Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

As some of you know, I attend classes through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division (AIPOD) which is sometimes simply referred to as the Art Institute Online (AIO). I have received a few questions since I started blogging about the school so I thought that I would go ahead and write up an entry that summarizes those discussions.

1. Does the online campus match up to a typical brick and mortar school? Do they show the same level of professionalism?

The professors come from all over the country and typically teach at a ground-based university as well. FND110 Drawing was a very rewarding class and the teacher was a pleasure to work with. ART1020 History of Art in Early Civilization was very challenging and the instructor really cared about the students learning the material. (I have actually kept in touch with her. She thinks that I should pursue a Master of Fine Arts once I have earned my Bachelor of Science in Photography.)

All of the professors and administrators have been professional and extremely helpful. Due to the accelerated format, it is quite common to read four to six chapters a week and the assignments can each take up to 8 hours with the research. My only experience previously was community college but this is much more intense.

My academic advisor calls or sends me email periodically to check on my progress. She also sends me email congratulating me on my good grades which really helps the self-esteem.

There is also a student run group on Flickr: AIO Photography.

2. I will be taking online classes in photography through the Art Institute. I am wondering if you have had any issues using your G.I. Bill? What did Uncle Sam pay for? Just classes or are tools (e.g. film, camera, etc.) included?

Veterans/Active Duty members, if you have not yet filled out your application for eligibility, you should do so now! The F.A.Q. claims "six to eight weeks" but that is not always true. I applied with the Veteran's Administration at the end of April. The Buffalo regional office handles all claims from AIPOD/AIO and they downloaded my application on May 5th. After three or four calls spread out over the past three months, I finally received my Certificate of Eligibility on October 26th. That's five months and three weeks if you do not have a calendar handy.

Your benefits will depend on which chapter of the G.I. Bill applies to you. I fall under Chapter 30 Active Duty and that will reimburse me only for tuition. Be sure to look at the VA's Benefit Comparison Chart.

I have yet to receive my first payment. According to the VA, they are extremely backlogged right now so the turn-around time on payments is pretty slow.

Update: When I arrived home last night, the check was waiting for me. That last phone call, where I asked for an inquiry to be opened, must have done the trick.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quote for the day

"Art is all about visual stimulation; both color and composition have to work together in order to captivate the audience."
- Matthew Musgrove

Yep, I said it. I was writing a critique for my Color Theory class and out popped this little gem, almost. Before posting it here I made a minor change from what I wrote yesterday; that semicolon was originally the conjunction 'and'.

Now if only I would heed my own advice...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week 1 Assignment 3 Color Exercise First Draft

This is my first draft of the color scales. I chose orange because no one else had done it yet. I created an Excel spreadsheet where I calculated the various values of saturation and brightness to use. I then plugged those into the color picker and stored the new color as a swatch. Along the way I taught myself how to use some of the advanced features of the color picker in Adobe Photoshop.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"The Happy Accidents of the Swing"

WARNING: This post could be construed as vulgar or at the very least provocative. Do not read any further if you might be offended.

I really enjoy the risque "intrigue" paintings from the Rococo period. So it was not a hard choice to make when I chose Jean-Honoré Fragonard's "The Happy Accidents of the Swing" (Les Hasards Heureux de l'Escarpolette), which he painted in 1766, as the subject for an art history assignment. I learned much about 18th century symbolism along the way. Bear with me as I bare all of the dirty little secrets.

Ah! The scene is a tranquil park full of trees, bushes and flowers in bloom. Just look at the details that Fragonard put into this lovely scene: the flower petals, the leaves, the trellis and fountain in the far distance.

In the background we see a statue of two cupids riding a dolphin which symbolizes "the impatient surge of love" much like Ovid described in Metamorphoses. [1]

In the foreground we see a pretty, young woman being pushed in a swing by an older man, possibly a bishop.

The painting was possibly commissioned by a member of the clery which might explain the appearance of the older gentleman. Baron de Saint-Julien, Receiver General for the French Clergy, owned the original painting until his death in 1788. [2] At one point he was considered to have been the patron.

Unbeknown to the gentleman, the young woman's lover is hiding in the rose bushes in front of and below her. The cupid statue to the left is holding a finger over his mouth as if saying "your secret is safe with me!"

Her lover is in the perfect position for a private show. He can see her milky thighs and pink garter belt. The implied back and forth motion of the swing elicits imagery of sexual intercourse. With each swing, she spreads her legs a little wider apart.

At this point, the 18th century women would have been blushing and the men would have been quite, *ahem*, interested.

Her lover gasps as his heart skips a beat. He can hardly believe his eyes. She has opened her legs to the point where he can see past her "frothy dress of cream and juicy pink" [1] and chemise, all the way to her hidden pink rose: her vulva!

In the 18th century, the only undergarment worn by anyone was a chemise; yes, even the men wore them back then. I had to include the quoted description of the dress because it sounds so similar to the description of female genitalia, which I almost expounded.

The young lover is holding his left arm erect and holding his hat in his hand.

At this point the men would have taken their hats off and would be holding them in front of their groin!
Fragonard could not show the young man with an erection as that would have been vulgar, so he did the next best thing. The hat could further reinforce the penile imagery but I believe that it represented a condom, or English redingote [3], because such contraceptive measures have been used since the Egyptian era. [4]

She opens her legs wider and wider with each arc. Her lover thrusts towards her.

Be careful son or you will prick your -- self on a thorn.

She reaches the climax -- of the arc. She extends her leg in ecstasy and she lets out a little sigh as her shoe is released from her beautiful foot.

The shoe is the female counterpart of the hat. A bare foot and a flying shoe in French paintings of the period symbolized lost virginity just like the more common symbol of a broken pitcher.

Bonus: If you have not done so yet, open this link in a new tab or window. Above the lover and to the right of the base of the cupid statue is what appears to be a couple embracing and engaged in a long kiss.

1. "Fragonard's The Happy Accidents of the Swing." ART at the SUNY Oneonta. State University of New York, College at Oneonta, Web. 4 Oct 2009. <>.
2. Labedzki, Annette "His Most Famous Painting (The Swing) - Jean-Honore Fragonard." His Most Famous Painting (The Swing) - Jean-Honore Fragonard. 9 Aug. 2009. 4 Oct 2009 <>.
3. Guyotjeannin, C. "[The history of the contraceptive sheath][Contracept Fertil Sex]." MEDLINE (1984): n. pag. Web. 4 Oct 2009. <>.
4. "History of Sex Timeline." Durex. SSL International PLC, Web. 4 Oct 2009. <>.