Spartan Warriors & Greek Hoplites; Homer's The Iliad & The Trojan Horse of History: Historical Illustrations and a brief introduction to the legendary warriors of Ancient Greece. Information and illustrations featuring Ancient Spartan Warriors; The battle of Marathon, Thermopylae & the 300 Spartans: Greek Hoplite Warriors; The Trojan Wars, Helen of Troy, Achilles, Alexander the Great, and History versus Mythology... A fun and informative multi-media presentation in word paintings, music, and visual art... Featuring exciting new historical illustrations by Contemporary American Artist Howard David Johnson.

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Presents: A Gallery of History Paintings Created for The Twenty-first Century

A Gallery of New Paintings, Drawings and Pictures in traditional oils, Contemporary acrylics and cutting edge 2D & 3D digital mixed media in the style of the classic illustrators.

Our 3rd Decade on the Web ~ 1996 ~ Today

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This gallery is dedicated to our modern day Spartans - the Defenders of Freedom serving in our armed forces



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"Return with your shield or on it" (above left) Was every Spartan woman's wartime farewell to her lover or even her son... Not even a Spartan MOTHER could forgive cowardice, the heavy shield made flight impossible...The REAL Spartan warriors of history wore a kind of ancient Kevlar body armor a shirt with layers of bronze and leather covered by linen. (above right) 









  In the early days of history the Greeks differed vastly from the other two great civilized systems on the Nile and the two rivers of Mesopotamia. Persian King Darius was displeased with Greek settlements in Asia and attacked Greece directly in 490 B.C. A great naval force fashioned to carry horses and entire armies was long and carefully prepared to subdue all of Greece, beginning with Athens. 

  The Athenians hoped to delay battle until elite reinforcements from Sparta should join them, but the landing of the invasion force at Marathon being reinforced by Persian sympathizers nerved them to attack first. The two pronged attack was designed to lure the Athenian army away from Athens. The Greeks advanced their phalanx (a wall of shields & spears) slowly until they came within range of the Persian archers, when they broke into a run. 

  The arrows were ineffective at close range compared to the Greek spears. Soon they retreated, but the Greeks ran them down them from behind and killed them and war as we know it was born. After Pheidippides made his famous run from  Marathon to Athens he cried out the news; "Rejoice! we conquer!" and then he died from exhaustion. The Greek City-states had proven that they could fight and win even without the elite Spartans.


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So Greece, united for a while by fear, gained her first victory over Persia. According to Herodotus the Persians lost 6,400 men, the Athenians only 192. The decisive victory gave Athenians confidence in the future of their city and their civilization. Darius received the news of this and of a rebellion in Egypt and died while planning his response.  Xerxes, his son and heir quickly dealt with Egypt and then set out to re-invade Greece.

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The Defender of Freedom


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The 300 Spartans



     Legendary in the annals of history are the Spartan Warriors of Ancient Greece. Fearless defenders of liberty, they followed a strict military way of life.

In 480 B.C. three hundred Spartans under King Leonidas stood alone at the end against the enormous Persian army under the tyrannical King Xerxes who was sweeping southward into Greece. The 300 Spartans fought to the death against these impossible odds in the narrow mountain pass at Thermopylae (Gates of Fire ).

The Persians took shocking casualties. Their narrow lines of wicker shields and short javelins were no match for the highly disciplined Spartan lines with their large bronze shields and long spears who slaughtered the Sea of Persians wave after wave.

        It was only after a betrayal of a secret path and the 700 Greek allies were ordered home to warn Greece that the 300 Spartans were finally overcome.

Although the Spartans contributed little to the artistic and intellectual development of Greece, ironically, without them Democracy and Freedom would have been wiped out in their infancy...

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The Battle of Thermopylae


Earlier Spartan legends: Helen of Troy ( circa 1194 B.C. ) was often called"the face that launched a thousand ships" and "the most beautiful woman who ever lived". The Trojan War resulted when Paris, the prince of Troy carried her off during the reign of her husband the Spartan King Menelaus.

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Helen of Troy MMVI Helen and Paris MMVII

 Here Helen has just seen the sea lights of her husband's enormous amphibious  invasion fleet on the horizon. To recover Helen, the Acheans under Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus lay ferocious siege to Troy to no avail for ten years until Troy's champion Hector  was killed by Achilles, the bravest, handsomest, and swiftest of the army of Agamemnon, and he by in turn by Paris with a poisoned arrow guided by Apollo to his one vulnerable spot - the classic Achilles' heel while he rode in his chariot parading Hector's corpse...  ( Trojan War Circa 1194 B.C. ) Achilles, shown here in his chariot humiliating the defeated Trojan champion Hector - was killed seconds later by Paris with a poisoned arrow ( guided by Apollo to his one vulnerable spot ) - the classic Achilles' heel. Achilles' death was not mentioned in The Iliad, but hinted at and The Odyssey only mentions his funeral. The Aethiopsis took up the story of Achilles after The Iliad with his slaying the Amazon Penthesilea and his legendary death. Achilles was worshipped in many ancient places including Sparta. This demigod's legend was certainly based on a real man.  We can only guess what he looked like as no certain statue nor clear written descriptions remain, but artistic representations on pottery do. The oldest of these only dating back to the 7th century B.C. - six hundred years after the event.


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"Let us make an armed reconnaissance round the city and find out what the Trojans mean to do next, whether they will abandon their fortress now that their champion has fallen, or make up their minds to hold it without Hector's help." ~Homer

At last a wooden horse was contrived. Odysseus had masterminded a strategy to break the stalemate...

The Trojan Horse...





In whose hollow interior many elite Achean Warriors hid themselves... leaving Their Giant Gift outside the city and withdrawing their army and fleet to Tenedos, feigning to have raised the siege. The Trojans conveyed the wooden horse into the city. Later that night the Greeks stole out and opened the gates, and Troy was taken. The Spartan King Menelaus recovered Helen and  forgave her. She was long thought to be merely a part of mythology - partly because of lack of evidence and partly because of the colorful portrayals of the Olympian gods as real beings in  Homer's "The Iliad"- prejudiced the scientific and academic communities to disregard the testimony of our surviving ancient histories

- until Archaeologists excavated Troy.

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Also from Homer's The Iliad- "Achilles and Patroclas" MMVII mixed media

 Now, The Trojan War is one of the Legends of History as well...  Herodotus and Thucydides, like ancient pagan writers generally, accepted the Trojan War as historical, but criticized what they politely called "epic statements" in detail. Traditional genealogies, collated by Hecataeus of Miletus and others , enabled  Eratosthenes to date the fall of Troy to 1194 B.C. This is consistent with the accounts of the Roman scholar Pliny the elder and Egyptian records from Rameses' time as well.

Alexander the Great, Conqueror of the World

Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) conquered the known world. When Alexander saw the breadth of his kingdom he wept, "for there were no more new worlds to conquer". Although he built the city of Alexandria with it's legendary lighthouse, he was not a great builder or statesman like other notables of history. The real creator of this Legend of History is his father, Phillip of Macedonia. Just as a great playright does not bask in the limelight, but the actors, so it was with Phillip and his son Alexander the Great.

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Phillip conceived and planned everything, building the army and beginning the Persian expedition before his death. For a time the whole world, from the Adriatic to the Indus, was under one ruler; realizing the dreams of his father.  He and 90 of his generals and friends married Persian brides. This was called the marriage of Europe and Asia. At 31, he had been in possession of the Persian empire for six years and wore the robes and tiara of a Persian monarch. He broke with Greek tradition by shaving his face, becoming notoriously violent, vain, and egotistical in his last days. His career marks an epoch in human history and he remains a controversial figure to this day.


Howard David Johnson works in 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 *  Because of the use of photography in everything he does, even Johnson's all-oil paintings can be termed mixed media.*

Like to see more Johnson Art?

Visit these other Fun & Educational Free Non Profit Art Galleries:

Paintings of Greek Mythology

The Legends of History


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  The belief in Olympian gods and monsters was as commonplace then as our superstitions are today and some people are still prone to embellish true events with what Classical writers called "epic statements".


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 Thank You for Visiting the Spartan Warriors Art Gallery... This gallery is dedicated to our modern day defenders of freedom - serving in our armed forces



Many pieces are currently available, mostly 11x14-13x16 inch Prismacolor Paintings (like Helen of Troy) and pencil portraits (like Arriba #2) followed in number by Acrylic, Prismacolor and pastel mixed media all on #400 Strathmore Bristol Board ranging from $700.00-$1400. 00 USD and Oil Paintings on canvas ranging from $1999.00 - 10,000.00 USD.  Pieces that have never been rendered in oil can be commissioned in 16x20 inch size on canvas for 50% down and delivered in under 90 days with signed certificates of authenticity aka legal documents pledging never to render it in that size and media again to ensure premium collectability and investment potential.

David can also do a completely new picture designed in digital media (for more on this visit his digital media page) and when we approve the photo-montage, he uses it as reference to render it in oil on canvas. No surprises.  Existing Artwork is shipped very well protected and go out to you immediately via Fed Ex or USPS Express mail upon receipt of payment at our expense. All new creations cost a bit more depending on what is involved. All new creations and rendering photo montages into art on paper are a LOT of fun with e-mail attachments and digital cameras.  




Almost all of Johnson's Mixed Media creations (above left) displayed in this site are available to be rendered in oil on canvas like the 20x16 oil on canvas Faerie Guardians 2006 (above right). Each design will only be rendered in oil once at this size and can be delivered in as little as 90 days. Sadly, much of the subtlety, vibrance, lustre and impact of an original oil painting is lost when it is scanned and imported to digital media or even printed by a master printer. Nothing can compare to an original oil painting viewed in person in my opinion but the other painting media definitely look good in print and have their charms and distinct advantages as well.


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Thank you for Visiting... Your  business, letters, & links are always welcome.






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

Click on the covers to order the books from our vendor

Coming soon from Brandywine Press!

These beautifully printed 11" x 8.5" 64 page hardcover and trade paperback versions feature 48 full page interior plates in full color starting at only $24.99 USD. Less than the price of a single poster! Featuring A concise and entertaining Outline of History written and illustrated by American Artist & Photographer Howard David Johnson.


Thank you for visiting The Spartan Warriors of Ancient Greece Art Gallery...

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The Galleries of Contemporary American Historical Illustrator Howard David Johnson

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


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This Art gallery has been honored by more than 35,000,000 unique visitors

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My Friends from around the world thus far :

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We love hearing from you! Your business, letters & links are always welcome. E-mail for courteous service...


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."


A portrait of the artist in his painting studio as he is today. This September 2009 photo was taken by his youngest son Erich.

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

   David's Traditional Realistic Art was exhibited in the British Museum in London in 1996, ( 3 years before he got his first computer ) as well as numerous American ones since, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. David's realistic illustrations have made appearances in every major bookstore and game shop chain in America as well as magazines and educational texts around the world. 

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

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


If you liked this gallery of Spartan Warriors, you might enjoy "The Legends of King Arthur" Gallery too...

Thank you for visiting this multi- media educational art gallery...  for More Art Gallery Links see below...



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

Howard David Johnson is a contemporary visual artist and photographer with a background in
the natural sciences and history. He works in a wide variety of media ranging from traditional
oils,  pastels and others to cutting edge digital media. He loves mixing media. This site features
examples of his Realistic Art, including illustration, photography, experimentalism, and fine art


Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield (Danish Cover)


     The various galleries linked to by the icons above show many examples of His Realistic Art, and are grouped by theme rather than media. There are also sample illustrations from his  upcoming books on Celtic Myth and Legend and World Myth & Legend. Since boyhood he has passionately copied the old masters. To create his work, he usually starts with a thematic concept  followed by a rough realistic pencil sketch, then followed by his photography, often traveling to find suitable scenes and locations and then working in his Photography studio with live models from his sketches. He then assembles a variety of elements which are realistic and original. As a boy he dedicated his life to art in 1960. From 1965- 1999 he used xeroxes and tracings to make his preliminary photo montages. This is patterned after  the manner used by Maxfield Parrish and other 19th century notables. Beginning with a tracing, he then draws or paints from these complex original Computer Photo Montages. Many of these are on display on this web and slated for future completion in a variety of traditional realistic  art media. As this happens, the finished work is substituted in the exhibit.

    He has built up an enormous library of original source photos to use in his realistic art.  Recently he shot hundreds of aerial photos of clouds at marvelous angles and perspectives and also looking down on the mighty mountains, rivers, and deserts of the American west while flying from Texas to Oregon and back for dynamic source material for realistic flying scenes in upcoming paintings, drawings, and pictures.  For decades he has sought out the most beautiful models and brought them in for sessions in his photography studio. Using a strategy employed by J. W. Waterhouse, the old master HDJ imitates most- see Helen of Troy ( a recognizable tribute ) and The Messenger ( in the spirit of Waterhouse ) both featuring Grace- 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 favourite medium for traditional realistic art is colored pencil because of the high speed and low expense, and people began expressing difficulty in telling his colored pencil drawing from photographs in the early 1980's.  In the last 35 plus years he has also mastered Oils, Pastels, Acrylics, Watercolors, Inks, Scratchboard, Gouache, Photography, and most recently, the highly controversial digital media ( Art Numérique ). As a commercial illustrator Johnson has not only used the computer to create art but has been involved in the development and marketing of computer imaging software for Adobe Photoshop. Working in a realistic style inspired by classic illustrators HDJ is deeply rooted and grounded in the Greco-Roman artistic tradition, Feeling that espescially with realistic art - that  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.

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( Unblended Spectracolor pencils on # 400 Strathmore Bristol board )

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Miss Ann - rendered in Prismacolor Colored Pencils

    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 realistic art media such as colored pencil drawings, pastel paintings, acrylic paintings, gouache paintings, water color paintings, and pencil drawings, and also featuring studio,  field, & aerial photography, digital painting and photo-montage and all these media mixed in an assortment of experimental combinations...Working in a wide variety of media to create his realistic art he offers his customers a host of payment and product options. He delivers the rights to these custom made copyright free realistic illustrations and old fashioned customer service when he does work-for-hire.
       HDJ's creations take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters. From Romeo and Juliet came West Side Story. 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? Picasso without African art? Public domain appropriators, one and all. He accepts select commissions to paint custom oil paintings with down payments starting at only one thousand dollars. He grants permission for most educational purposes simply for the asking. To use his existing realistic art works outside the classroom he offers low cost license offers starting around $100.00.

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



Bonus Section:

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


"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

Essay One:


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

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Soft Pastels, 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 viscously 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? 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. But snobbish art critics  favoring abstract art have declared  that realistic paintings, or illustrations are not art for a century. With so many representationalist  paintings by so many immortal master artists hanging in the Louvre, the Hermitage, and the British Museum and others I think the disrespect for realistic illustrators that dominated the 20th century is academically ridiculous as well as vain and intolerant, insisting theirs is the only valid opinion. What is your definition of Art? I believe almost any form of human expression can be raised to the level of "high art" especially  visual art and Realistic illustration...

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The detail reveals Realistic art and abstract art combined

       By my own definition of art, which is: "anything that makes you feel or think" most abstract paintings are not "real art "to me personally, because abstract paintings usually neither make me feel or think,  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 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.


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




Essay Two

Realistic Art : The Rebirth of Realism in the 21st Century

More thoughts on realistic art yesterday and today by the artist

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

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Photography, Drawing, Painting and Digital Artistry combined

The creation of Realistic art has been the goal of most artists since the dawn of  civilization. Realistic art was the pride of ancient Greece. The world's greatest museums are full of realistic art. Realistic art WAS art until the advent of the abstract expressionist movement in the twentieth century. The coming of the camera in the nineteenth century changed realistic art forever. Suddenly, realistic art was not the only way to create realism in portraits and historical records. The work of the realistic artist was suddenly made into an expensive luxury. The political power of the realistic artist was broken and they were no longer an indispensable member of society. Hostility to the creators of realistic art goes back to ancient times and the jealousy of advisers to the Pharaohs and others who were not able to spend as much time with their rulers as their portraitists.    Although with the aid of photographs, realistic art achieved levels of excellence undreamed of, the realistic art movement of the late nineteenth century was short.
     None of these people earning their living creating realistic art could compete with the speed and low cost of photographic portraiture.  Determined to survive, great realistic artists like Pablo Picasso ingeniously turned inward and began to explore things that could not be photographed in a new school of art, abstract expressionism. ( I was astonished to discover that even HE often referenced photographs! ) 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 and N.C. Wyeth 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.

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( Pandora's Box- rendered in Prismacolor pencils )

     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 art or realistic paintings which were referred to as "Mere illustrations". 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, a realistic 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 has many examples of combining music, prose, & poetry with photography and traditional realistic art media to create an experience beyond merely looking at realistic paintings.
  The twenty- first century is already seeing a new renaissance in the arts because of the world wide web. There has never been anything like it. Abstract art, computer art, photographic art, and realistic art are continuing to be separate schools of art but are also blending to create exciting new horizons. Although Digital art does offer completely new horizons to the realistic artist and the abstract 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.



All  these images & text are legally copyrighted & 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 legal non-commercial uses is freely available by simply contacting the author or visiting

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