Realistic Art Technique & Style: Howard David Johnson on Classical & Representational Art with Essays and Links to Admission Free Art Galleries - some of the deepest secrets of Realistic Art Technique with emphasis on Art Theory revealed. 

Newly Updated! ~ but first a very Brief Biography of the artist:



Howard David Johnson was born in Germany in the mid-fifties. The son of an American Career Air Force officer and College Professor, he grew up traveling and living on military bases around the world. He was most influenced by the art and culture in the Mediterranean & Central Europe. Drawing and painting every available moment of his childhood while experiencing the old world, he worked with any and all art mediums he could get his hands on. 
howard david johnson 1982 portrate

A portrait of HDJ as a young man (1982 photo)

 He devoted his life to art  at the age of six in spite of stubborn opposition from his parents, who insisted that earning a living as an artist was absolutely impossible. David responded by working even harder, hoping to earn their respect and approval. His mother worried that practicing with such passion and driving motivation ( 4 - 12 hours most days ) was sure to hurt him in the long run.

His Mother, Louise, a talented artist herself, always encouraged him and never missed an opportunity to take him along to a site or a museum to acquaint him with his Old World Traditional spiritual and cultural heritage along the way. Although he loved the travel, he is a seventh generation Texan, and was thrilled to finally come back home to Texas at the age of 14.

    Inspired by genealogical novels of American authors, Johnson has gone after the roots of his Anglo-Saxon Heritage (Scots-Irish and Germanic) and found, that although neglected, it is a rich heritage indeed- and that there are many other worthwhile cultural and spiritual heritages to share, explore, celebrate and preserve through the arts.

He is a of direct line ancestor of Mary, Queen of Scots, of  Robert the Bruce & the elder William Brewster ( the preacher on the Mayflower ). His mother, an author & genealogist has documented his lineage for the Sons of the American Revolution, The Sons of the Republic of Texas, The Sons of the Confederate Veterans and other American religious and  patriotic organizations. 

    His passions include his family and philosophy, art and education. He is also an avid outdoorsman and committed to good citizenship. He passed this on by working twelve years with inner city lower income youth as a Boy Scout Master and Commissioner. His hobbies include reading classic literature, art, and history books, as well as collecting films and music. David & his beloved wife Virginia (also descended from Mary, Queen of Scots ) have been married since 1982. He lives a reclusive lifestyle in the Treasure Valley of Idaho.


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As a boy exploring Roman ruins in North Africa (1965 photo)

    Who is American Illustrator Howard David Johnson?

Howard David Johnson is a contemporary realistic artist and photographer with a background in the natural sciences and history. David works in a wide variety of mixed media ranging from oil on canvas to digital media.  After a lifetime of drawing and painting, 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. He earns his living taking on select commissions, selling prints and licenses to publish his works and teaching art. He works in a wide variety of mixed media ranging from oil on canvas to digital media. 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. 


"Faerie Guardians" is a traditional painting (20x16 oil on canvas) 


A traditional style portrait of the artist in his painting studio. 


"Elven Fairy Magic" is a Prismacolor painting (art on bristol)


Some of David's more prestigious clients have included the University of Texas, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England, The Australian Mint, The National Geographic Society, Paramount Studios, Universal Studios, MGM Studios, Warner Brothers Home Video, ABC/Disney, CBS TV, PBS TV, The History Channel, Enslow Educational Publishers, Adobe Photoshop, Auto FX, Tree-Free Greeting, Verizon wireless, Apple IPOD, Penguin, Doubleday (Now Random House), Harlequin Top Historical Romances, and the History Book of the Month Club, as well as appearing in periodical publications like Popular Photography and the Wall Street Journal.   After a lifetime of drawing and painting, David's Traditional 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. Working in a variety of media David offers his customers a variety of options and more than three decades of experience. As an 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.U.S. 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. 







Just below are examples of "Prismacolor Paintings" AKA Colored Pencils on Bristol Board:


"Caesar's Conquests", "The Spirits of the Prophets at Calxary"and  "Napoleon at Waterloo"



 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.  Snobbism in the arts is nothing new. Some people will tell you that oils are the only valid medium for realistic paintings. Keep scrolling down for more information about how he works and discussions of relevant issues connected with his realistic art...


     alimo battle painitng mixican army        

  Examples of Johnson's Digital Illustrations: " The American victory at Saratoga" "The Siege of the Alamo" and "1st Marines Assault on Peleliu Beach"

With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels & colored pencils, Howard David Johnson embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his depictions of fantasy, folklore, mythology, legend, religion, and heroic history. He works in and mixes a wide variety of media * Oil paintings * Acrylic Paintings * Prismacolor Paintings * Drawings * Chalk & Oil Pastel Paintings * Photography * Digital Artistry & Mixed Media * 


     Below is an Example of an illustration rendered in his three favorite mediums for comparison...

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




"Valkyrie Maiden", "Atalanta" and "Hagar and the Angel in the Wilderness" (2010-17 in Mixed Media including oils, 2D and 3D digital)



"Ezekiel's Vision" ,"The Resurrection of Christ "MMX  and "Into the Lake of Fire" MMX (all Mixed Media)

  There is a school of thought that seems to think that a caveman’s beating on a hollow log with a stick is automatically superior to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony performed by the world’s finest symphony orchestra because less technology is involved. I do not subscribe to this kind of thinking. Personally I LOVE computers! First of all, there’s the freedom from fear! The undo button is empowering and liberating! More importantly, publishing customers can't afford to pay me for old-fashioned traditional methods like oil on canvas. I can do them, and do them well, but no one but millionaire art collectors can afford to pay even poverty level hourly rates for all that time. The masters often took a year for a single painting. With digital media I can create pieces that look very nice for very nice prices and with blazing speed. The publishing industry is not noted for its patience. In the early days of my art career, mailing traditional media originals was scary at best, but now they can be scanned and shipped without risk. Also in my early days adding canvas space to a work in progress was as impossible as growing a second head... but now it is so easy I usually don't even charge extra to adapt them if its just skies or landscapes! Re-dos and revisions were financially catastrophic! No wonder the starving artist became a stereotype! Before the internet, I struggled to find customers in Austin Texas, now nearly every nation on Earth has visited my website! This was beyond my wildest imaginings as a boy. What an amazing era we live in! I love it!!!

~ Howard David Johnson


Art Technique & Style 1: Mathematics = Math Magic

Secrets of Pythagoras

  "The Golden Ratio is the mathematical heart and soul of all Classical Greek Art, Architecture, and Music ( L = w + 1/2 w ) It is what inspires me to design my images the way I do. I've used a total of Twenty-three different Geometrical design motifs such as the golden rectangle in my compositions displayed in the galleries above including these few I have explained  here..."    ~ Howard David Johnson

The Golden ratio and Fibonacci Numbers are explained with diagrams below...


"Mathematics is the alphabet with which GOD wrote the Universe" ~ Galileo


Arthur Rackham's Freia, the fair one.jpg (52838 bytes) `the goddess of youth and beauty.jpg (59669 bytes)
  David first learned the use of Classical Greek Geometry from studying the beloved British mythological and fairy tale illustrator Arthur Rackham, who dreamed of one day recreating his drawings as realistic paintings.      David has recreated a few of Rackham's visions in the way he dreamed of doing them himself before he died - with the realistic painterly style of a master like John William Waterhouse or a Lawrence Alma-Tadema

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     Centralize the figure on or near the frame's base & tie it in to the top of the frame as well to give it a sense of importance. Note the sketch book on the floor with the preliminary drawing the model is using as a guide. See the Digital media page for more on this next stage... the digital photo montage...

     The whole of the dynamic action is contained in a vertical slab, contrasted by negative space. He then assembles a variety of elements which are realistic and original and works from it in a similar manner Maxfield Parrish & other classic illustrators have used since the advent of photography in the 19th century.

 David uses Classical Greek Geometry to design all his paintings, drawings, beginning with his photographs and his digital illustrations.  His Art classes teach more of these Geometric motifs. In Daniel in the Lion's Den, The solid base of the triangle implies stability, power and strength. In this case, spiritual strength.

 'The Defense of Reorke's Drift' above features the inverted triangle design which has a completely different effect! It portrays dynamic action! Action coming right out at you or right down at you with force or with speed! A great concept for composing dramatic movement, action and especially combat.

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   He starts with a concept, then a sketch, researching or traveling to find scenes and locations. Working in his Analog Photography studio with live models from his sketches, he follows with a photo montage, combining new and very old elements to create original works.
  HDJ's Pandora's Box above is a Prismacolor Pencil 'Painting' on #400 Strathmore Bristol Board - is not at all what people think of when they hear the word 'drawing' Influences such as Waterhouse, Bouguereau, and Ingres help with inspiration and details like period clothing. 
 Finding and training the right models is the hard part, then Photography, Mathematical Design and Digital Composition all must come together before the image is transferred to paper or canvas and rendered in combinations or one of many traditional art media).

 "Pandora's Box" was rendered in nearly every media: First a sketch, then a photo, then a collage, then a Prismacolor Painting, Then finally rendered as an oil painting. (above) Painting dozens of layers of Transparent glazes of Oil  on Canvas. Only David's finest work is ever rendered in oil.


" My art is divided into two groups; personal work partially copying the old masters and professional illustration applying these lessons to create totally original works. As a student of fine art, copying is a great way to learn and create fine art, but as a professional illustrator things are very different... I start more often with a specific written request. This is the exact OPPOSITE approach to creating a picture from copying something that's there. Research comes first. In the case of the Greek Heroes to your left, there were no accurate sources available in the public domain to copy correct Greek armour and weapons in combat poses from. 

Illustration is much harder, usually starting with a description...  

   Mostly I found images of effeminate men, wearing nothing but a robe over the shoulder and the wrong helmets. Finding history books at the library with the accurate helmets, shield designs, weapons, and armour was essential to get an accurate depiction of a Greek Hoplite.   

      All the library had were stiff museum poses of anything. I hit the research jackpot with some very simplistic flat line drawings of great authentic Greek shield designs. All the elements must be found, gathered and assembled to create the dramatic action scene the client wanted. Next comes the layout. This is where the mathematics and geometric design come into the creative process. My wife took a picture of me nearly 20 years ago in a pose reminiscent of a Frank Frazetta or Norman Rockwell painting. Naturally, in these cases I go to great lengths to make sure that my work looks nothing whatsoever like it's various inspirations and sources except in flavor and spirit. Of course, the characteristic old master's painting feel to the background most of my illustrations have was requested, and the picture was to have the look and feel of a Howard Pyle painting.

When asked why I usually work from photos I like to re-tell Norman Rockwell's story about having to paint a chicken: He set it up on a stump in a barn and goes to painting. The chicken moves it's head. He moves it back. The chicken jumps down. He puts it back. He goes to paint. now the chicken decides to make a break for it... he chases it down clucking and screaming and puts it back. Now it knows he's going to have it for dinner and it goes completely berserk. The next day, he came in, put the chicken back up and snapped it's picture, and the picture held completely still... Note: When you have to paint a wombat you can't fake it- you need a picture! The law understands this; but with copyrighted sources the source image must be transformed in overall appearance in the translation so as not to be "confusingly similar"... if it's newer than 1928 you can bet it's probably copyrighted- if it's newer than 1999 under the millennial copyright act it is automatically copyrighted without even filing" ~HDJ
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   So - what about non-human or fantastic characters and creatures? What about  photo realistic dragons, or other  things that can't be photographed or even copied from life?  After the geometrical composition design a pencil sketch is usually employed to plan the picture. This is much in the same manner as a comic book or anime artist.  When it comes time to paint the details within the outlines he uses photos of iguanas, snakes, bats and even sources paintings to get the textures perfect... whatever it takes to create the details that make the illusion...

 'The Little People' (above left) employs Acrylic paints over a base of Colored Pencil & Soft Pastel on #400 Strathmore Bristol Board. For these complex illustrations he uses photographs to create preliminary digital photo montages, then if they are good enough, He renders them in various forms of traditional media on either paper or canvas.  

"Helen of Troy" (right) This kind of picture is really not at all what people think of when they hear the word 'drawing'. A 'Prismacolor Painting', if you will: This art medium, these relatively new soft oil based colored pencils are not the first Dry Painting Medium: the term 'Pastel Paintings' originated in the 17th century. They also are a wet medium, mixing well with a variety of solvents and applied with an artist's brush - getting very oil painting- like results in print. The sixth and final oil-on-canvas version even sports a different model and a new dress.

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

     He departs from realism sometimes for line art in colored pencil, and more often he loves mixing media. Employed also here with pencils are acrylics and soft pastels. ( Note the use of the Golden Ratio ( L = w + 1/2 w ) in the design dividing the layout of the picture. )

   The pastels are so fugitive, the original is in danger of being destroyed even before it is finished, so HDJ mixes acrylic transparentizing medium to seal and protect the finished image. Acrylic Transparentizing Medium is normally used to make acrylics transparent.

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He mixes the transparentizing medium in with the soft pastels and applies it with a brush with a stabbing, twisting motion... creating abstract art designs within the solid colors of the image and built up mixed media textures as inspired by the writings of Pablo Picasso.

It is not so much the skill at shading with colored pencil (above) or even with brush, camera or computer, but it is the mathematics in the design, the commitment to research, and the use of archetypal imagery that make Johnson's style & technique distinctive in the world of realistic art.

For Links to The Johnson Galleries and Art Essays keep scrolling down...


Secrets of Pythagoras

  "The Golden Ratio is the mathematical heart and soul of all Classical Greek Art, Architecture, and Music ( L = w + 1/2 w ) It is what inspires me to design my images the way I do. I've used a total of Twenty-three different Geometrical design motifs such as the golden rectangle in my compositions displayed in the galleries above including these few I have explained  here..."    ~ Howard David Johnson

 The Golden Ratio, The Golden Rectangle, and the Golden Section:

fibonnaci numbers & golden rectangles.GIF (1652 bytes) 

  "The Golden Ratio is the basis for the Golden Rectangle which I use to design many of my illustrations. The Golden Section as it is also called is one of the greatest secrets of the old masters.   Renaissance writers called it the divine proportion since it was found so often in the makeup of beautiful things found in nature such as a sea shell, which subdivides into beautiful patterns. Fibonacci numbers make the Golden Section very easy to understand. The Fibonacci numbers are 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ... add the last two to get the next in the succession.
      The Golden Ratio is also hidden in musical scales and Classical Greek architecture and art. Many historians assert that the properties of the golden section helped Pythagoras and his disciples to discover incommensurable lines, which are the geometric equivalents of irrational numbers. It is universally accepted that a rectangle with sides in this ratio exhibits a dynamic beauty. In mathematics, it is a geometric proportion which divides a line so that the ratio of the length of the longer line segment to the length of the entire line is equal to the ratio of the length of the shorter line segment to the length of the longer line segment. Of course it can be reversed or inverted...

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A Golden Section is created by the point C on line segment AB if AC/AB = CB/AC. This ratio has the numerical value 0.618..., and is derived like this: If AB = 1 , and the length of AC = x, then AC/AB = CB/AC becomes x/1 = ( 1 - x ) /x ; thus, x to the second power plus x - 1 = 0. ( This equation can be solved by the use of the quadratic formula ( from Algebra ) which yields this equation: x = ( - 1 +  math symbol.gif (79 bytes)5 ) /2 = 0.6180339... " ~HDJ

"Mathematics is the alphabet with which GOD wrote the Universe" ~ Galileo




Enter a world of Beauty and Imagination...


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

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

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King Arthur Legends of History

Greek Mythology

Norse Mythology Fantasy Art Celtic Mythology Religions of the World Asian Mythology Angel Art Spartan Warriors Fairy Paintings  Mythic women
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Mermaid Art  History Part Two

Digital Techniques

History of Dragons Pencil Portraits I Studio Photography Colored Pencils II

Art Instruction

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

The Seven Wonders

Science Fiction Art   Lady of Shallot
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Catholic Art  Art of the Bible Symbolist Art Surrealist Art Commercial Art Business Center Style & Technique  Biographical Paintings in Oils Russian Mythology Classic Fairy Tales Art Link Exchange

All these pieces of art and the text are legally copyrighted and were registered with the U.S. Library of Congress Office of Copyright by the author, Howard David Johnson All rights reserved worldwide. Permission for many academic or non-commercial uses is freely and legally available by simply contacting the author via e-mail or visiting






   Five pages of free art lessons are provided free of charge to aspiring artists. Click on Helen of Troy  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. 



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




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.

  Hliðskjálf the high seat of Odin

   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 many illustrations from his new books on World Myth & Legend and Fairy Tales. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters.

      To create his art works, he will start with a concept  followed by a realistic sketch, researching and traveling to find scenes and locations. Working in his Analog Photography studio with live models from his sketches,  He follows with a digitally assembled photo montage, combining original and old elements which are realistic to create a new  work. 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 digital 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. 

    HDJ's creations often take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as The Lord of the Rings came from The Ring of The Nibelung and European folklore. Just as Rubens copied Titian, Johnson copies Waterhouse and Rackham. 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. Some people are actually outraged that there are some intellectual properties that corporations do not own. They feel appropriation is only appropriate if a corporation does it. Corporations created by public domain appropriation, now are the most powerful force on Earth trying to put a stop to new things entering the public domain forever through lawsuits. The public domain is a space where intellectual property protection ( copyright ) does not apply. It was set up by our founding fathers, who felt creativity needed to be rewarded on a personal level for a time, and when copyrights and patents expired, innovations and creative works would fall into the public domain. They may then be used by anyone without permission and without the payment of a licensing fee.

Publicly owned national parks are also considered by many to be public domain lands. Because of the recent extensions of the terms of both copyrights and patents, and the privatization of lands and other resources owned by the Federal Government, little is now entering the public domain. New litigation took place in advance to keep the copyright on Mickey Mouse from expiring in 2023. This is least likely to hurt the motion picture companies who produce new works "in house" granting themselves permission, but the music industry which does not is being hit very hard already. If a new song release resembles an old one, now there is litigation. Since the public domain is a treasure trove of information and resources to be used by future generations, many advocates are concerned that its stagnation will make it more and more difficult for future generations to find creative inspiration. David has built up an enormous library of original source photos to use in his realistic art. For decades seeking out the most beautiful models and bringing them in for sessions in his photography studio. Using a strategy employed by J. W. Waterhouse, (the old master he imitates most) his wistful and graceful models cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the stunning beauty and the potential for lasting appeal of his work.


    His favorite medium for realistic art has long been 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.  (right) In the last 35 plus years he has also mastered Oils, Pastels, Acrylics, Watercolors, Inks, Scratch board, Gouache, Photography, and has fallen in love with the highly controversial digital media. Working in a realistic style inspired by classic illustrators David 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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     since 1974 when he began his art career as a scientific illustrator for the University of Texas he has earned his living in a variety of ways including 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... David'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 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 custom made copyright free illustrations and old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire.

      David accepts select commissions to paint custom oil paintings with down payments starting at only one thousand dollars.  Other media, like colored pencils or digital are of course far less expensive. 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 $99.USD.

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




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

from the Four Corners of the Earth

My Friends from around the world thus far :

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

Thank You for Visiting the Art Technique & Style page of Howard David Johnson...




What is YOUR definition of ART?


( A Brief essay dealing with attitudes toward Realistic Art and prior developments in technology in history)

"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 large oil painting cost up to a thousand dollars these days? Did you know that they are toxic? 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. I absolutely adore great abstract painters like Van Gogh and Picasso. Snobbish art critics  favoring abstract art have declared  that realistic paintings, or illustrations are not "real 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, since most abstract paintings usually neither make me feel or think,  generally 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 elaborate prank played on these 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, Michelangelo, 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.

But how does this new Digital Art media fit in with formal definitions of Art?

    Art ( noun ) [ Middle English, from Old French, from Latin ars (stem art-). ] 1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature. 2. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty; specifically, the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium. 3. The product of these activities; human works of beauty, collectively. 4. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value. 5. Any field or category of art, such as painting, music, ballet, or literature. 6. A non-scientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts. 7. a. A system of principles and methods employed in the performances of a set of activities: the art of building. b. A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: pursuing the baker's art. 8. A specific skill in adept performance, conceived as requiring the exercise of intuitive faculties that cannot be learned solely by study: the art of writing letters. 9. a. Usually plural.  Artful devices; stratagems; tricks. b. Artfulness; contrivance; cunning. 10. In printing: Illustrative material as distinguished from text.

~ The American Heritage College Dictionary of the English Language


Special note: 21st century professional art critics are not repeating these mistakes of history and are blessing and encouraging artists working in all styles and mediums, even including digital media. To them I say: Bravo! If only our world leaders could learn from the mistakes of the past as you have.

Click Here for a Low Bandwidth Page with ALL Seven Essays by the Artist


Essay Two : The Rebirth of Realism

More thoughts on realistic art yesterday and today by the artist

Art History has entered a new era with the birth of Art Numérica, or digital art media in the 21st century. Artists never stop exploring with mediums. Artists have been developing techniques, experimenting with different tools since at least twenty- five thousand years ago, when the first artist picked up a charred stick and scratched a picture out on the wall of his cave. You'd think everything would have been tried by now, but it hasn't. Exploring new mediums this very day is just as exciting, just as full of freshness and newness as it ever was.

Photography, Drawing, Painting and Digital media combined

The creation of Realistic art has been the goal of most artists since the dawn of  civilization. Realistic art was the pride of ancient Greece. The world's greatest museums are full of realistic art. Realistic art WAS art until the advent of the abstract expressionist movement in the twentieth century. The coming of the camera in the nineteenth century changed realistic art forever. Suddenly, realistic art was not the only way to create realism in portraits and historical records. The work of the realistic artist was suddenly made into an expensive luxury. The political power of the realistic artist was broken and they were no longer an indispensable member of society. Hostility to the creators of realistic art goes back to ancient times and the jealousy of advisers to the Pharaohs and others who were not able to spend as much time with their rulers as their portraitists. Although with the aid of photographs, realistic art achieved levels of excellence undreamed of, the realistic art movement of the late nineteenth century was short. None of these realistic artists could compete with the speed and low cost of photographic portraiture. Determined to survive, great realistic artists like Pablo Picasso and other notables 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.


Photography, Drawing, Painting and Digital media combined


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. Digital art does not mean the end of time honored art traditions, but rather offers new ways to keep these schools of thought and art traditions fresh and alive.





Like so many professional illustrators, David's work is impossible to correctly assign to any single Art Movement or Style. In more than five decades of experimenting, exploring and serving customers, his works have shown tenets of the Classical Realism, Photo Realism, Fantastic Realism, Magical Realism, Surrealism, Symbolist Art and Figurative Art movements. His works have been published and distributed all over the world by distinguished learning institutions and publishers including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.



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