The Fairy Paintings Educational Art Gallery... Featuring Realistic Fairy Paintings and Pictures of Celtic, Shakespearean, and Victorian Fairies - Fairy Art created in a style inspired by Classic Illustrators by Contemporary American Artist and Photographer Howard David Johnson, whose illustrations of Folklore and Mythology have been published all over the world by distinguished learning institutions and publishers including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge... Seen all the great old Fairy pictures in famous books and on calendars and cards and STILL can't get enough? This exhibit is for you!  








Welcome lovers of fairy paintings and faerie art - this gallery is suitable for all ages... Scroll down...

Fairy Paintings: The Golden Age of Fairy Painting began in the wake of publications such as the fairy tales edited by the Brothers Grimm, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders by Sir Walter Scott and revivals of the plays of William Shakespeare. 

briar rose Aurora sleeping beauty faries ferrets

Fairy Encounters "Briar Rose” [Oil on 14x11 Panel]  A scene from Sleeping Beauty from "The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm" aka "Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen" {1812)

The illustrations of Grimm's Fairy tales and Keightley's Fairy Mythology set the world's imagination on fire with Cruikshank's ants-eye views of frenzied fairy revelry. These fairy tales and illustrations helped to create a mythical, magical never-never land from our folklore. 

Artists initially took their cue from Shakespeare but soon began devising their own  scenarios. Of all Shakespeare's works A Midsummer Night's Dream has had the most compelling hold on the imagination of painters. 

William Blake made a series of watercolors in the early 1790's. By the mid 1800's a tradition developed among British and Scottish Painters that continues today all over the world in every known form of art media...

This exhibition of 21st Century Victorian-style fairy paintings embraces this tradition...

This Celtic, Shakespearean, and Victorian Fairy Paintings art gallery welcomes you to this celebration of all things Faerie created in a variety of mixed media. 

Fairy Painting oil on canvas Midsummer night's dream Shakespeare

Fairy Guardians [Oil on 20x16 Canvas.] Out of this wood do not desire to go: Thou shalt remain here, whe’r thou wilt or no.” From “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 

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Fairies: also Faerie or Faery, the common term for a legendary race of clever super- natural beings who meddle in human affairs. Commonly associated with the Celts, Fairies are not the product of one culture or time; they have a pedigree. Ancient Greek Heroes had fairy lemans, called nymphs, and the faraway Asians, Eskimos and American Indians had similar fairy legends as well. The mythic Gandharvas of Sanskrit poetry were also fairies. In "Fairy Land"  this love of folklore lives on today.  Notice how the fairies turn into butterflies and birds when they go out into the direct sunlight...


      Flower Fairy pinup fine art       Fairy Land Painting Faries art Faerie encounter     Fae Lament painting pouting fairy in gaurden  

 "The Flower Fairy" "Fairy Land,"and "Fae Lament" [MMII-MMXIV all in mixed media]


  The blazing brightnesse of her beauties beame, And glorious light of her sunshyny face To tell, were as to striue against the streame. My ragged rimes are all too rude and bace, Her heauenly lineaments for to enchace. Ne wonder; for her owne deare loued knight, All were she dayly with himselfe in place, Did wonder much at her celestiall sight: Oft had he seene her faire, but neuer so faire dight.So she beheld those maydens meriment With chearefull vew; who when to her they came, Themselues to ground with gratious humblesse bent, And her ador'd by honorable name, Lifting to heauen her euerlasting fame: Did seeme such, as she was, a goodly maiden Queene. ~ "Ye Faerie Queene" by Edmund Spenser [1596]


Faerie queene fairy painting unicorn       Morgan Le Fay enchantress of the fairy folk

"Ye Faerie Queene", "Oona - last High Queen of the Daoine Sidhe" and "Morgan Le Fay" or Morgan of the Fairies



Echoes of pre-historic myth bring forth visions of heroes of romance and fairy kings, monarchs of great splendor, riches and generosity who enjoyed the admiration of all. We are also told that all fairy haunted places, wherever they may be- belong to them. ( Brun de la Montage, Biblitheque Nationale )



The Brothers Fae; "King Edern of the House of Llŷr", "Gwyn ap Nudd, the King of Elfland", and " Fionnbharr, High King of the Daoine Sidhe " 


The nearest analogy to the shape of fairy belief in Scotland and Ireland - the Pixies of southern England is that of the popular oral traditions of the early Arabs. Since ancient times, the Irish have referred to fairies as the Shee, ( or Sidhee in Gaelic. ) Other names for fairy and fairy like creatures include the fay, sprite, elf, brownie, pixie, pixy, Robin Goodfellow, dwarf, gnome, troll, kobold, peri, hobgoblin, leprechaun, and also included are the nymph, dryad, oceanid, hamadryad, naiad, neried, oread, undine, faun, satyr & mermaid.


Fairy knight faerie male steed hare               

"The Faerie Knight, grandson of King Arthur" , The Wand-Elf Knight" center and "The King of the Forest "


"Fairy Paintings": During the Romantic era renewed interest was aroused in fairy tales, folk stories and legends all over Europe.  The best books on Celtic Fairy lore are still "The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies" by the Rev. Mr. Kirk and Keightley's "Fairy Mythology", but they are difficult to obtain. Fortunately "Fairies" by Contemporary Fairy painting masters Brian Froud and Alan Lee is back in print and an absolutely delightful edition for any collector or enthusiast. The belief in a species of Lady Fairies, deathly to their human lovers was as common in Samoa as on the banks of Loch Awe. Many fairy tales popular today like "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow white" had their origins in the folk tales of prehistoric times. The Fairy women who come to the births of children and foretell their fortunes with their spindles legends were found in ancient Egypt.  A female spirit who wailed to foretell death was called a Banshee. The Greek Sirens of Homer are a form of these Fairies, as the Nereids, Oreads, and Naiads are fairies of wells, mountains, and the sea.  




"In reality there were only bloody faery tales. The origins of every faery tale are steeped in blood and fear..."

~ Franz Kafka

Prosperos Fairies the tempoest fairy art fairy painting wizard fairies

"Prospero's Fairies" "The Gobliny Wood"    " Bad Fairies"

Hobgoblins or changelings were noted for shape-shifting and kidnapping children, In ancient fairy folklore from the British Isles, the prefix hob- in a creature's name often meant that it was smaller and friendlier than other similar characters. Thus a goblin might be larger and more vicious than a hobgoblin. Renaissance alchemists explained that fairy creatures are formed from the subtlest ingredients from the four elements that constitute the universe. For that reason, fairies are also known as "elementals". A fairy circle unleashed great magical powers.  The evolution of the fairy tale and fairy painting continue to this day. 


There are many gateways to the magical land of Faerie, each with it's advantages and perils. Dreamers are the boldest explorers of the fairy kingdom, needing no transportation or maps. Contact with wild nature, unspoiled by man is another legendary pathway to the realms of faery. It is always a path wrought with uncertainty as even the most enchanting and beautiful fairy could suddenly transform into a hideous creature or dangerous old witch due to the slightest breach of the secret  fairy code of etiquette or the elven code of honor.



fairy circle dancing faries gnome



celtic faries sidhe nature spirit mother goddess



 Faerie fary painting fantasy art


"The Fairy Circle"  "The Protector of the Forest" " Fairies"


"The Fairy Circle" MMIV features Carmen Fron as it's model and is rendered in Prismacolor Colored Pencils - A 'Colored Pencil Painting' if you will, Because this kind of picture is really not at all what people think of when they hear the word 'drawing'. 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 solvents and applied with an artist's brush getting very oil painting- like results.   For more on the artist and other media employed, such as Acrylic and oil painting, pastels, photography and digital media, or essays on art history, style and technique, scroll past the main exhibit of fairy paintings to the bonus section...



poor cinderela fairy godmother magic   Fairy godmother cinderela ball magic gown   queen cinderella fairy tale magic

"Poor Cinderella" MMX (above left) "The Fairy Godmother" MMXIV and  "Queen Cinderella"  MMVII  Mixed Media

Shakespeare's Fairies

   Shakespeare's Faeries are Celtic Faeries, in "Romeo and Juliet" he muses of "Queen Mab, the bringer of dreams" - Celtic goddess and the original Fairy Queen. He influenced generations of writers to look from the overused Greek and Roman themes to their own Celtic Heritage. Shakespeare's "The Tempest" provided the inspiration for the next piece; The shipwrecked wizard Prospero's  daughter Miranda at the tender age of fifteen surrounded by fairies, sprites, spirits and even specters of death all at her father's command. 


mab bringer dreams queen fairies    quarrel between titania oberon shakespeare   fantasy art witches shades legends myth fantastic

"Mab, the Bringer of Dreams","The quarrel between Titania and Oberon", and "The Tempest" 


  Of all Shakespeare's plays A Midsummer Night's Dream has had the most compelling hold on the imagination of painters. William Blake made a series of watercolor fairy paintings in the early 1790's. By the mid 1800's a tradition developed among British and Scottish Painters that continues today all over the world in every known media... This 21st century interpretation of Fairy King Oberon by Johnson is very Elven and martial in conception.  Shakespeare's fairies are some of my favorites for creating fairy paintings.  Above left is the dream from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Above right we see the quarrel between Queen Titania and The Terrifying King Oberon. Did you know the original King Arthur was a Fairy King?


    mid summer nights dream shakespeare    toadstool fairy mushroom mouse sugar glider    faerie fairy twilight illustration ballarina


 "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "The Toadstool Faerie", and "Faerie Twilight" 




 Faerie tales fairy gown dancing fine art    norse goddess art protector of the woods   celtic queen madbh mave medb witch  

"Faerie Tales", "The Protector of the Forest" and "Celtic Queen Madbh" {Mave}  (mixed media)


The Original Faerie Queen? The Heroes of Ulster, from Celtic Mythology, have no part in fairyland, but their enemy, Medb or Medbh, ( Pronounced 'Mave' ) above is credited with Queenly rule among the Sidhe ( Celtic Fairies ) & is held by some (not all) to be an evolution of the original Celtic Fairy "Queen Mab". I just had to do both! The braided Celtic knot work on her garments was believed to have magical powers to ward off evil spirits. The cauldron & standing stones are also key elements of Celtic folklore, the fountainhead of all fairy tales.

Victorian Fairies


pixi fairy painting art    pixi fairy painting art deco    pixi fairy painting art deco

These detailed close-ups from Celtic Fairy Queen Mab (above) reveal the intricate detail in these Digital Fairy Paintings...

  "The Little People" or Leprechauns were the a race of elves ( fairies ) from the folklore of the Irish. ( or Luchrupan ). They were master craftsmen and hoarded hidden treasure. As with fairies, contact with them could be a blessing or a curse. Over the course of a thousand years, the gods of the Ancient Celts (AKA the elves and fairies) evolved into what we now call the little people. Country People still commonly believed in them until the coming of the television in the 1950's... By the mid 20th Century belief in fairies was widely thought to have faded into history.


By Popular Demand! So many have written asking how to tell the various art media apart~ But friends! That's JUST my point! Left Digital Montage, Center: Prismacolor Painting, Right Oil on canvas

all hallows eve digital montage    all hallows eve colored pencils prismacolor fairy    all hallows eve oil painting canvas fairy

Mixed Media including digital         Prismacolor colored pencils             Oil Painting on Canvas      


Fairies were not always small... the Ancient Celts believed them to be human size and without wings! (The Tuatha de DaNaan) Like Aesop's Fables before him in ancient times and the Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney after him, William Shakespeare re- invented the folklore of the fairies in the 16th century for a new era in his immortal theatrical masterpieces, "the Tempest" and "A Midsummer Nights Dream".


    Faerie fary painting fantasy art    Fairies, Goblins and Dwarfs  faries Painting art    Faerie fary painting fantasy art

 Hurt Feelings" ,"Fairies goblins and Dwarfs" MMV  and "The Red Fairy" (mixed media) 


 "The Little People" 


    the midnight forest fairy monsters spell craft     Pixie Dust Faerie Fariy flower macro focus

"Tiny Dancer", "Faerie Courtship" and  "Pixie Dust" 


       One of the chief attractions of  fairy paintings for the Mid-Victorians was that it made possible highly realistic and revealing pictures of the female form that would have otherwise been inadmissible... Thus, I am Continuing in a very real part of the tradition of Victorian Fairy Paintings with innocent, natural, and mild portrayals of the uncovered human form... these fairy pictures are not displayed here. The Classical or Greco-Roman school of art is distinguished by the notion that the human form is the ultimate arena for artistic expression.


More Victorian Fairies


fairies ary art titania painting     fairy grove photo montage art


 For more than six thousand years, the Faerie, the Toad, and the Mushroom have been associated with Shamanism and the ancient Pagan religions of Europe... in spite of persecution and the ridicule of modern science these practices continue to this day.  In the 21st century revivals of nature spirit worship are appearing all over the world and fairy folklore is as well loved as ever... 



good ladies nature fairy wood

"The Good Ladies of Nature"

   The Good Ladies of Nature: In the springtime the good fairies awaken from their long sleep during the Dark Season to witness the regeneration of nature. Fairies come in all sizes, colors and breeds... with incredible magic powers! Folklore tells us there are many kinds of diverse fairies, some beautiful and kind, some laughing elves, mischievous pixies and some are horrible monsters- cruel and abhorrent, ghoulish bands of accursed forest creatures.


  painting pixis protecting a birds nest     Faerie fary painting fantasy art     Fairy grove lights victorion  gown    

"Forest Pixies", Midnight Fairy" and " The Fairy Grove - Revisited" 


     "I love illustrating fairy tales like Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. The Brothers Grimm, Jakob (1785-1863) & Wilhelm (1786-1859) actually did not originate those stories but re-invented them for a new era by collecting and editing them into a book called "The German Book of Popular Stories", much like Aesop collected the fables of the Greeks. In the 20th century Walt Disney Re- invented Fairy Tales like Cinderella and others in his wonderful animated films. 


"In reality there were only bloody faery tales. The origins of every faery tale are steeped in blood and fear."

~Franz Kafka

Thank you for visiting the Fairy Paintings Art Gallery of Howard David Johnson...

This page is lovingly dedicated to the Immortal British and Scottish artists whose Fairy Paintings who inspired me...

Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( 1840- 1893) - "Swan Lake"


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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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

Who is American Artist 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 illustrator portrait

A portrait of the artist in his painting studio.

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.


goodly faerie maiden protector 3d art

A Goodly Fairy Maiden

  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.  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.and group rates are available.



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

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My Friends from around the world thus far :


Ireland,   Scotland,   Wales,    Germany,   Canada,   England,   France,   Monaco,   Andorra,   Italy,   The Vatican City State,  Greece,  Macedonia,  Cyprus,  Turkey,  Belgium,  Denmark,  The Faroe Islands,   Greenland,  Yugoslavia, Macedonia,  Croatia,  The Czech Republic,  Bosnia,  Herzegovina,  Slovakia,  Slovenia,  Luxembourg,  Latvia,  Estonia, Hungary,  Bulgaria,  Lithuania,  Poland,  Austria,  Romania,  Spain,  The Russian Federation,   Ukraine,   Kazakhstan, Moldova,  Malta,  Iceland,  Finland,  Norway,  Netherlands,  Switzerland,  Liechtenstein,  Sweden,  Portugal,  Albania, Armenia, Georgia,  Azerbaijan,  Belarus,  Kazakhstan,  Gibraltar,  Israel,  Palestinian Territories,   Egypt,   Libya,  Mali, Algeria,  Niger,  Saudi Arabia,  Oman,  The United Arab Emirates,  Kuwait,  Bahrain,  Qatar,  Yemen,  Iraq,  Iran,  Jordan, Syria,   Lebanon,   Morocco,   Ethiopia,   Eritrea,   Liberia,   The Republic of Congo,   Rwanda,   Kenya,  Angola,  Ghana, The Ivory Coast,   Zambia,   Zimbabwe,   Sudan,  Nigeria,  Namibia,  Uganda,   Kenya,  Eritrea,  Tanzania,  Botswana, Malawi,  Senegal,  Djibouti,  Cameroon,  Chad,  Gambia,  Mozambique,  Swaziland,  Lesotho,  South Africa,  Viet Nam, Japan,  South Korea,  China,  Hong Kong,  Macau,  Mongolia,  Mauritius,  Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia,  Laos,   Myanmar,  Macau,  Malaysia,  Taiwan,  Nuie,  New Zealand,  Fiji,  Cook Islands,  New Caledonia,  Vanuatu,  American Samoa,  Australia,  Micronesia,  Polynesia,  Papua New Guinea,  The Heard and McDonald Islands,  The Philippines, Guam, Palau,  Cocos Island,  The Kingdom of Tonga,  Malaysia,   Brunei Darussalem,  India,   Pakistan,   Afghanistan, Bhutan,  Bangladesh,  Sri Lanka,  Chagos Islands,  The Republic of Maldives,  Turkmenistan,  Kyrgyzstan,  Uzbekistan, Nepal,  Indonesia,  Chile,  Argentina,  Uruguay,  Paraguay,  Brazil,  Peru,   Aruba,  Venezuela,  Bolivia, Suriname,  Guyana,  Aruba,  The Dominican Republic,  Guatemala,  Costa Rica,  Colombia,  Trinidad and Tobago,   Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados,  The Virgin Islands,  The Netherlands Antilles,  Panama,  Saint Vincent & Grenadines, Grenada, Ecuador,  Belize,   Nicaragua,   El Salvador,   Bermuda,  Cuba,  Jamaica,  Dominica,  Haiti,  Puerto Rico,  Cayman Islands,   Anguilla,    The Bahamas,   Honduras,   Mexico, 

and my home, The Great Free State of Idaho...

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


With a background in traditional media including oils, pastels and colored pencils, Howard David Johnson embraces leading edge digital media in the creation of his depictions of fairy tales, 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 * and last but not least: Digital Artistry & Mixed Media * 

(Publishing Licenses of existing works and commissions for new ones are available. All these fairy paintings & text are legally copyrighted & registered with the U.S. Library of Congress Office of Copyright by the author, Howard David Johnson All rights reserved worldwide. Permission for commercial uses is available. Contact the artist for friendly service or visit

Publishing Licenses & Original oil paintings are for sale, e-mail for courteous Service...

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Fairy Painting Publishers * Dealers * Distributors * Ask about our Wholesale Pricing!

  Gorgeous Poster Size Reprints of Johnson's Fairy Paintings are Now Available!


Essays and Articles Section:

Philosophy, Art, & Art Philosophy

Personal Opinion Essays on Realism yesterday and today by the artist.

    David Johnson is an outspoken proponent of mechanical aids to visual art. Unlike the opponents of mechanical aids, his mission is not to prove his talent but to help preserve our vanishing Western cultural heritage. In addition to his mastery of the traditional media, now combines drawing, painting, photography, and digital media with more than thirty years of experience in these fields to create his Realistic Art Numerica 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. Introducing Art Numerica- an exciting merger of traditional visual art and cutting edge technology... a new art form for the twenty- first century... Art Numerica is not limited to realistic art but also offers limitless horizons for everything from cartoons to abstractions.

It is the most dramatic development in the visual arts since the Renaissance. 



What is YOUR definition of Art?


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

~Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

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

~ Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language

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Pastel, Acrylics, and Colored Pencils combined

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

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

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

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

~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 elaborate prank played on the Snobbish American Art critics about a generation ago by research scientists in the field of primatology. Imagine how upset they were when he created one of his "ingenious masterpieces" right before their eyes.

( My Source for this is the Time Life Science Library volume entitled "The Primates". )

      Art education has been almost completely removed from American Schools as a result of generations of this kind of  fabulous nonsense contributing to America's cultural illiteracy crisis. Now, the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and other notables are being removed from school libraries.  After generations of this, most American college graduates today cannot name even one living visual artist, abstract or realistic.

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

What is your definition of Art?



Note: Abstract Paintings by Congo the Chimpanzee outsold Warhol and Renoir by over 25,000 dollars in June 2005 at a London art auction. Born in 1954, Congo created more than 400 drawings and paintings between the ages of two and four. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis. There is no precedent for this kind of sale.


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.

Fairy Queen Medb... detail.jpg (59402 bytes)  fairy queen medbh medb mave sidihe

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 paintings. 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 painting forever. Suddenly, realistic painting 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 paintings and statues 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 Piccaso 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 paintings. 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 painting 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




"Those who are enamored 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 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 Paintings, including illustration, photography, experimentalism, & fine art.
The various galleries linked to by the icons above show many examples of his Fantastical Realistic Art, & are grouped by theme rather than media. There are also several special pages with discussion of media & Art galleries devoted to History, Classical Mythology, Women of Mythology, & Celtic & Asian Myth & Legend.

     Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters. To create his fairy paintings, he usually starts with a thematic concept  followed by a rough realistic pencil sketch, then followed by his original 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 collages. 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 new complex original Computer Photo Montages. Many of these are on display on this web and slated for future completion in a variety of traditional art media. As this happens, the finished painting is substituted in the exhibit. For decades David has sought out the most beautiful models and brought them in for sessions in his analog photography studio. Using a strategy employed by J. W. Waterhouse, (the old master David 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 Fairy Paintings is colored pencil because of the high speed and low expense, and people began expressing difficulty in telling his 'Prismacolor paintings' 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. As a commercial illustrator David has not only used the computer to create art but has been involved in the development of computer imaging software for Adobe Photoshop. 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 Numérique ) 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.

 Only David's finest fairy paintings are ever rendered in oils

     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. In addition to his mastery of traditional media, Howard David Johnson now combines drawing, painting, photography, and digital media with more than thirty years of experience in these fields to create his 21st century fairy 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... Digital Art media is not limited to realistic or fairy art but also offers limitless horizons for everything from cartoons to abstractions. It is the most dramatic development in the visual arts since the Renaissance. Working in a wide variety of media to create his fairy 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. Other media, like colored pencil or digital are less expensive. On existing works licenses start at only $100.


2006 Artist's Statement:

"Did you know that many of the breathtaking works Pre-Raphaelites were doing in oils in the 1800’s were declared not to be Art? In London the Royal Academy had a very narrow view as to what qualified. No wonder Rossetti led a revolt against them. How about Styles? Impressionism is a great example; It was not enough that these institutions rejected the work, but they felt the need to destroy the person’s reputation and livelihood. Of course collectors pay millions for these Impressionistic paintings now, and Curators, Historians and Professional Art Critics all hail them as sensitive works of fine art. When Monet submitted his work to the Salon in Paris, they said" A monkey has gotten a hold of a set of paints" and would paint huge "R"s for "rejected on the back canvas. Rejecting him was not enough for them. They wanted to be sure he never sold another picture. They wanted to hurt him and his family for sick sadistic pleasure. He got really good at re-stretching his canvas with a double layer to cover up their hateful defacement of his original art. They saw themselves as powerful as the deadly committee for public safety in the French Revolution as far as the Art World went and delighted in "sending artists to the guillotine", so to speak. These hateful little petty tyrants were unable to keep his name out of the history books or to keep his paintings for selling for millions of dollars. This is the treatment someone who creates a new style gets, but developments in applied technology like manufactured tube paints as opposed to hand mixed paints were violently rejected by these types as well and they forcefully proclaimed anyone who used paints from a tube was not a "real artist". Well, tube paints are pretty well accepted now. So will photography and digital media in time. You probably  know how bad Photographers were treated, but now it is a respected Art Form. I Remember the hateful things they said about Pastels and Mary Cassat, and now Pastel Paintings are considered Fine Art and Mary Cassat’s works are regarded as masterpieces. Now that snobs have Digital Artists to look down on, Colored Pencils are starting to get some respect. Our day will come."

~ Howard David Johnson


All  these fairy paintings & text are legally copyrighted & were registered with the U.S. Library of Congress Office of Copyright in 2014 by the author, Howard David Johnson All rights reserved worldwide. Permission for many legal non-commercial uses is freely available by simply contacting the author or visiting


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Essay Six:

Copyright Law and the Visual Arts in the Computer Age

An introduction to the Millennial Copyright Act for Artists

A brief, easy to understand essay in layman's terms

on 21st century legal boundaries, guidelines, and western art traditions by the artist



  "All art is ultimately some form of imitation, even if you are an expressionist painter imitating an abstract vision in your own mind. These new visual art creations of mine take their inspiration in part from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as The Lord of the Rings comes from The Ring of the Nibelung and European folklore and West Side Story came from Romeo and Juliet, which was in turn inspired by Antony and Cleopatra. Much as Rubens copied Titian, I copy Waterhouse and so on. Over the last 300 years, ideas about female beauty have drastically changed and this has caused many of the most wonderful paintings of the old masters to seem 'ugly' to youthful modern audiences. For example, in the days of Peter Paul Rubens, being forty to sixty pounds over-weight was considered not only attractive, but was a status symbol. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and tastes have clearly changed. I feel many classic themes need to be redone to preserve interest and appeal for future generations. This has happened many times before as artists like Aesop, The Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney have appropriated, modified, and re-defined elements of our culture to preserve it for future generations. The legality of such use today depends on whether or not the source is protected by copyright law. You can draw or paint Shakespeare's fairies for example and publish them without permission but not more modern intellectual properties like characters from Star Wars or Mickey Mouse who holds the oldest copyright dating from 1928.

Our shared cultural heritage, great works of art, literature, music and drama, cinema, folk tales and fairy tales are all drawn upon again and again by the creators of new works. These works in the public domain are both a catalyst and a wellspring for creativity and innovation. Even though all my Realistic Paintings are legally new works and protected under copyright law their inspiration comes in part from works in the public domain.

The public domain is a space where intellectual property protection ( copyright ) does not apply. When copyrights and patents expire, innovations and creative works fall into the public domain. They may then be used by anyone without permission and without the payment of a licensing fee. My sources have been transformed so much in the creation of these new works of art that they would not violate an existing copyright even if they were so protected. Publicly owned national parks are also considered by many to be public domain lands. Because of the recent extensions of the terms of both copyrights and patents, and the privatization of lands and other resources owned by the Federal Government, little is now entering the public domain. Look for new litigation and another time extension when Disney Corporation's Mickey Mouse copyright is due to expire in 2023. Where would Walt Disney be without the Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, or Victor Hugo? Where would Aaron Copeland have been without American folk music? Thomas Nast's Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Picasso without African art?

 These are artists who made names for themselves and even fortunes through Public Domain appropriation, one and all.

   Some people are actually outraged that there are some intellectual properties that corporations do not own. They feel appropriation is only appropriate if a corporation does it. Corporations created by public domain appropriation, now are the most powerful force on Earth trying to put a stop to new things entering the public domain forever through lawsuits. The public domain is a space where intellectual property protection ( copyright ) does not apply. It was set up by our founding fathers, who felt creativity needed to be rewarded on a personal level for a time, and when copyrights and patents expired, innovations and creative works moved into the public domain.

      Since the public domain is a treasure trove of information and resources to be used by future generations, many advocates are concerned that its stagnation will make it more and more difficult for future generations to find creative inspiration. This is least likely to hurt the motion picture companies who produce new works "in house" granting themselves permission, but the music industry which brings in artists and new songs from the outside is being hit very hard already. If a new song release resembles an old one, now there is litigation. Visual Art Tradition and etiquette suggest the most influential pieced borrowed from the public domain should be mentioned at exhibits; these original new pieces Shown in my exhibits take their inspiration in part from the paintings of Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, Moreau, Bouguereau, Leighton, Ingres, Moore, Parrish, Rackham and others. They showcase some of my favorite models. As a student of fine art, copying is a great way to learn and create fine art, but as a professional illustrator things are very different. Works done by artists out of personal motivation belong to the artist who created them, and they can sell licenses for divers forms of publication. The law is clear and simple regarding illustrations done for gainful employment. They are called "work-for-hire" under the law, and the rights to such works envisioned by the customer and specifically commissioned and paid for belong exclusively to the customer and the artist must specifically ask permission to ever legally use their own work themselves. Most people in this industry will be glad to give that limited permission if asked.

My art is divided into two distinct groups; personal work partially copying the old masters and professional illustration applying these lessons to create totally original works. I start more often with a specific written request. This is the exact OPPOSITE approach to creating a picture from copying something that's there.

Research comes first. In the case of my illustration of the Spartan Warriors, there were no accurate sources in the public domain to copy correct Greek armor and weapons in combat poses from.  Mostly I found images of effeminate men, wearing nothing but a robe over the shoulder and the wrong helmets. Finding history books at the library with the accurate helmets, shield designs, weapons, and armor was essential to get an accurate depiction of a Greek Hoplite.  All the library had were stiff museum poses of anything, but I hit the research jackpot with some very simplistic flat line drawings of great authentic Greek shield designs.

All the elements must be found, gathered and assembled to create the dramatic action scene the client wanted. Next comes the layout. This is where the mathematics and geometric design come into the creative process. My wife, Virginia took a picture of me nearly twenty years ago on a carpentry project with the heroic Jack Kirby like pose I was looking for mixed with the texture and feel of a Frank Frazetta or Norman Rockwell painting. Naturally, in these cases I go to great lengths to make sure that my work looks nothing whatsoever like it's various inspirations and sources except in flavor and spirit. Of course, the characteristic old master's painting feel to the background most of my illustrations have was requested, and the picture was to have the flavor of a Howard Pyle painting.

      With regards to use of mechanical aids to create art: Did you know the old masters traced? To create his immortal "Mona Lisa" Leonardo Da Vinci used "Camera Obscura" which is  two mirrors set at 45 degree angles around the corner with parchment over it to trace onto. Michaelangelo used a similar technique for the Sistine Chapel. Think that makes it too quick and easy? You'll find once you've finally got that outline done right you're a long, long, way from being finished in any medium... if these men who set the standard for realistic excellence used them, why shouldn't those who come after them be permitted? Simple, because this is one of the most carefully guarded "secrets of the old masters" and most people don't know very much about art history... For more on Camera Obscura and the history of photography and the use of mechanical aids to create art read essay seven.

When asked why I usually work from photos I like to re-tell Norman Rockwell's story about having to paint a chicken: He set it up on a stump in a barn and goes to painting. The chicken moves it's head. He moves it back. The chicken jumps down. He puts it back. He goes to paint. now the chicken decides to make a break for it... he chases it down clucking and screaming and puts it back. Now it knows he's going to have it for dinner and it goes completely berserk. The next day, he came in and set the chicken back, snapped it's picture,

and the photo held nice and still."

     I have built up an enormous library of original 35 mm source photos for use in my realistic art. For decades I have been seeking out the most beautiful models and sometimes even their boyfriends and relatives, bringing them in for sessions into my photography studio. The law with regards to copy rights on photographs is simple - if you own the negative you own the rights. This new instant copyright without filing law is very nice for photographers and artists working with their own photos, but not so good for free-hand drawings from the imagination and other non-photographic based forms of drawing and painting like cartoons.

 This is the main reason I use my own photographs.

   Using a strategy employed by J. W. Waterhouse, my wistful and graceful fairy models cannot be underestimated in their contribution to the stunning beauty and the potential for lasting appeal of my work. I am always make sure to both overpay them for their time and also the rights. I always get a written contract with the exception of my dearest friends and closest family who are always making cameo appearances. The models get amenities and services including portraits, portfolio photo sessions, photographic reprints and enlargements, leather presentation cases, webmaster services, original art, and reprints of their appearances in my drawings and paintings as well as above scale cash payments at the time of the shoot.

   With regards to using copyrighted material as a reference-  When you have to paint a wombat you can't fake it- you need a picture! The law understands this and automatically grants provision - within reasonable limits; when using copyrighted sources the source image must be so transformed in overall appearance in the translation as not to be what the law calls "confusingly similar"...

   If it's newer than 1928 you can bet it's probably copyrighted - they had to renew exactly 26 years later in those days or it would pass into the public domain, so it might not be copyrighted if it wasn't a big moneymaker. Always be sure to check in these cases. If it's newer than 1999 under the millennial copyright act the law says it is automatically copyrighted without even filing. However, this new law is very tricky in it's wording because you must have already have filed with the copyright office in advance if you ever need to take legal action. They say it is copyrighted, but you cannot sue if it is not registered with the United States Library of Congress Office of Copyright. Because of this "instant copyright without filing" clause, there is a serious danger of artists being made legally helpless and left open to being cheated out of their work.

From an artist's standpoint, this is a huge improvement over the original 14 year copyright term. When properly interpreted and acted upon, by filing works with the United States Library of Congress Office of Copyright, these laws are GREAT for contemporary artists and their estates, who will hold rights for seventy years after the artist's death."

~ Howard David Johnson  M M I V



The Constitutional Provision Respecting Copyright

The Congress shall have power... To promote the progress of Science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

United States Constitution Article I Section 8

( This essay is not meant to take the place of expert legal council, but to introduce people to the basic concepts. )

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Art tradition and etiquette suggest the artists who have been most influential should be mentioned at exhibits; these original new pieces shown in this exhibit take their inspiration in part from the paintings of Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, Church, Godward, Moreau, Bouguereau, Leighton, Ingres, Moore, Parrish, Rackham and others. Most of my sources are changed so much they are impossible to detect, but sometimes I make it obvious to pay homage.  Where would Walt Disney be without the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Victor Hugo and so many others? Where would Aaron Copeland have been without American folk music? Thomas Nast's Santa Claus without traditional images of Father Christmas? Picasso without African art?   These are artists who made names and fortunes through Public Domain appropriation, one and all. Beethoven did "variations on a theme" with the works of Mozart for the same reasons I have done mine with Waterhouse and others- to learn and give homage to the artists who most inspired me. 

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This page is lovingly dedicated to the Immortal British and Scottish artists whose Fairy Paintings who inspired me...

Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( 1840- 1893) - "Swan Lake"