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This painting has been selected for inclusion in the Royal Academy Young Artists' Summer Show in London (online exhibition) 2020

Kaitlyn O'Neill's Essay - Arts Award Gold level 3

Is It A Requirement To Have A University Degree In Order To Succeed At A Career In The Arts?

Being a fine artist is an exceptional career of constant discovery, where you can use those discoveries to create astonishing artistic pieces. However, art is a discipline more difficult than those not studying it realise. An artistic career is more than just painting and drawing. It’s the meaning behind the work, as well as the way the medium’s used to show that meaning, that ultimately sets a fine art career apart from other careers. University courses can help prepare you for this challenging yet rewarding career if being an artist is your ultimate aspiration.

However, there are famous artists that have never set foot into a university, which along with the misconceptions non artistic people have about art, connotes the idea that art isn’t a “real” job or career. These misconceptions further the supposed notion that someone doesn’t have to, or even shouldn’t go to university to study art.

This is what this essay will be about; I’ll be studying and exploring what this question poses, which will involve researching university courses and ways of succeeding financially as a self representing artist. I’ll also interview different fine artists with or without art related university degrees, so that all avenues of this question are explored.

There are different kinds of artists out there, with different sets of skills and talents they use to their advantage. Some advertise and sell their work through galleries like the Saatchi Gallery, while others use online websites where you can easily create a shop for your work within a number of clicks, like Etsy.

Etsy, and other websites like it aim to make the arts and crafts world accessible for artists and crafters, whether they have a university degree or not. Within just a few clicks, you’ll be signed into your own account ready to create a shop and sell your work. With intuitively straightforward websites like Etsy, there are increasingly more people engaged in the arts selling their work. From my research into Etsy, I’ve found two diverse kinds of art and craft shops that run in a similar way, but differ in terms of content and in what they sell.

The first kind of shop I encountered is what I call the artist’s shop. This type of shop is where an artist behind the shop creates the work in the shop they sell themselves, e.g. A painter who sells original floral watercolour paintings. The second kind of shop I encountered is one where they don’t sell any original work at all, but prints of famous artists’ work. They also sell these prints in different sizes and formats. For instance, they could easily have Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting printed onto t-shirts, canvases or bags. My opinion of both shops differs depending on the shop.

I believe that the first type of shop is definitely a brilliant way of using the Etsy website to show and sell your work, as well as promote your art and increase your artistic reputation. I believe that although the second type of shop is a commercially viable way of selling marketable merchandise online, in terms of art it isn’t original work. I also think that this way of managing an Etsy shop could negatively affect the integrity of the original artist’s work, as they’ve most likely worked hard for hours on the piece in question, only for it to be commercially repeated (perhaps even without their permission) at least hundreds of times if not more in a matter of minutes. This could not only devalue the artist’s work but it could also affect the artist’s sales on their own shop or website.

Moving on from Etsy, another way an artist could sell their work is by creating their own professional website, where they showcase and sell their pieces. Depending on the artist’s preferred working method, they could even use their own website as a way of promoting their Etsy shop, where they’d then sell their work. One artist that does this is Omar Obaid, who creates amazing abstract paintings in his own unique colour scheme. Alternatively, some artists use their own websites alone and make the transactions via Paypal or a debit or credit card, like artist Richard Claremont. The artists I’ve researched for this essay are either successful sellers of art or critically acclaimed artists. The difference between the two is in the way they work.

Successful sellers of art may not have art related qualifications, yet they still create amazing marketable and profitable pieces of work. Critically acclaimed artists may not produce marketable work, but they’re well renowned for their work, and may have even won prestigious art awards and competitions. There’s divided opinion regarding which artist is the most successful and reputable, as both types of artists are talented and regarded in their own right.
I believe that to be a successful artist, you have to have attributes of both types. To be successful, you’d need the creativity to successfully convey a symbolic message in a fascinating way for the viewer, like a critically acclaimed artist would. You’d also need to have a sense of what the general public would like to buy overall, and what’s popular in the art community in order to understand what they’d like to buy from you and others painting the same subject matter, like a successful seller of art would. To do this, I believe you don’t have to have a degree, although it could help you if you aspire to be more of a critically acclaimed artist than a successful seller of art.

One artist I managed to interview for this essay is Rob Pointon, who specialises in plain air oil paintings. He has a First Class B.A. (Hons) Degree from Aberystwyth University, and he’s also attended The Royal Drawing School in London for postgraduate study.

He describes his first class honours degree as “an important step” in his education and that it “helped guide me to the next step”. When I asked him about the benefits of having a degree, he mentioned how “the main benefit is time” and that “having three years to think about art and develop key areas of interest was exactly what I needed to hone my own craft and had it not have been for the structure of a university degree, I am sure I would have slipped into alternative employment that would have set out a different course for my life”. Despite the described benefits, he mentioned how he “would have liked more close tuition”, as a lot of his learning was “self taught”.

When I asked him how he believed his university degree changed his thought process, he said that university is a “wonderful way of broadening your horizons, and maturing your thought processes”. He also added his thoughts on completing his dissertation in his final year at Aberystwyth, saying how it “pushed me to delve deeper into the research of wide angle perspectives which occupied my thought process throughout much of the postgraduate Drawing Year and my first several years of self employment”.

Another question I also asked Pointon was if he had the same way of working now as he did when he started painting after his degree. He said that his painting has been “slowly evolving throughout the 13 years of being a professional artist” and that he’s “continually questioning and adapting every element of my setup, and every aspect of the work”. He also mentioned how he was “getting steadily more and more productive, learning ways of becoming more efficient to squeeze more hours of painting out of each day”. He also added how his work might “branch off to different areas”, and how for a long time he was “painting large wide angle scenes”, and how he was now painting “much smaller scale, more fleeting subject matter”, and how for a while he was “obsessed with simplifying and fracturing scenes into angular arrangements following influence from Vorticism and Futurism (art movements)”.

For the penultimate question, I asked Pointon what qualifications and qualities he believed someone required in order to become an artist. He responded by saying that “You need to love what you do wholeheartedly, and know you need to create art whether successful or not. You need to be determined and confident in your abilities enough to sell yourself to other people, whilst being humble enough to know you have a lifetime of learning ahead of you to get anywhere close to the masters you admire”.

To conclude the interview, I asked Pointon his opinion on whether you have to have critical acclaim, financial freedom, or both in order to be successful. For this question, he answered by saying that “The type of success I, and a lot of my peers are aiming for, is purely rooted in the quality of the work. When your work is honed to a high enough standard it shall get noticed and acclaim shall follow. Although one of my favourite, and mankinds favourite artists, Vincent Van Gogh, didn’t receive acclaim or any degree of financial freedom in his lifetime”. He finished his answer with “If you love your work and that is what you spend most of your time doing, there is no greater wealth”.

Pointon’s words are definitely important to hear, as his insights into studying fine art at degree level (and how that’s helped him take the next step) appear to have helped him become the artist he is today. His opinions on financially successful and critically acclaimed artists have given me a deeper understanding on this essay’s topic. It’s also reminded me that one thing both types of artists have in common is that they’re passionate about what they create, regardless of whether they have a degree or not. Based on Pointon’s words, this attribute appears to be important to have in order to be successful.

The second artist I interviewed is Angela Melkis, a painter who specialises in painting trees in all seasons. She didn’t study art at university like Pointon did, but in my opinion that doesn’t affect her work whatsoever. She was one of the artists I interviewed when I visited the Manchester Art Fair in October 2019, so the questions I asked her differed from those I asked Pointon later in the year.

I started the interview by asking her how she started as an artist. Melkis said that “Like a lot of artists from a young age, as soon as I could hold a crayon I was drawing. I was fond of horses, so that’s what I used to do, then I went on doing horse portraits”. She then continued by saying “I didn’t go to art college when I left school because I was horse mad, so I went down that road, but I’ve always drawn and painted”. Melkis also stated that “when I reached around 25, I found that people were actually willing to pay for my paintings”.

She also mentioned how “It’s all about hard work, it’s about finding your own individuality and your own style, and something that nobody else is doing”. She continued by adding “But that comes with playing, you’ve got to learn to play and that’s the main thing to develop your style”. She explained how “then it’s just being brave, getting it out there, approaching galleries, doing the art fairs”. Melkis also acknowledged to me that “a lot of it’s online now, so your Instagram account, get it seen”, mentioning my Instagram account. She then ended her answer by saying that “it’s all about finding your own style, and that’s the best way to do it”.

Melkis’ words are just as important as Pointon’s, as they show that she utilises her skills as an artist in a similar way to how a financially successful artist typically would. They also portray her as a relevant example of someone who’s managed to cultivate a successful career without ever going to university. Her words have also given me an insight into how she became successful in her work, as she mentioned that the best way to do it (starting up an art career) was through hard work, finding your own individuality and your own style. Finding a style is something she also reiterates at the end of the interview, which to me indicates that it’s also a pertinent attribute an artist needs to have in order to be successful.

Throughout the essay, I’ve only mentioned university degrees relating to the fine arts and how those degrees (or lack thereof) may help an artist when they create their work, but what if an artist has a different kind of degree that wasn’t directly related to the fine arts? Would this be something that affects an artist’s work?

Another artist I interviewed at the Manchester Art Fair is Damien John Stewart, a painter who specialises in portraiture that’s painted in the abstract realism art movement. He studied Design Practice at university level, which to my understanding is something that anyone can put into practice, where the focus is to build a design that responds to a specific objective or theme.

The first question I asked him was if he was a professional artist and if he made a living out of art. He said “No, I don’t actually, no”. When I asked him about how he made his living, he stated that he worked in “academic publishing”. Another question I asked him was if he had a website where he showcased and sold his work. Stewart said that he did. I followed that question by asking him if he was represented by a gallery, to which he replied with “Not at the moment, I have been, but not at the moment”.

I then asked him whether he sold his work through any other outlet, like shows, exhibitions, Ebay, Etsy, etc. He mentioned that he used Instagram. When I asked him which of the outlets I mentioned in the previous question he believed were the most useful for an artist, he elaborated on how Instagram “is a great platform for an artist, purely because it’s visual” he also continued by mentioning how the app “enables you to show progress and development right from the very very start all the way to the finished piece”. When I asked him if he studied art at university or if he was self taught, he answered by saying “No, but I studied design practice at university, so it did have a creative lead I suppose, I didn’t paint at university, but I’ve painted since I was very very young and also drawn all the time so I always had a desire to do it I suppose is the easiest way to put it”.

To conclude the interview, I asked Stewart what qualifications and qualities he thought an artist required in order to professionally succeed, to which he mentioned how he thought a degree “is definitely worth having” because “it gives you credibility”. He then talked about how practicing is key, and how he painted every single day while effectively working two jobs. He reiterated his previous advice on practicing constantly, because “the only way you can get better” is to “keep doing it”.

He also discussed how “There’s a lot of artists that do it (practicing), then all of a sudden stop doing it, then suddenly try to pick it back up again, and it doesn’t work”. He ends his answer by further reiterating his advice, addressing to me how “You’ve got to keep developing, keep changing” and to “just keep modifying constantly, and keep exploring the way you do as well”. Stewart then advised that “If you feel too comfortable doing it one way, it’s time to change a different way, as you can get static very quickly”.

I definitely agree with Stewart’s words, as they’re certainly important to hear, in particular when he mentioned how you have to keep practicing in order to become a successful artist. His design practice education at university has probably also helped him in some way, as he most likely applies what he learned there when creating his pieces with the realism seen in traditional realistic portraiture, but at the same time keeping it loose and expressive to keep to the abstract realism that’s unique to his style.

Referring to the entire essay, I believe I’ve no doubt learned a lot from the artists I interviewed. It fascinated me to see how they haven’t necessarily started their careers in the same manner with the same education, but how that hasn’t changed the level of success they’ve had. It’s also enlightening to see that you truly can have an artistic career no matter what education you have, although you do need to work hard for it and you also need to develop a style, based on what the artists I’ve interviewed have told me.
In summary, having researched the ways an artist can start a career as well as the education they can obtain, I believe that a university degree isn’t required in order to start an artistic career, although they can be useful if you choose to work towards one. What is required however, in order to be successful is the passion to create the art as well as the determination to keep practicing and honing your creative process, which is how artists like Vincent Van Gogh managed to become successful. Van Gogh still painted, even though his paintings weren’t recognised and exhibited until shortly before his death.

If an artist wants to have a successful career, they can go to university and get a degree, although they won’t necessarily miss out on anything if they choose not to go down that route. All they need to do is work hard at what they do, and success will eventually come to them in one way or another.

A Level Art Essay by Kaitlyn O'Neill

Conceal or Reveal?
A study of the use of symbolism and concealment in paintings

In this essay, I intend to explore the artist’s use of concealment and symbolism as fundamental devices in order to either conceal or reveal specific intentions within their works. By the conclusion, I intend to show the differences between concealing and revealing certain parts of an art piece and the likely motivations.

The aesthetics of symbolism are important to not just the artist, but the viewer as well because they will have to be able to read what the artist is trying to communicate within the piece, and with different viewers come different interpretations of the same piece. These artists need to leave visual clues in their works to ensure the viewers reach the conclusion they wish. My intention is to take this further by also exploring “concealment”, which juxtaposes against “symbolism”.

The seed for the theme germinated from a photograph of me wearing the elaborate eye test equipment at the optician’s, which completely concealed my eyes. Given that the eyes are supposedly the windows of the soul, I thought the eye equipment in the photograph would be an interesting focal point to play around with as they conceal my soul.

I found it interesting that the equipment I was wearing in the picture partially covered my face, preventing the viewer from reading the eyes while also adding extra intrigue to the photograph. I realised at this point that I wanted to study how an artist conceals and/or reveals different parts of their work, in order to direct the viewer towards a specific reaction.

Thinking of this starting point, a photograph of my mum wearing the same eye equipment also came to mind. Upon seeing this photograph, I decided to use that instead as it links in with the photographs of my family members.

I started to do this by researching more about symbolism. During my research, I discovered a form of concealment that initially may not seem as such, in where a person only shows what they perceive to be the best parts of themselves. This is often prevalent in social media websites and apps such as Instagram, where you can see many people post pictures of themselves; some are angled, others are side on or use filters to emphasize certain features. Something similar happens to certain paintings, in where the characteristics of the initial composition are changed to render the subject in a certain manner.

“Swagger Portraiture” is a term used to describe work commissioned to portray the sitter in a particular flattering light. For example, Queen Elizabeth I and Michael Jackson commissioned several of these portraits to further their reputation and careers. I will be looking in depth into some of them in this essay.

Queen Elizabeth I Portraits Analysis

Queen Elizabeth I influenced the Tudor times, and her reign was an important one we still remember today. Throughout her reign, she took pride in her appearance almost to the point it could’ve been seen as vain. This I believe is shown in the elaborate staging of her portraits; if you order them chronologically, you’ll notice the changes in her appearance.

Two of her portraits show her youth and vitality. The first portrait portrays her in a red dress, presumably before she was crowned as the queen. As you can see, she isn’t wearing an extravagant collar and her dress has a simpler pattern than the other dresses she’s wearing in her other portraits. These reasons are why it seems like this painting was commissioned when she was a princess, when political intrigue was unnecessary.

Queen Elizabeth I When A Princess, Attributed to William Scrots [1]

The second portrait seems to clearly display her title as the Queen of England. Based on the composition, the tone and the colour, it looks like it depicts her coronation, or at least shows her in her coronation outfit. This is also because she’s holding a sceptre as well as a globus cruciger, common items to hold in a coronation. Linking into her other portraits, most of them show her holding something to symbolise a meaning within her paintings such as the Spanish armada portrait in which she’s holding the world to symbolize her power.

Queen Elizabeth I Coronation Robes [2]

Another portrait is the one where Queen Elizabeth I’s dress has eyes and ears embroidered on it. This is to symbolize she has eyes and ears everywhere, and that she knows everything. This pattern on her dress could also signify that she may have spies everywhere, thus being her “eyes and ears”. The way she’s positioned in the portrait also shows a sense of dignity and pride, as well as the overall power she has. This is clearly designed to communicate a strong message to the viewer.

Queen Elizabeth Rainbow Portrait [3]

Queen Elizabeth Spanish Armada Portrait [4]

Another portrait of the queen is one that shows the Spanish Armada in the background of the windows. The interpretation of her in this portrait clearly shows her power and reign over England, which is symbolized in many ways. One way in which this is symbolized is that she’s wearing a dress no one else aside from the rich or royal would wear. The dress is very extravagant and potentially garish for the Tudor times. Another way her reign is symbolized is her right hand is placed on top of the globe. This clearly connotes her title as the queen, as it shows she supposedly has control over the world.

Queen Elizabeth Portrait Painted after her death [5]

The last portrait doesn’t show her power and control very much at all. If anything, it shows her looking tired and weary, as though all the worries of the world are on her shoulders. This leads me to believe this portrait wasn’t painted at her request. There is also a skeleton in the background, which further supports my theory as skeletons are usually associated with death and it shows the former Queen in such a light that it’s as though she was possibly dying or dead when the portrait was conceptualized. Another related point is that her posture isn’t as straight as it is in other pictures; she’s slouching and leaning her head onto her right hand. This also leads me to believe this was painted after her death. When I was looking at these paintings, I noticed that almost all of them were painted to show Queen Elizabeth in a light that made people feel more inclined to respect her. Portraiture in the past was more important than it is now, as they had no digital means of capturing and conveying information, which was why they communicated using this method.

Jonathan Brown, a Professor of Fine Arts at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, said “Since antiquity, portraits of rulers have reflected the aspirations, ideals and pretentions of those in power. Because these images epitomize a ruler’s self-concept, they are valuable sources for understanding the personalities and programs of the sitters. The messages of ruler portraits can be decoded by standard methods of content analysis, but equally important is the subtlety of conception and the quality of execution”.

His words imply that the portraits painted during the past reflected what those in power desire, their perfect way of life and possibly their overshadowed flaws as well. As a result, these paintings are fundamental sources to understand the sitter’s intentions and traits. Also, this quote explains that content analysis alongside a subtle conception and successful execution is important in decoding a symbolic message within a portrait.

Michael Jackson “On the Wall” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Michael Jackson was one of the most influential singers and pop stars of all time. His work significantly influenced today’s music. He revived the tradition of Swagger Portraiture. He also requested that contemporary artists should paint him in an archaic style; the style of royal portraiture, or “ruler portraits” as Brown called them. Some of these portraits were on display at the National Portrait Gallery in the summer of 2018.

Michael Jackson Panoramic Painting

One of the paintings is one where Michael Jackson is wearing a bright red shirt, holding the hands of young children as various other children walk behind them on a bright path in the countryside.

The portrait portrays Michael as a leader to some extent. This can be seen in the colour of his pants. His dark pants are different to what the children are wearing, which are outfits of lighter colours. Upon initial inspection of the picture, I thought the painter should have done more to depict Michael as a leader as he almost blends in with the children due to the lighting and the clothing. However, I now believe this was intentional as Michael’s home was called “Neverland”, which is a place where children never age. He never wanted to age past childhood.

 Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson) Painted by Kahinde Wiley [6]

Another portrait depicts Michael mounted onto a horse wearing armour. He is portrayed in a heroic way, as though he’s more than just a knight. This is symbolized in the embellishments and different metals within the armour, setting him above the other knights in the background and likening him to a prince or king.

The horse is also adorned with similar wear to that of Michael. Its saddle looks as though it is a bright blue and gold rug, which matches the cloak Michael is wearing. The matching colours on both the horse and Michael show that they are a part of the same team.

Michael was as rich as royalty and so was able to dictate how the artist portrayed him. However in modern times when information is more available, he was less able to control how the public perceived him as they have new alternate sources of information whereas Queen Elizabeth’s only had her portraiture.

By now it’s clear that symbolism is used in many ways, and artists use symbolism all the time in their works to convey a message. One example of this is when it is used to convey a political message. An artist called Kahinde Wiley is the person behind the Michael Jackson horseback painting and another painting of the former President of the United States, Barack Obama. Some people believe that the series of “Obey” paintings by Shepard Fairey helped Obama win the election.

In contrast to using symbolism, I’m also interested in how artists deliberately conceal aspects of their work. For example, how an artist might use certain colours in their works to display a certain emotion or how they take something out to portray the absence of that thing.

Every day, true emotions are constantly concealed or revealed via complex symbolic visual signals. For example, during bereavement, a person might conceal their feelings from other people by wearing a pair of dark sunglasses to a funeral to conceal their tear stained eyes. I am interested in the way sunglasses are depicted by artists. For instance, in Karen Appleton’s painting of a young woman, the viewer does not see the eyes only the sunglasses. This leads me to wonder whether the woman in the portrait was actually feeling a positive emotion. Despite the apparent atmosphere being vivid and bright, there could be more to the woman than what meets the eye, or in this case the sunglasses.

Jose Davila: St. Basil’s Cathedral “There But Not” [7]

I am curious to explore how artists obscure pertinent aspects of the subjects of their paintings in order to depict a particular nuance to the viewer or perhaps they have hidden the subject’s true nature. Conversely, some artists have deliberately included additional symbolism for the purposes of directing the viewer towards a particular outcome. For example, Artists such as Jose Davila use both this and concealment to show the absence of something. An image he created of St. Basil’s Cathedral for example shows the absence of remarkable structures such as this, which leads the viewer to consider the form and purpose of it in a more acute way than if it was still there.

Using Davila’s form of negative symbolism, I experimented in the style of his “There But Not” pieces to communicate my own messages within my own work. My first piece is set in an apocalyptic looking pile of rubble, which I hoped would make the viewer consider a foreign invasion or a similar kind of disaster. In the original image, a person was crouched on the ground holding their head looking very distressed. Through the removal of the person, I wanted to symbolize the absence of life in the midst of a disaster scene. I hoped the viewer might consider the humanity of those who lived through the disaster – who were they? Were they injured? The body language of the absent person communicated the severity of the distress of the people involved. My second response was a picture of Kim-Jong Un with a cheering crowd behind him. I removed him from the image to symbolize the significance of political figures in today’s world and the controversy they can cause. His easily recognisable silhouette helps direct the viewer to a conclusion. His absence also forces the viewer to consider the faces of the surrounding crowd and the veracity of their expressions when confronted by a leader. To further my response to Davila’s technique, I continued to use it in several of my design ideas.

Seung-Hwan Oh’s photographs can be perceived to show a clear theme. The faces he warps, distorts and conceals using different methods including fungal deterioration can portray the confusion of emotion, concealment and potentially identity as well.

Seung-Hwan Oh Untitled “Impermanence” [8]

Oh showcases a lack of structure and order within his works. The way he photographs his subjects depicts them in different poses showing different expressions. In one of his photographs, the subject is wearing a mask which adds curiosity to the photograph itself. Who is this person? Why did they wear that mask when their picture was taken?

These artists show ways someone could conceal something, whether it be something about their identity such as the eyes like Appleton or the way someone interprets something or someone like Davila.

John Virtue: Landscape No. 177 [9]

John Virtue produces monochromatic pieces using charcoal, paint, markers, etc. He uses this to his advantage to conceal certain facets of his work. His work is intriguing and interesting, particularly his colour choice because he applies the various tones of black and white to hide certain layers, creating an imaginary fog over the subject and concealing the true nature of his pieces. When asked about the use of colour in his paintings, Virtue said: “I couldn’t express what I clearly wanted to express with coloured materials. I got rid of everything”. [14]

From his perspective, the quote can be understood. The colours used should be considered depending on the final piece. For instance, there are usually no bright colours in a dark piece. Virtue saw colour as an unnecessary distraction [4] that hindered him from expressing himself as he desired.

Derren Brown: Jack Nicholson & Madonna Caricature [10]


Despite being mostly well known for his work as a magician, illusionist and hypnotist, Derren Brown is also known for his paintings of household names such as Dame Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. Brown specialises in photo-realistic portraiture, which is what drew me in. Anyone viewing his paintings can clearly see the amount of detail he puts into his works.

One of these portraits was one of the Patrick Hughes. Hughes is an artist himself, who paints Op Art paintings that seem to follow you around no matter what angle you’re looking at them. His involvement in the art industry and the links to symbolism compelled me to paint a copy of this painting. Painting it helped me not only use oil paints in an efficient manner but also to see how Brown does his paintings. The glasses Hughes wears in the painting give him an air of intelligence which is further emphasized with the clear rims.

Patrick Hughes Portrait by Derren Brown [11]

For my final piece, I chose to paint a massive version of the photograph of my mum wearing the optician’s eye equipment. Including the symbolism I added onto the painting, I believe I was successful in portraying my mum in a way that obscures her true self yet it is symbolized in other ways like the eye equipment. For instance, I added links into Queen Elizabeth I’s portraiture by adding the phrase “Non sine Sole Iris”, which means “No rainbow without the sun” in Latin to show that she is the sun in my life that constantly guides and helps me.

In conclusion, upon researching this topic I realize there are many ways to conceal and symbolize important aspects of paintings. From the symbolism of the eyes and ears in Queen Elizabeth’s rainbow portrait to the concealment of the subjects in Seung-Hwan Oh’s works, there is no end to the many ways symbolism and concealment can be portrayed on a canvas.



  1. https://www.rct.uk/collection/404444/elizabeth-i-when-a-princess
  2. https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw02070/Queen-Elizabeth-I
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I_Rainbow_Portrait.jpg
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armada_Portrait#/media/File:Elizabeth_I_(Armada_Portrait).jpg
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_I_of_England#/media/File:Elizabeth-I-Allegorical-Po.jpg
  2. https://www.kehindewiley.com/misc2010/Equestrian_Portrait_MJ.html
  1. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/jun/27/michael-jackson-on-the-wall-review-artists-dream-model-national-portrait-gallery-london#img-3
  2. https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/arts/michael-jackson-on-the-wall-review-more-vanilla-than-thriller-a3873131.html
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-44647548
  1. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/jose-davila-architecture-book-there-but-not
  1. http://derrenbrown.co.uk/painting-patrick-hughes/
  2. http://www.beautifuldecay.com/2014/09/19/seung-hwan-oh-fuses-art-microbiology-bacteria-manipulated-photographs/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Virtue
  4. https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/LANDSCAPE-NO–177/5B3466E3595F700B
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2005/mar/08/academicexperts.highereducationprofile
  7. https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/books/104428/Derren-Brown-s-star-faces
  8. Jean Cassou. Encyclopedie du Symbolisme. Somogy, Paris, 1979
  1. 17. Rosina Neginsky Symbolism, its origins and its consequences
  1. 18. Claude DeBussy, Monsieur Croche: The Dilettante Hater, 62



  1. The journal of interdisciplinary history, Jonathan Brown Vol. 17, No. 1 The evidence of art: Images and meaning in history (1986 pg. 137-154) Article called Enemies of Flattery: Velazquez’s portraits of Phillip IV
  1. Jones, Norman. The Birth of the Elizabethan Age: England in the 1560s (Blackwell, 1993)
  1. Bridgen, Susan (2001). New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors, 1485–1603. New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-89985-2.