Mythology in Paintings & Pictures: An exhibition of Asian  Myths and Legends; Realistic Illustrations of Asian Mythology: Chinese Dragons, Japanese gods & monsters, & Asian folklore by 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.

japanese legend dragon serpant parunga

Presents: Contemporary Mythical Art Galleries

Illustrations of some of the Myths and Legends of Ancient Asia in a Gallery of New Paintings, Drawings and Pictures of the heroes, gods and goddesses in traditional oils, acrylics and digital mixed media in the style of the classic illustrators! 



Featuring realistic illustrations of Japanese, Korean, & Chinese folklore & mythology

"The Love Spell of the Tengu"  from Shinto and Buddhist traditional beliefs.



  The term Kami refers to a Shinto or Buddhist revered spirit or god. The Tengu is an example of the Buddhist or Shinto Kami of tradition and is shown here as a very angel-like nature spirit with dark wings. Tengu shape-shifted into many forms over centuries but often appeared as a monstrous anthropomorphized bird ~ usually part woman and cast diverse kinds of spells and performed mischief, not too terribly unlike the Hobgoblin of Irish fairy folklore. Originally seen by Buddhists as disruptive demons or harbringers of war, the tengu's image gradually softened into  protective (but still dangerous) spirit guardians of the forests and mountains. 

 Noted for being fond of matchmaking, this Tengu influences a  truly charmed romantic encounter in the forest. As a gesture of great respect to a beautiful lady of high social standing, the romantic Samurai bends down in the Sonkyo sitting style still used by Sumo wrestlers today, being careful not to let his knees touch the ground. The Japanese Samurai Warrior shown is in one example of traditional armour ~ this from the Momoyama period wearing a pale blue laced nuinobe fitted with a sode. Although anachronistic, these shoulder pads were still worn by people of rank.





KINTARO - From the folklore of Japan - Legendary symbol of virtue and strength

    Kintaro is a beloved legendary and symbolic figure from Japan. Like many legendary figures he appears in both history and mythology.  According to classic Japanese literature he was fathered by a great Red Dragon ( the thunder god - see below ) who visited his mountain sorceress mother in a dream. She awoke amidst powerful claps of thunder and knew at once she was with child. Kintaro means "Golden Boy" and his jealous uncle sought to kill him. His mother took him and fled into the Hakone mountains to the deepest forests of Mount Kintoki. Growing up deep in the forest his beautiful spirit caused him to become a special friend to all the wild animals, most especially the rabbits and the bears. He loved to play with his animal friends about the rocks of the Yuhi no Taki Falls.  So strong was he as a boy and so gifted at Sumo wrestling that he could throw down a bear. He was a very good boy, rosy-cheeked and chubby and always carried a hatchet, the Japanese symbol of the thunder god and is usually depicted riding his beloved bear. One day, when he was nearly grown Yorimitsu Minamoto, the strongest chief of all the Samurai returning from the east (around the 10th century) came upon Kintaro playing with his bear and tossing him about in the mountain forest.

    The great Samurai and his troop of warriors were so delighted to meet such a fine young man with such good manners that they took him immediately to heart!  So sure were they that it was God's providence that they enlisted him at once to become one of his retainers.   As legend has it, Kintaro then changed his name to Kintoki and served his new master  with legendary distinction...  To this day, when a Japanese baby boy is born his room is often decorated on Boy's day (May 5th ) with a small Kintaro figurine symbolizing the ideal balance of the masculine virtue of great strength with gentleness.


SUSANUO - From Dark Japanese myths and legends of gods and monsters

  Susanuo; a much more ancient variation of the universal thunder god legend from world mythology:

     One of the greatest characters from Japanese Mythology was Susanuo, the son of Izanagi. He was the god of thunder, fertility and agriculture, very similar to Thor and Zeus from western Mythology. He was cast out of heaven, and his totem was the serpent.  He was a dragon slayer of the first rank and killed a great eight headed dragon. He was dressed in a large cloak to disguise his weapons and tricked it by getting it drunk by leaving out eight large bowls of saki.., ( a powerful Japanese liquor made from rice )

      Suddenly he threw back his cloak and fell on the monster and cut it to pieces. The poor girl in chains Susanuo rescues in the story was the youngest of eight daughters, and all her sisters were slain as human sacrifices to the great hard drinking eight- headed dragon. Susanuo took her for his wife and she became the legendary princess Kushinada. In the middle of the dragon's tail he found a wonderful magic sword which he pulled out of the bloody carcass and presented to his elder sister Ameraterasu, the goddess of the sun.

   In later stories the sword is given the name Kushinagi and has been transmitted to our own times as one of the three great emblems of Japanese Imperial power.


THE TIGER GIRL  - From the folklore of Korea

The Tiger Girl from Zong in-Sob's Folk tales from Korea. ( the Brothers Grimm of Korea ).

    In old Korea, only the unmarried young people would wear brightly colored clothing. The married people would wear drab tans or grays while the elderly would wear white. In this illustration I have carefully re-created the traditional Korean Hanbok clothing of the era. The worship of nature spirits was common amongst the ancient Asians. In the story, when this boy followed the pretty girl home he got more than he bargained for. I highly recommend these wonderful, innocent  and timeless stories for children of all ages...






Symbol of the spirit of China


       The First dragon appeared to the mythical emperor Fu-hsi, & filled the hole in the sky made by the monster Kung Kung. Its waking, sleeping and breathing determined day & night, season and weather. There are many differences & similarities between the Classical dragon & the Chinese dragon, these include the ability to fly even without wings, shape-shifting abilities,& of course the general benevolent behavior to the populace.
        The Chinese dragon is made up of nine entities. The head of camel, the eyes of a demon, the ears of a cow, the horns of a stag, the neck of a snake, it's belly a clam's, it's claws that of an eagle, while the soles of his feet are that of a tiger, and the 117 scales that cover it's body are that of a carp. The Chinese dragon has four claws as standard, but the Imperial dragon has five, this is to identify it above the lesser classes. Anyone other than the emperor using the 5 claw motif was put to death. The Chinese dragon (Lung) was a divine bringer of rain, necessary for the good of the people. Throughout Chinese history the dragon has been equated with weather. It is said that some of the worst floodings were caused when a mortal has upset a dragon. Chinese dragons of myth could make themselves as large as the universe or as small as a silkworm.

  They rise to the skies in the spring and plunge into the waters in autumn. They could also change color and disappear in a flash.  The dragon was also a symbol of the emperor whose wisdom and divine power assured the well-being of his subjects. Many legends draw connections between the dragon and the emperor. Some emperors claimed to have descended from the dragon.  According to legend the Dragon had nine sons, and each had a strong personality. There is no general agreement as to what the Dragon's sons are called. However, to most people, they are: 1.Haoxian A reckless and adventurous dragon whose image can be found decorating the eaves of palaces. 2.Yazi Valiant and bellicose; his image is seen on sword-hilts and knife hilts. 3.Chiwen Chiwen likes to gaze into the distance and his appearance is often carved on pinnacles. 4.Baxia Baxia is a good swimmer and his image decorates many bridge piers and archways. 5.Pulao Pulao is fond of roaring and his figure is carved on bells. 6.Bixi Bixi is an excellent pack-animal whose image appears on panniers. 7.Qiuniu Qiuniu loves music and his figure is a common decoration on the bridge of stringed musical instruments. 8.Suanmi Suanmi is fond of smoke and fire; his likeness can be seen on the legs of incense-burners. 9.Jiaotu Jiaotu is as tight-lipped as a mussel or a snail. His image is carved on doors. Nine Dragon Wall A very popular tourist site in Beijing is this Nine-Dragon Wall in BaiHai Park. After hundreds of years, the colours of the ceramic tiles are just as brilliant. The wall was built in 1756. It is 21m long, about 15m high and i.2m thick. It is faced with 424 7-colour ceramic tiles. At the centre of the wall, there is a giant dragon, flanged by four dragons on each side. In addition to these nine large dragons, the wall is covered from edge to edge with many smaller dragons. In all, there are 635 dragons. The Ancient Chinese Dragon occupies a very important position in The mythology of China. It shows up in arts, literature, poetry, architecture, songs, and many aspects of the Chinese conscience. The origin of Chinese dragons is unknown, but certainly pre-dates any written history.


"Krishna and Kaliya the Demon Serpent" MMXI

In this story Krishna, the ultimate manifestation of the Hindu God-head is exorcising a ferocious malevolent entity in serpent form who had terrorized the villagers, poisoned the waters, and killed all the nearby wildlife - even birds flying by overhead.

Mythology? Of course that depends on your point of view~  more than a billion people do not think this is mythology.


Enter a world of Beauty and Imagination...


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

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

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Angel Art King Arthur Norse Mythology Greek Mythology Legends of History Fantasy Art Celtic Mythology Great Religions  Mythic Women Fairy Paintings Asian Mythology Russian Mythology
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Mermaid Art  History Part Two

Classic Fairy Tales

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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Spartan Warriors

 Lost Atlantis   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 ELVES Digital Techniques 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

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Who is Artist and Photographer Howard David Johnson?

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

      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. 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 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.   


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

   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.


Original Oil Paintings, Colored pencils, Pastels, Mixed media, and Digital art can be commissioned for select projects -

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   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. Hence the name: The Brandywine School of ILLUSTRATIVE ART...

Click on "Helen of Troy" for more...

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


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Thank You For Visiting the Asian Myths & Legends Art page of Howard David Johnson...

Your business, letters & links are always welcome. 



Look for more Asian myths and legends art - More Japanese Mythology - Korean Mythology - & Chinese Mythology  - Coming soon...