John Howard Little was an early California realist landscape painter who captured the essence of the new American frontier. He was a member of what could be considered the second generation of San Diego painters, following in the footsteps of Maurice Braun, Charles Fries and Charles Reiffel.
Howard Little was born in 1883 to Charles Otis Little and Julia Griswold Little, a prominent Delaware Ohio family. As a young man he became an accomplished photographer and taxidermist, skills that would later benefit his work as a muralist for nature exhibits.
At the age of twenty, he travelled west, to Colorado, where he worked as an assistant exhibit preparer for the Denver Museum of Natural History, painting the backgrounds for wildlife exhibits. He also began landscape painting under the guidance of the painter Henry Read.
In 1921 Howard and and his wife Mildred moved to Chula Vista, California and where he began doing commercial illustration in addition to his painting. He studied with the well-known painters Alfred Mitchell and Maurice Braun, and in the mid-1930’s began painting professionally. In 1940 he was hired to create a series of exhibits for the San Diego Museum of Natural History, the largest of which was the celebrated Migratory Birds of the Salton Sea that opened to the public in September of the following year.
Howard Little was a highly regarded painter in the San Diego Art scene, often showing side by side with Alfred Mitchell and Elliot Torrey, and became well known for his realistic painting style. His work can be found in collections throughout the United States as well as England. He continued to paint until his death in 1965.