Old High German name was "Wôtan", in Old English "Wōden", and Old Anglo Saxon"Wôdan" Wednesday (Woden's day) was named for him. In the  Völuspá, a völva chronicles the creation of the first human beings Ask and Embla by Odin and his brothers Hœnir and Lóðurr.  His sons were Thor, Loki , Tyr by Erda and Baldur by Frigg among others. He was called "The wanderer" because he loved to travel the nine worlds disguised as an ordinary man  but was also known for shape shifting into animal forms. He was often accompanied by two wolves Geri and Freki (Old Norse: "the ravenous" and "greedy one") These Wolf-warriors, were not mere animals but mythical beings: as Odin's loyal allies they bodied forth his might. He had two ravens, thought and memory fly to and fro in the Earth and report the activities of men to him in his Gladshiem, the grandest of Aesir palaces.

 

"Odin and Sleipnir" MMXIII

 

"Odin and the Norns at Yggdrasill" MMXIV

 

Beneath the roots of Yggdrasill in Jotunheim, the world of the frost giants is the spring of Mimir, whose mystic waters impart wisdom and understanding. In the Æsir home world its  root taps the sacred wellspring of fate, the Well of Urðr, attended by the three Norn sisters, who live near it. Yggdrasill is revitalized each day as they nourish it with special waters and smear it with clay from the spring to preserve it. Its waters fall upon the earth as dew. It is to them Odin traded his eye for wisdom... that which  he craved more than anything else. Odin, the king of the Æsir-gods quest for wisdom was never-ending, and he was willing to pay any price for revelation concerning life’s mysteries and to discover the runes . On one occasion, he hanged himself to a tree, on another he fasted for 40 days and nights and one other he gave his right eye to the guardian Mimir to drink from a horn filled from the well in hopes of gaining cosmic knowledge.

 

 

Thor, the god of Thunder

The Mighty Thor, who was known primarily as the thunder god was also the Norse god of war and agriculture.  he was among the great gods of the Aesir, second only to Odin, his father. His mother was Fiörgyn the beautiful giantess, and Loki, his half-brother, was a frequent companion on his adventures. His name is the Teutonic word for thunder, outside the Teutonic areas, he has close affinities with Jupiter or Zeus. He was worshipped as Thunor, or Thonar in ancient England. 

His hammer, also created by the dwarfs, was aptly called Mjölnir (crusher ) was as destructive as the thunderbolts of Zeus in punishing wrongdoers.  It was the most potent weapon against the Frost Giants, Fire Trolls and other enemies. When Thor hurled it, it returned to his hand after hitting it's target. When Thor put on his magic belt his already enormous strength was doubled. The creators of these marvels, the Dwarfs were a class of clever supernatural beings not unlike elves and fairies, noted for skill at metalworking and serving the gods.         

Thor, is for whom Thursday or Thor's day was originally named. He was apparently more widely worshipped than any other god by the ancient Norsemen. The evolution of the popular Thor Mythology continues to this day in comic books, video games, and  motion pictures.

 

       

 

"Thor the god of Thunder"

 

 

 

"Surtur, King of the Fire Trolls"

 

 

 

Surtur, The King of the Fire Giants

 Surtur (Surtr) was said by some to be the son of Múspell, founder of Muspelhiem the volcanic, smoldering and glowing and burning southern region of the first world, yet other legends say he was the first living being in the nine worlds, created from the primal fires. He was the king of the Fire Trolls (or Demons or Giants as they were called). The gigantic warrior kept a vigil in the lava pits of the volcanoes on the outlying regions to defend the land against intruders. He carried a massive glowing enchanted sword, hot as molten embers and his fingers could turn into deadly serpents. He had many children ranging from huge and grotesque to normal sized and beautiful. Some sources say Loki, the god of fire and mischief was one of his descendants. They rarely fought with  the Æsir as the Storm Giants did.

Some say Surtur melted the ice to reveal Audhumla the cow and to create the first frost giant Ymir in the creation saga. These believe Sartur is both the beginning and the end of all life. At the end of the World (Ragnarok) the army of Múspell with Surtr as its general shall storm the rainbow bridge Bifrost and it will collapse. The battle will take place on the field of Vígríðr, with Heimdallr blowing mightily in the Gjallar-Horn to awaken all the gods. In the epic carnage all the gods will die along with the giants, Fenris Wolf and the Midgard Serpent. At the end, Surtr is the one to kill Freyr. The last gods standing will be Loki and Heimdall who will slay one another. Then straightway shall Surtr cast fire over the earth and burn all the world.

 

 

 

Frigg takes oaths from all living creatures

   Frigg, Queen of Asgard and wife of Odin, mother to Baldur and step mother to Thor, Tyr, Hermodr, Hödur, and Bragi was first and foremost among the Asynjur or Norse goddesses. She was the only one who could sit with Odin on his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), and look down on everything that transpired in the universe. She was a prophetess who spun the clouds. Her name means beloved lady in the Old Norse Frigg (Friggjar), Old Saxon Fri, and Old English Frig are derived from Common Germanic Frijjō 'wife; dearest, beloved one. The weekday Friday is named for her.

One morning, she awoke from a hideous nightmare. She had seen Hel, the Goddess who rules the underworld, take Baldur into her realm. Baldur had also been tormented by frightful dreams foretelling his doom. So Odin called the ancient prophetess, Wala, from her grave to divine what was behind the dreams. He asked her who was next to enter the realm of Hel, and her answer was "It is Baldur, the noble one, who is next for Hel, and Hödur, his blind brother, will be the bringer of his death." 

So the Aesir counseled on forestalling Baldur's death. Odin decreed that every creature in heaven and on earth must swear an oath to never harm Baldur. Queen Frigg  personally oversaw the administration of the oaths. Fire and water, dwarfs, giants, and elves, humankind, and all plants and animals swore it, everything save little mistletoe which she perceived was too young to be a threat, and Baldur was rendered invulnerable.

 

 

 

"Frigg takes oaths from all living creatures"

 

 

 

"Baldur, the Shining One"

 

 

 

The Death of Baldur

Baldur, son of Odin and Frigga and brother to Thor and Tyr, was the  handsomest and noblest of the Gods. Forever young, he was the God of Peace and Forgiveness, Light and Spring, of all things Right and Good, Just and fair, Noble Baldur was the best loved among all the Aesir. 

Loki, the backbiter, had taken part in the Aesir's council. As the gods amused themselves throwing weapons at Baldur, who could not be harmed, Loki shape-shifted into the guise of an old beggar woman, knowing that he could arouse the sympathy of Frigg. He wrested her secret: An oak tree, outside the gates to Valhalla, had a bush of mistletoe. The tiny sprig had seemed so meek and harmless to Frigg that it had not been included in the oath. Loki hurried to the oak tree where he cut a twig from the mistletoe, and returned to the game with Baldur. The blind Hödur lamented to Loki: "How can  I Shoot what I can't see?" "Take up your bow and ready yourself," said Loki, "and here is your arrow." He handed Hödur the mistletoe arrow point  and guided his hand. Hödur joyfully fired his shot. Mortally wounded, Baldur sank to the ground. The horrible prophecy of Wala had come true. Only the prophesy protected Hödur from the deadly wrath of the Gods. 

So the Gods prepared a funeral for their beloved Baldur. Never before had Asgard or Midgard suffered such deep mourning. They erected a funeral pyre on Baldur's own ship, Ringhorn. As Thor set torch to the pyre, he 
kicked a dwarf into the inferno in his anger. Baldur would not go to Valhalla, for he had not died a warrior's death, he would go to HEL.

 

 

 

Hermodr pleads wih HEL for Baldur

 

  The Aesir all loved Thor's beautiful brother, Baldur. All except Loki, the god of mischief who found his "Achilles heel"- mistletoe and a way to exploit it by fashioning an arrow point to kill him. Sick with grief, the gods sent noble Nermodr, his brother with Odin's eight legged steed, Sleipnir to Hel to plead for his return. Hel, ruler of the underworld was Loki's daughter and none too pleased with her and her sibling's treatment at Odin's hands.  Hel conceded, if every living being would shed at least one tear for Baldur, she would return him. Hermod returned to the world of the living and told the Aesir of the agreement. They managed to get every creature in the nine worlds to grieve, except for one giantess named Thokk, who was really Hel's father Loki in disguise. Because of this, Balder would remain in Nifilheim until Ragnarok. Hermod returned to the living world and informed the gods of the agreement. The gods managed to get all things in the nine worlds to grieve, except for one giantess named Thokk, who was really Hel's father Loki in disguise. Because of Loki's act, Balder would remain in Nifilheim until Ragnarok. Other names she was known by were Hell and Hella. She was also described as being both black as night and white as snow.

 Note the ancient sun disk symbol, the swastika which was not in any way associated with anti-semitism or racism and was used much like the ancient Japanese indigenous aboriginal tribes of America and the Asian Indians.

 

 

"Hermodr Before Hel" MMXIII

 

 

 

"Loki and his Children" MMXIII

 

 

Loki and his Children

  Loki, son of Odin was a paradox, beloved by the Aesir but also their greatest source of grief. Loki's parentage has been the subject of scholarly debate for centuries. He was a master sorcerer, a shape shifter appearing as a salmon,a mare, seal, a fly, and a crone. 

Also known as Loptr, or Hveðrungr, Loki is both Aesir (Norse god) and Jötunn (giant) He is father to Hel, ruler of the underworld, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr all by his first wife, the giantess Angrboda. By his beautiful Aesir wife Sigyn, he fathered Narfi and/or Nari and by the stallion Svaðilfari, acting as mother while in the form of a mare to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. He is also listed as the father of Váli in the Prose Edda.

       Fenrir was the eldest and took the form of a wolf while his younger brother Jörmungandr took the form of a serpent and his younger sister Hel was both half alive and dead. The Aesir feared them all and seized them in the dead of night from Angrboda's hall. They brought the three monsters back to Asgard where they threw Jörmungandr into the waters that surround Midgard and Hel into Niflheim where she rules until Ragnarok.  Hel will make her last stand at the twilight of the gods when she brings up her hoard of dead out of Nifilheim to join Loki and the other giants in the final battle of Ragnarok. Unlike her brothers Fenrir the Wolf and Jörmungandr the Serpent, we are not told how she will meet her end on the field of Vigrid.

 

Heimdall - Wächter von Bifrost (Guardian of Bifrost)

 

    Heimdal, (Old Norse Heimdallr) the first Patriarch, was the son of nine mothers and whitest of the gods- the god of the dawn and light and culture as well as the mighty guardian of Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge, the only entrance to Asgard. Heimdall's duty was to serve as watchman for the gods against the giants (Jotun) and other threats to the Asgardians with his mighty horn called Gjallar and his rooster Gullinkambi. All-seeing, he stood on the boundary of the human and divine worlds and  some accounts was a personification of the world tree Yggdrasil. Needing less sleep than a bird and seeing a hundred leagues away in day or night, his hearing was so sharp he could even hear grass growing down in Midgard, the land of men.  

Both the son of Odin and nine sisters, a feat possible for gods and giants, but not Earthly creatures, he was said to be the father of mankind. Born at the beginning of time at the end of the world and forced up by the Earth, the white foam of seawater and the blood of a boar, Young Heimdall lived among men and gave them the gifts of culture. He was said to have been one of the "first gods" dating back to the earliest Indo-European pantheons. It was Heimdall and not Odin who fathered the three classes of mankind: serfs, peasants, and warriors. 

 At the dire sounding of the horn Gjallar heard throughout the nine worlds, the Aesir will assemble knowing from their prophecies it has heralded their doomsday. Resigned to their fate, they go to meet the enemies of the gods gathered at the plain Vígríðr for the Apocalyptic Battle of  Ragnarök. At which, Heimdall will be the one to take down Loki, but will perish himself from his wounds and the world will be engulfed in flames and sink into the sea.

 

"Heimdall - Wächter von Bifrost" MMXIII

 

 

" Freyr and Gullinbursti in Alfheim" MMXIV

 

Freyr, Norse god of the Sun & Lord of the Elves

Freyr or Fricco of the Vanir [fertility gods], was brother of Freya and son to Njord. He was the Norse god of the sun and rain, and very popular for being the bringer of peace, prosperity, bountiful harvests and fertile marriages. After the war and the joining of the Aesir and the Vanir, Freyr was called 'Lord of the Aesir' Paradoxically he was both a god of peace and a warrior god, possessing a magic sword that could emerge from its sheath on its own and spread a field with carnage and death. 

Also Lord of Alfheim and the ruler of the Elves, Freyr was the most celebrated and most beautiful of the Vanir men, called 'God of the World' by the ancient Vikings. His dear companion, Gullinbursti the wild pig carried him in a chariot made by the dwarfs Brokk and Eitri. He was very similar to the god Apollo of Greek mythology in many ways. 

He married the beautiful giantess Gerd and the story of how Freyr wooed her is chronicled in the poem Skírnismál. Freyr's shield bearer and servant was Skirnir, to whom he gave his sword as reward for his perilous journey to the hall of the giant Gymir to procure Gerd for him to be his wife. 

On the day of Ragnarok he will battle without weapons and be the first to be killed, yes,tThe loss of Freyr's magic sword will be dearly missed at Ragnarök for Freyr will be killed with a single blow from Surtr, the fire giant. 

 


 

 

 

"The Giant Killers" (below Left) is an homage to Vasnetsov and features the All-father, Odin, the father of victory and the king of the Norse pantheon adventuring with his sons. He is also associated with war, Cunning, trickery, magic and poetry among many other things. He is shown with his magical spear Gungir fashioned by the dwarfs shouldered and accompanied by his pet wolves and Ravens. His son Thor, the god of thunder Old High German Donar- from whom Thor's day AKA Thursday is named is shown with his mighty hammer Mjolnir. Also accompanying them is Loki, half-giant [Jotunn] and half-Aesir.  He was the god of fire and mischief and father of Hel and Fenrir the Wolf. [below].The All-father and his companions are shown here on horseback in the snowy mountains of Jotunheimr, on an expedition to Utgard, hunting for their mortal enemies, the Giants.

 

The Defenders of the Earth

 

"The Giant Killers" MMXIV

 

Thor's Journey to Utgard

 

"The Giant's Challenge" MMXIV

 

 The Fire Giants

 

"In the Land of the Giants" MMXIV

 

    "The Giant's Challenge"  [above center] and "The Land of the Giants" [far right] show some of the varieties of Norse giants, some were even human size and beautiful! "The Giant's Challenge" [above center] illustrates Thor's journey to Utgard in which the giant challeneged him to contests and of course- resorted to trickery! "Utgard was the Asgard of the Giants. But in its buildings there was not a line of the beauty that there was in the palaces of the Gods, Gladsheim and  Breidablik or Fensalir. Huge but shapeless the buildings arose, like mountains or icebergs. O beautiful Asgard with the dome above it of  the deepest blue! Asgard with the clouds around it heaped up like mountains of diamonds! Asgard with its Rainbow Bridge and its glittering  gates! O beautiful Asgard, could it be indeed that these Giants would one day overthrow you?" from The Children of Odin, by Padraic Colum  1920

Some of the races of Nordic myth are shown below, Elves, Giants and dwarfs - mainstays of  today's fantasy literature were believed to be real by the ancient heathens. 

"Alfsigr, the Elf Maiden" MMXIV

 

"Fafnir, the Storm Giant" MMXII

 

"Guardians of the Nebelung Treasure" MMXIV

"The Temptation of Iðunn" MMXIII

 

 

Iðunn and the Golden Apples

       Iðunn,  Idunn, (means "forever young" pr. EE-doon aka Iduna, Idunna or Ithun) was the goddess of youth, fertility and regeneration as well as the wife of Bragi. Iðunn appears in the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna and appears in some modern editions of the Poetic Edda, in the late poem Hrafnagaldr Óðins. The Aesir maintained their immortality by eating the golden apples of the sweet and beautiful goddess Iðunn. The giants coveted her apples and while on an expedition with Odin one of them captured Loki in the form of a giant eagle and terrified him into promising to trick Idunn into coming to a place where they could kidnap her by taking him in his claws and flying miles in the air and threatening to throw him to his death. 

   Of course Loki succeeded in tempting her with lies of even more sumptuous apples than hers and it turned into more of a disaster than even he feared. The Aesir quickly began to grow old and gray and their wrath was so fierce Loki took Freyja's flying cloak and sought to rescue Iðunn from the land of Jötunheimr. Iðunn had refused to give the apples to the Jötuns and when they took them by force they did not work, they found they must come from her hand with her blessing to bestow their gifts. Loki found her and rescued her - flying back to Asgard in a frenzied race that led to of all things- a wedding contest with a giantess, but that's other story.

 

 

 The Binding of Fenrir

Fenrisúlfr (Old Norse: "Fenris wolf") The Binding of Fenrir, or How Tyr lost his hand. Tyr was the Viking god of war, Justice and heroic glory and portrayed with only one hand. He was also the brother of Thor and son of Odin and renowned for his swordsmanship. Tacitus called him the German Mars. After the Norn sisters prophesied that the Fenrir Wolf would set Ragnarok in motion, Odin was saddened. He loved the playful cub as a favorite. The Völva also foretells that Odin will be consumed by Fenrir at Ragnarök: "Then is fulfilled Hlín's second sorrow, when Óðinn goes to fight with the wolf, and Beli's slayer, bright, against Surtr. Then shall Frigg's
sweet friend fall."
The Aesir tried to shackle him but he broke their strongest chains with ease. Every effort to retrain him failed. The dwarfs were then called upon to fashion a magical ribbon they called Gleipnir. It appeared quite ordinary but was made of six wondrous ingredients: the roots of a mountain, the sound of a cat's footstep, the beard of a woman, bear's sinews, bird's saliva and fish's breath.  Fenrir's pride was equaled only by his strength and he was dared into a contest to break the cord. Fearing treachery he insisted someone put their hand in his mouth to ensure fair play. Only Tyr was brave enough to accept the wolf's challenge and when Fenrir realized he had been tricked he became enraged and bit off Tyr's hand and swallowed it in an instant! The Aesir banished Loki's other children but kept a close eye on the mighty Fenrir Wolf keeping him in Asgard.

 

"The Binding of the Fenris Wolf"

 

 

"The Dragon Níðhöggr" MMXI

 

The Dragon Níðhöggr

   "The Dragon Níðhöggr" (nēd'hœg-arr) is another illustration based on the prose and poetic Edda of Norse mythology, compiled and written in the 13th century from surviving traditional sources by Snorri Sturluson.  Here the serpent is shown in an icy subterranean cavern roaring in defiance before returning to gnawing at the root of the world tree, named Yggdrasill.  In Norse myth, Nidhoggr or"the tearer of corpses" is a gigantic and monstrous serpent-like creature that gnaws continually and persistently at the deepest root of the World Tree, threatening to destroy it. The serpent is always bickering with the eagle that resides near the highest part of the tree. Nidhoggr lies on Nastrond in Miflhiem and eats corpses to sustain itself. It is not the only serpent whose mission it is to destroy the World Tree; the other dragons include Grafvolluth, Graback, Goin and Moin.

   Yggdrasill (Old Norse: Ig-ID-rass-il). The immense world tree is at the very center and heart of Norse cosmology; and surrounding the tree are nine worlds. The gigantic ash tree is extremely sacred. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to hold court. The branches of Yggdrasil reach up into the heavens, and the tree is fed by three roots that extend far away; one to the well Urðarbrunnr, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Many creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the wyrm (dragon) Níðhöggr, Odin's mystical eagle, and the stags Duraþrór, Dáinn, Dvalinn, and Duneyrr .

 

 

 

Freyja, Fairest of the Asynjur

 

"Freyja's Chariot" MMXIII

 

Close-up from "Freyja's Chariot" MMXIII

 

"Freyja, goddess of Love and Beauty" MMXIII

 

 

   Freyja, (Freya, Freyia) in Norse mythology, the goddess of love and beauty and sister of Frey. (There are other spellings and variations depending on various geographical locations.) She was the northern Venus and the most beautiful of all the Nordic goddesses.  She was married to Odur the god of sunshine, but he left her to roam in distant lands. She followed him, weeping teardrops that changed to gold in the rocks and amber in the sea. She was highly prized by everyone in the nine worlds for her charm and beauty. Freyja was unexpectedly demanded as a wife in payment by the Giant who built the walls around Asgard and trades were offered for her hand in marriage. 

      As Valfrya, leader of the Valkyries, she also rode to the battlefield in her chariot, drawn by two cats, going there to claim the slain. These she feasted in her great banqueting hall while Odin, chief god of the Aesir, transported all the others to Valhalla. 

   Some sources say it is Freyja that provided the Aesir with the golden apples that ensured their eternal youth and power (not Iðunn). Freyja's abduction by the shape shifting Storm Giant Fafner and his brother Fasolt after the completion of Valhalla was devastating to the Aesir, who begin aging at once. When she was captured by Fafnir and Fasolt the Jötung and held hostage in demand for the Ring of the Nibelung her abscence caused the gods to begin to grow old and die; to fade into legend. "The Twilight of the gods". In later mythology, Freyja is often confused with Frigg, Odin's wife.

The Embodiment of Winter

"Skadi the Huntress of the Great North" MMXIV

 

Skaði (AKA Skathi, Skadi, and Skade,) was a Jötunn and a Norse goddess ~ a huntress renowned for her skill at bow hunting and skiing and was the embodiment of winter and associated with mountains. Her father was the giant Thiazi, who kidnapped the goddess Iðunn in the form of a giant eagle and was slain by the Aesir. 

To appease her they offered her a choice of the gods as a husband. Favoring Baldur, she accepted but was tricked into a contest seeing only the men's feet. Thinking she had spotted Baldur, she chose Njord, the god of the sea. Their marriage was a disaster. Njord wished to live in Noatun in his palace by the sea. An agreement was made to spend nine days in the mountains and followed with nine days by the sea. Eventually, Skadi left Njord. Different traditions vary in who she remarried with, one states she married Uller [AKA Ull] another winter divinity in whom she would have had much in common. 


There is also a popular tradition that Skadi later married the god Odin and bore him numerous children, from one of which descends the line of Hladir jarls. While she is not one of the most famous of the Norse goddesses, she had a devoted following.

Erda, Queen of the Aesir, Mother of Thor

"Erda, wife of Odin, Mother of Thor" MXMI

  Erda, Odin's wife was an Earth goddess of ancient wisdom. A giantess. An earth-goddess and goddess of wisdom. Daughter of Annar and Nott. Daughter of Odin, some say. First wife of Odin. Mother of Thor. In some stories, she is the daughter of the giantess Fiorgyn and the mother of Frigga, in others she is Fiorgyn. In some accounts, she was one of the Asynjur.  She is also called Jord, Jordh, and Fiorgyn(n). 

The original Valkyries were Odin and Erda's nine beautiful daughters, who rode winged horses down a rainbow bridge to Earth to collect the souls of the bravest warriors to share in the fellowship of the great hall of the dead- Valhalla.  Later their numbers were added to with the finest of mortal women and others.

  Those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, also served unlimited meat and drink all night to the Viking slain, these fallen, called the einherjar would fight all day training for Ragnarok, the great end times battle and then be healed of their wounds only to do it all again, growing ever sharper in Odin's army.

A young Thor- "Thor vs. the Fire Trolls" MMI

 
 

The Valkyries

The name Valkyrie comes from the Old Norse Valkyrja meaning "chooser of the slain") and they actually did often determine who lived and died on the battlefield. Scholars have suggested kinships and similarities between the Valkyries, the Norns, the Dísir, Germanic Seeresses, and Shield maidens.

 

"Valkyrie Maiden" (MMX mixed media)

 

Die Götterdämmerung" (MMXIII mixed media)

 

 

 

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"The World Tree 

Yggdrassill, or "Mimir's tree"  is also called both Vedurglasir and Aurglasir.  In the Eddas, Snorri Sturluson's 13th century epics on old Norse lore,  we are informed that Glasir is another the name of the tree that grows outside of Valhalla and it has golden leaves, and  is also called Laeredr in Grimnismal.    These names Vedurglasir and Aurglasir, when taken together can be translated as "weather-glasir" or the part of the tree exposed to the wind and weather, and "mud-glasir" the part of the tree that lies in the "muck" (aur-, the same substance used to water Yggdrassill).

"The Heathen View of the Cosmos" MMXIV

   

    The tree itself is Glasir, "Glassy". Snorri tells us that when the water from Urd's well, mixed with this muck, made the tree as transparent as the inner lining of an eggshell. 

      In Saxo's account of the underworld, the roots of the world-tree dangling down into the world-wells are seen as bundles of silver rings hanging down into the water. Animals of all kinds devour Yggdrasill's branches and tender shoots and the squirrel Ratatoskr carries insults from one to the other. At its deepest depth the  dragon, Niðhǫggr with an unnamed serpent are continuously gnawing together at its roots. At the uppermost branch of the tree sits a great eagle whose wings beat to send the winds down to the world of men while Æsir King Odin looks down upon the worlds from Asgard from his  throne.

"Ymir and Auðumbla in Ginnungagap" MMIV

 

 

 For more on the Valkyries and other Norse Legends, as well as Slavic, even Finno-Ugaric Legends- keep scrolling down...

 

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"The Epic of Beowulf"

 

 

 "On my Honor" Featuring the Legendary Norse hero, Beowulf. (or Bjolfr in Icelandic)

 

  "The Epic of Beowulf " is easily the most precious relic of Old English and of all early Germanic Literature. It has come down to us intact and well preserved in a manuscript dated ca. 1000 A.D. and is in the British Museum in London today.

The Subject of the Poem is the exploits of the Viking Warrior Beowulf, son of Egtheow and nephew of Hygelac, King of the Geatas, which Scandanavian records tell us resided in Gautar, in southern Sweden.

Beowulf and 14 companions sailed to Denmark to pledge his protection to Hrothgar, King of the Danes, whose hall (called Heorot and pictured to the left) has been rendered uninhabitable by the ravages of a devouring monster in human form named Grendel, (Grinder) who dwelt in the wastelands and under cover of night forced entrance to the hall and slaughtered the inhabitants. The Danes retired to safety while Beowulf and his fellows feasted in the hall and waited to face Grendel alone. Beowulf tore his arm from his shoulder, mortally wounding him and tracked him to the lair of his mother the Sea Hag and slew her as well after she had retaliated  for Grendel's death. Richly rewarded by the king he returned home to a throne of his own and ruled prosperously for 50 years until he did battle with a ferocious and terrifying fire breathing Dragon. He overcame it but suffered a mortal wound in the struggle. Amid great lamentation he was placed on a great funeral pyre and burned and the Dragon's treasure was buried along with his ashes.

 Scholars assure us that due to the forms of the Scandinavian names in the Old English poem that it could not have been written later than the early seventh century A.D. and was based on oral traditions of Old Heathen Poetry. Naturally a document this old has some minor controversies (Like the Iliad) because parts of it are also records of genuine history.

      ~  Some key sources include: R.P. Wilker; Grundriss der Angelsachsischen Litteratur (1882) and Beowulf, Untersuchungen uber das Angelsachsische Epos (1889) G.Sarrazin Beowulf-studien (1888) R.W. Chambers, Beowulf, An introduction to the Poem (1921)

 

 

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"The Ring Cycle"

"Whosoever will renounce love and make a ring from the gold will rule the world."

 

 

    The enormously popular "Lord of the Rings" is largely based on the 13th century Nibelungenlied saga from a Middle High German epic poem. It also draws upon the varying folklore of Northern Europe. Odin was the Scandinavian father god and his favorite mortal  was Siegfried (or Sigurd in the Volsunga Saga from Iceland) and is the chief hero and Dragon Slayer of all Norse Mythology.

   Due to the oral traditions of the Nordic Tribes before the coming of a standard written language several versions still exist of the same stories. In one version, Siegfried is the prince of the Netherlands who acquires the treasure of the Nibelungs by killing it's quarrelsome custodians in a cavern. He visits the court of Queen Brünhild of Iceland, who has vowed only to marry a man that can best her. Siegfried bests her by trickery, then infuriates her by departing without marrying her.  An epic tale of heroism and treachery, romance and revenge, The Ring of the Nibelung or The Nibelungenlied has entertained listeners and readers for centuries. 

    It is best known to modern audiences as the source for The Ring Cycle - a series of four operas in the 1860's by Richard Wagner;   "Die Nibelungenlied" or The song of the Nibelung: The Rhiengold, The Valkyrie, Sigfried, and The Twilight of the gods. "The Ride of the Valkyries", Opera prelude has always been an inspiration to me and remains one of my favorites. 

"Valkyrie Maiden" (MMX version mixed media)

  Here in "Valkyrie Maiden" ( above right) We see a Valkyrie approaching a battlefield to claim the valiant dead and take them to Valhalla, the home of the Norse gods to commune with Odin, Thor and other noteables of the pantheon...

 

"Kreimhilde's Revenge" the MVI version (Mixed Media)

 

    In the Wagnerian Opera version, Siegfried fell passionately in love with Brünhilde, who was Odin's daughter and captain  of the Valkyries.  Unlike the Greek & Roman myths, these Norse myths vary drastically in details, names, and spellings depending on their country of origin due to the use of oral tradition rather than written language. 

     The Silent films "Seigfreid" and Kreimhild's Revenge" from the German expressionist cinema movement are still amazing works of art and highly enjoyable to watch today. I was astonished when I first saw them how different the story was than the one I was familiar with. They influenced me a great deal but not as much as the Wagnerian version I met through the illustrations of the great Arthur Rackham. His work has influenced me more than any other.

   The same early legends and semi- historical accounts gave birth to all the different variations. These diverse orators hailed from  the British Isles, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland, Holland, Denmark, Russia, Finland, and even Flemish-speaking communities in Italy and France as well as faraway lands such as America and Africa due to wide-spread migration.

The Ring Cycle ( The Wagnerian Version )

Das Rheingold ( The Rhine Gold ). For eons the Rhine maidens guarded the gold that gleams on a rock above the Rhine River. Alberich, one of the Nibelung dwarfs, steals the gold. His bother, mime, makes the ring. Odin ( Wotan, Woten ) king of the gods tricks the Nibelungs out of the ring. He gives it to the  giants, Fasolt and Fafnir for building the home of the gods, Valhalla high above the clouds. Alberich screams a death curse on the ring. Odin then sought to have his earth-son Siegmund regain the ring from Fafnir, the Storm giant who had earlier kidnapped Freyja and had transformed himself into a dragon with a magic helmet. Erda predicts the fall of the gods if Alberich regains the ring. The Norse gods were not all- powerful.

 

   

Die Walküre ( The Valkyrie )

 

       The captain of the Valkyries was Brünhilde, the eldest. From the fields of battle they carried slain heroes up to Valhalla. Every day the slain would do battle on the great plain, and every night, their wounds would heal. Odin often joined them in the feasting and drinking of mead, a strong form of alcohol. Human sacrifice to the gods was also a part of the practice of this ancient religion. 

While seeking the ring, Brünhilde was commanded by Odin to protect Siegmund from Hundling, his rival. Siegmund  and Hundling's wife Sieglinde fell in love and the goddess of marriage complelled Odin to protect Hundling. In pity for Siegmund, Brünhilde guards him. Odin then helps Hundling slay Siegmund. to punish Brünhilde, Odin puts her to sleep on a rock surrounded by fire, not to awaken until a hero claims her. Sieglinde, carrying the pieces of Siegmund's magic sword, Nöthung, escapes to take refuge near Fafnir's cave, where she will give birth to Sigfried.

 

 

 

    Siegfried

 

   Young Siegfried was raised by Mime, a Nibelung dwarf, who plans to use him to gain the ring for himself. Working at his forge in a cave in the great forest, Mime tries in vain to rejoin the pieces Siegmund's sword hoping Siegfried could kill Fafnir with it. Mime wins a wager with a wanderer, ( Odin in disguise ) and the god tells the dwarf that only a warrior who has never learned fear could re-forge the magic sword.  Siegfried manages to forge the pieces of his father's blade together and becomes the mortal favorite of Odin, receiving many blessings such as a Valkyrian flying horse.  

 

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As a young man, he slays the dragon, Fafnir and seizes the ring. A bath in the dragon's blood makes him impervious to injury everywhere save one small spot where a leaf has clung to his back. He accidentally tastes Fafnir's blood which gives him the power to understand the forest birds. He learns of Mime's plan to kill him for the ring, and Siegfried kills him first. In a rocky wilderness, Odin calls Erta up from the Earth. He tells her that, far from fearing the twilight of the gods, he desires it. He allows Siegfried to keep the ring by means of which he and Brünhilde will be able to master the world. A bird leads Siegfried to the sleeping Brünhilde. Siegfried plunges through the fire and rouses Brünhilde with a kiss.

 

 

"Siegfried and Fafnir" [MMIV mixed media]

 

"The Blood of the Dragon" [MMIV mixed media]

 

"Siegfried and Brünhilde" [MMIII [MMIII mixed media]

 

" The Immolation of "Brünhilde" [MMXIII

 

 

Die Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the gods )

 

   Later, when Brünhilde sends Siegfried on a Rhine journey he meets the sons of Alberich the nibelung, Hagen, Gunther, and Gutrune. He is tricked into drinking a potion by Hagen that destroys his memory and then he is deceived into betraying Brünhilde.  He regains his memory and is stabbed in the back by Hagen. Gunther was then killed in a struggle for the ring. When Brünhilde learns that Siegfried had been tricked into betraying her, she takes the ring from his finger and rides up onto his funeral pyre. In this picture above, she takes pause to look back and see Valhalla burning in the distance and knows the gods are destroyed.  

 

 

 

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Other legends of the ancient Teutons...

 

 

Kriemhilde's Revenge - (from earlier versions of The Nibelungenlied )

 

THE REVENGE OF KRIEMHILDE:

  The Lady Kriemhilde (A.K.A. Grimhild, Hild, Brünhild) Her name means ‘armored warrior woman’ and the English word Grim derives from her name too. In her earliest legends she was originally a daemonic mythical figure representing darkness and death.

Like the legendary King Arthur, she was also a historical figure, wife of Attila the Hun and sister of Gunther. (453 A.D.) She marries Attila in one reliable historical account and kills him in revenge for the death of her former husband on their wedding night.

I have illustrated her here in the 13th century Middle High German mythic version preparing to confront her cowardly brothers with her dead husband’s shield and sword, demanding action! Siegfried was the Nordic people’s greatest hero and chief dragonslayer his story is similar to The Iliad and the Odessey of the Greeks. In another version she demands revenge for her murdered father. She is depicted here as the heroine of the The Nibelungenlied, greatest epic of Teutonic Mythology.

 

 

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"The Kalevala Epic"

of Finno-Ugric Mythology

 

      Bearing similarities to the most ancient and the most modern of gods and heroes, Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen are two of the main characters from the Finnish Kalevala Saga which tells the story of a heroic quest to heal the land and restore the mystical Sampo, [a type of Holy Grail] said to bring peace and prosperity to the land of its holders. Like Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece [another Holy Grail type]they travel and sail round the world fighting monsters and the like until they at last claim their prize.  Lemminkäinen and Odin's son Balder from Norse mythology share several commonalities in their respective myths such as being killed by a blind man at a feast of the gods, which has influenced many scholars to believe they evolved from the same origins.

 

 

 

 "Lemminkäinen" MMXII "Väinämöinen" MMXII

"Väinämöinen" MMXII from "The Kalevala" [above right] was originally a Finnish god, he was the pattern for wizards in fantasy literature, first and foremost among them Gandalf in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings as well as Sauromon the white, while "Lemminkäinen" [above left] the brash young hero eager to prove himself by joining the quest for the magical Sampo was to be the prototype of characters so common to today's fantasy and adventure stories.

 

Magical Ladies of The Forest

 

 

 

"The Protector of the Forest" MMX "Baba Yaga" MMX

               

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All these pieces of realistic art and the text are legally copyrighted and were registered with the U.S. Library of Congress Office of Copyright by the author, Howard David Johnson All rights reserved worldwide. 

Howard David Johnson's works have been published all over the world. With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels & colored pencils, he 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 and is always experimenting, sometimes re-working existing pictures in various different media such as * Oil paintings * Acrylic Paintings * Prismacolor Paintings * Drawings * Chalk & Oil Pastel Paintings * Photography * Digital Artistry & Mixed Media * 

Who is American Illustrator Howard David Johnson?

In David's invitation 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."

  A Traditional style portrait of the artist. [Photo by his son Erich.]

      Howard David Johnson is a contemporary realistic artist and photographer with a background in the natural sciences and history.  After a lifetime of drawing and painting, David works in a wide variety of mixed media ranging from oil on canvas to digital media.

   David'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. David's realistic illustrations have made appearances in every major bookstore and game shop chain in America as well as magazines and educational texts around the world. 

     Some of his more prestigious clients have included the National Geographic Society, the University of Texas, the University of Cambridge in England, Paramount Studios, Universal Studios, PBS TV, Enslow Educational Publishers, Adobe Photoshop, Auto FX,  Doubleday, the History Book of the Month Club, & J Walter Thompson Advertising, just to name a few.  Working in a variety of media David offers his customers a variety of options and more than three decades of experience. As a realistic illustrator he has not only used the computer but has been involved in the development and marketing of software for Adobe Photoshop. Digital art, Colored pencils, Pastels, Mixed media, & also Oil Paintings can also be commissioned for select projects. 

Digital illustration projects start at $500.USD. and group rates are available. David delivers custom made copyright free illustrations & old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire. To publish existing pieces of his realistic art, David sells licenses starting at only $99.USD.

info@howarddavidjohnson.com

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"Lo there, do I see my father- Lo there do I see my mother and my sister and my brothers - Lo there I do see the line of my people back to the beginning - Lo they do call to me - they bid me to take my place among them - in the hallowed  halls of Valhalla -  where the brave shall live forever!" ~ Reconstruction of a Viking Funeral Prayer



Primary Sources: [Norse Mythology]

THE EDDAS ~ The Poetic Edda & The Prose Edda ~ Eddic Manuscripts / Manuscripts of Snorra Edda
Translations into English / Individual Eddic Poems 

THE SAGAS ~  Icelandic Sagas and Thættir Fornaldarsögur & Riddarasögur

Artistic Acknowledgements:

         These Mythic Art creations take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as the film West Side Story came from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, who in turn copied it from Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Our shared cultural heritage, great works of art, literature, music and drama, cinema, folk tales and fairy tales are all drawn upon again and again by the creators of new works. These works in the public domain are both a catalyst and a wellspring for creativity and innovation. Where would Walt Disney be without the Brothers Grimm  Hans Christian Anderson, or Victor Hugo? Where would Aaron Copeland have been without American folk music?  Or Thomas Nast's Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Pablo Picasso without aboriginal African art? Public domain appropriators, one and all. When America was formed, copyright law was created to promote the public creativity and had 14 year terms to reward the creators, but now with 100 plus year terms very little is currently allowed to enter into the public domain and its preservation is of the utmost urgency to our future cultural well-being.  In keeping with art tradition and etiquette following the exhibit , I mention some of the artists and writers that have influenced me the most; William Bouguereau, John William Waterhouse, Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin, Edmund Blair Leighton,  Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham,  Arthur Hughes, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Viktor Vasnetsov, Jean Auguste Ingres, Anthony Van Dyke,  Lawrence Alma-Tadema,  Wallace Wood, Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, Ray Harryhausen, H.G. Wells, Gustave Moreau, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Will Durant, The Pre- Raphaelites, The Symbolists, et al. 

Thank You For Visiting the Paintings of Norse Myths and Legends Art Gallery of Howard David Johnson... for essays and articles scroll down...

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ABOUT THE ARTIST

 

"Those who are enamoured of practice without science are like a pilot who goes into a ship without rudder or compass and never has any certainty where he is going. Practice should always be based upon a sound knowledge of theory, of which perspective is the guide and gateway, and without it nothing can be done well in any kind of painting."

Howard David Johnson is a contemporary 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. Recently he shot hundreds of aerial photos of clouds at marvelous angles and perspectives and also looking down on the mighty mountains, rivers, and deserts of the American west while flying from Texas to Oregon and back for dynamic source material for realistic flying scenes in upcoming paintings , drawings, and pictures. 

His 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. `fig.0003-3a.jpg (47139 bytes)

     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. He loves to paint custom oil paintings and accepts commissions with down payments starting at one thousand dollars. On his existing works his low cost license offers start at only 100 dollars.

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All  paintings, pictures, & text  (c)  2004-14 Howard David Johnson All rights reserved

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Bonus Section:

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

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 absttactions.

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!"

"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 Numérique )

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

~Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

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

~ Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language

~Dierdre of the Sorrows copy.jpg (49196 bytes)

Pastel, Acrylics, and Colored Pencils combined

     Snobbism in the arts is nothing new. Some people will tell you that oils are the only valid medium for realistic paintings. That Colored Pencil, Digital, and other Realistic Painting and Drawing Media are not valid  for "real" art. Young artists, Don't let them bother you. Their forerunners used to condemn Pastels before they gained acceptance and called them "crayons" when Johann Alexander Thiele (1685-1752) invented them.  Mercilessly disrespectful  art critics of the time could not stop the Experimentalists no matter how viciously they attacked and derided them. "Crayon-painting" as it was called in England was practiced early on by persecuted pioneers in Switzerland and many other nations. What a debt we owe to these master artists who refused to knuckle under to the pressure of those short-sighted critics during those historic and experimental times. It took until 1870 with the founding of the "Societe` Des Pastellistes" in France that respect came  at last to these heroic & immortal visual artists.

        In England the liberation of the Pastellists from slight regard and undeserved disrespect came with the first exhibition of "The Pastel Society" at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1880. Pastel Painters like Mary Cassat and others from America and other nations forever silenced  the snobs with their masterworks and gained recognition at long last for Thiele's invention as a valid art medium. I am persuaded that history will repeat itself.  Like Pastels, I believe these wonderful new colored pencils and even Digital Realistic Art Media will one day receive the recognition they deserve as powerful mediums of artistic expression just as pastel paintings did. What is your definition of art? Have you thought about it?

Mine is: "anything that makes you feel or think."

     Consider dancing... it can be a little skip in the step or rise to the level of the incomparable Russian Ballet. Did you know that just the materials alone for a single oil painting cost up to a thousand dollars these days? Even paying the artist less than minimum wage no one but the super rich can afford them anymore. Something's got to give. Realistic paintings in oil have been highly prized for centuries and the appeal and following of realistic art is undiminished to this day. Oil paintings featuring Abstract Art and Realistic Art are generally the most treasured form of all the visual art media and with good reason. But snobbish art critics  favoring abstract art have declared  that realistic paintings, or illustrations are not art for a century. With so many representationalist  paintings by so many immortal master artists hanging in the Louvre, the Hermitage, and the British Museum and others I think the disrespect for realistic illustrators that dominated the 20th century is academically ridiculous as well as vain and intolerant, insisting theirs is the only valid opinion. What is your definition of Art? I believe almost any form of human expression can be raised to the level of "high art" especially  visual art and Realistic illustration...

~Dierdre of the Sorrows detail.jpg (59016 bytes)

The detail reveals Realistic art and abstract art combined

       By my own definition of art, which is: "anything that makes you feel or think" most abstract paintings are not "real art" to me personally, because abstract paintings usually neither make me feel or think,  usually focusing obsessively on technique and avoiding any coherent content. I usually draw a complete blank mentally and emotionally when I look at them. In 1979 the Houston Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed a triptych of 3 giant   paintings they paid fifty thousand dollars for-  three blank white canvasses entitled "untitled". Then there was "The incredible new artistic Genius" with an I.Q. of 62 ...Congo the chimpanzee with his gala New York art 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?

~HDJ

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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.

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 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

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_Myths & Legends of the Ancient Norsemen.gif (3042 bytes)

Illustrations of Norse Mythology.jpg (39039 bytes)

A.K.A. Teutonic Mythology - Nordic Mythology - Scandinavian Mythology - Norse Myths - Myths of the Vikings -  Legends of the Aesir and the Jötung

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