Sample P10 from Jay Williams, The Forger. New York: Atheneum, 1961. Pp. 4-8. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,022 words 722 (35.7%) quotesP10

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Jay Williams, The Forger. New York: Atheneum, 1961. Pp. 4-8.

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Among us , we three handled quite a few small commissions , from spot drawings for advertising agencies uptown to magazine work and quick lettering jobs . Each of us had his own specialty besides . George did wonderful complicated pen-and-ink drawings like something out of a medieval miniature : hundreds of delicate details crammed into an eight-by-ten sheet and looking as if they had been done under a jeweler's glass . He also drew precise crisp spots , which he sold to various literary and artistic journals , The New Yorker , for instance , or Esquire . I did book jackets and covers for paperback reprints : naked girls huddling in corners of dingy furnished rooms while at the doorway , daring the cops to take him , is the guy in shirt sleeves clutching a revolver . The book could be The Brothers Karamazov , but it would still have the same jacket illustration . I remember once I did a jacket for Magpie Press ; ; the book was a fine historical novel about Edward 3 , , and I did a week of research to get the details just right : the fifteenth-century armor , furnishings , clothes . I even ferreted out the materials from which shields were made -- linden wood covered with leather -- so I'd get the light reflections accurate . McKenzie , the art editor , took one look at my finished sketch and said , `` Nothing doing , Rufus . In the first place , it's static ; ; in the second place , it doesn't look authentic ; ; and in the third place , it would cost a fortune to reproduce in the first place -- you've got six colors there including gold '' . I said , `` Mr. McKenzie , it is as authentic as careful research can make it '' . He said , `` That may be , but it isn't authentic the way readers think . They know from their researches into television and the movies that knights in the middle ages had beautiful flowing haircuts like Little Lord Fauntleroy , and only the villains had beards . And girls couldn't have dressed like that -- it isn't transparent enough '' . In the end , I did the same old picture , the naked girl and the guy in the doorway , only I put a Lord Byron shirt on the guy , gave him a sword instead of a pistol , and painted in furniture from the stills of a costume movie . McKenzie was as happy as a clam . `` That's authenticity '' , he said .

As for Donald , he actually sold paintings . We all painted in our spare time , and we had all started as easel painters with scholarships , but he was the only one of us who made any regular money at it . Not much ; ; he sold perhaps three or four a year , and usually all to Joyce Monmouth or her friends . He had style , a real inner vision of his very own . It was strange stuff -- it reminded me of the pictures of a child , but a child who has never played with other kids and has lived all its life with adults . There was the freshness of color , the freedom of perception , the lack of self-consciousness , but with a twist that made the forms leap from the page and smack you in the eye . We used to kid him by saying he only painted that way because he was so nearsighted . It may have been true for all I know , because his glasses were like the bottoms of milk bottles , but it didn't prevent the paintings from being exciting . He also had , at times , an uncanny absent-minded air like a sleepwalker ; ; he would look right through you while you were talking to him , and if you said , `` For Christ's sake , Donald , you've got Prussian blue all over your shirt '' , he would smile , and nod , and an hour later the paint would be all over his pants as well . Mrs. Monmouth thought of him as her discovery , and she paid two to three hundred dollars for a painting . It was all gravy , and Donald didn't need much to live on ; ; none of us did . We shared the expenses of the studio , and we all lived within walking distance of it , in cheap lodgings of one kind or another .

Attending the life class was my idea -- or rather , Askington's idea , but I was ripe for it , and the other two wouldn't have gone if I hadn't talked them into it . I wanted to paint again . I hadn't done a serious picture in almost a year . It wasn't just the pressure of work , although that was the excuse I often used , even to myself . It was the kind of work I was doing , the quality of the ambition it awoke in me , that kept me from painting . I kept saying , `` If I could just build up a reputation for myself , make some real money , get to be well known as an illustrator -- like Peter Askington , for instance -- then I could take some time off and paint '' . Askington was a kind of goal I set myself ; ; I had admired him long before I talked to him . It looked to me as though he had everything an artist could want , joy in his work , standing in the profession , a large and steady income . The night we first met , at one of Mrs. Monmouth's giant parties , he was wearing a brown cashmere jacket with silver buttons and a soft pink Viyella shirt ; ; instead of a necktie he wore a leather bolo drawn through a golden ring in which was set a lump of pale pure jade . This set his tone : richness of texture and color , and another kind of richness as well , for his clothing and decorations would have paid the Brush-off's rent for a year . He was fifteen years older than I -- forty-four -- but full of spring and sparkle . He didn't look like what I thought of as an old man , and his lively and erudite speech made him seem even younger . He was one of the most prominent magazine illustrators in America ; ; you saw one of his paintings on the cover of one or another of the slick national magazines every month . Life had included him in its `` Modern American Artists '' series and had photographed him at his studio in the East Sixties ; ; the corner of it you could see in the photograph looked as though it ought to have Velasquez in it painting the royalty of Spain .

I had a long talk with him . We went into Mrs. Monmouth's library , which had low bookshelves all along the walls , and above them a Modigliani portrait , a Jackson Pollock twelve feet long , and a gorgeous Miro with a yellow background , that looked like an inscription from a Martian tomb . The fireplace had tiles made for Mrs. Monmouth by Picasso himself . Like certain expensive restaurants , just sitting there gave you the illusion of being wealthy yourself .

In the course of our talk , Askington mentioned that he spent part of each week studying . `` By yourself '' ? ? I asked . `` No , I take classes with different people '' , he said . `` I don't think I've reached the point , yet , where I can say I know everything I ought to know about the craft . Besides , it's important to the way a painter thinks that he should move in a certain atmosphere , an atmosphere in which he may absorb the ideas of other masters , as Durer went to Italy to meet Bellini and Mantegna '' .

He made a circle with his thumb and fingers . `` Painting isn't this big , you know . It doesn't embrace only the artist , alone before his easel . It is as large as all of art , interdependent , varied , multitudinous '' . He threw his arms wide , his face shining . `` The artist is like a fragment of a mosaic -- no , he is more than that , a virtuoso performer in some vast philharmonic . One of these days , I'm going to organize a gigantic exhibition that will span everything that's being painted these days , from extreme abstract expressionism to extreme photorealism , and then you'll be able to see at a glance how much artists have in common with each other . The eye is all , inward or outward . Ah , what a title for the exhibition : The Eye is All '' ! !

`` What do you study '' ? ? I asked . I was fascinated ; ; just listening to him made me feel intelligent .

`` I'm studying anatomy with Burns '' , he replied . `` Maybe you know him . He teaches at the Manhattan School of Art '' . I nodded . I had studied with Burns ten years before , during the scholarship year the Manhattan gave me , along with the five-hundred-dollar prize for my paintings of bums on Hudson Street . Burns and I had not loved each other . `` I'm also studying enameling with Hajime Iijima '' , he went on , `` and twice a week I go to a life class taught by Pendleton '' .

`` Osric Pendleton '' ? ? I said . `` My God , is he still alive ? ? He must be a million years old . I went to a retrospective of his work when I was eighteen , and I thought he was a contemporary of Cezanne's '' .

`` Not quite '' . Askington laughed . `` He's about sixty , now . Still painting , still a kind of modern impressionist , beautiful canvases of mountains and farms . He even makes the city look like one of Thoreau's hangouts . I've always admired him , and when I heard he was taking a few pupils , I went to him and joined his class '' .

`` Yes , it sounds great '' , I said , `` but suppose you don't think of yourself as an impressionist painter '' ? ?

`` You're missing the point '' , he said . `` He has the magical eye . And he is a great man . Contact with him is stimulating . And that's the trouble with so many artists today . They lack stimulation . They sit alone in their rooms and try to paint , and only succeed in isolating themselves still farther from life . That's one of the reasons art is becoming a useless occupation . In the Middle Ages , in the Renaissance , right up to the early nineteenth century , the painter was a giant in the world . He was an artisan , a man who studied his trade and developed his craftsmanship the way a goldsmith or a wood carver did . He filled a real need , showing society what it looked like , turning it inside out , portraying its wars and its leaders , its ugliness and its beauties , reflecting its profound religious impulses . He was a propagandist -- they weren't afraid of the word , then -- satirist , nature lover , philosopher , scientist , what you will , a member of every party and of no party . But look at us today ! ! We hold safe little jobs illustrating tooth-paste ads or the salacious incidents in trivial novels , and most of our easel painting is nothing but picking the fluff out of the navel so it can be contemplated in greater purity . A bunch of amateur dervishes ! ! What we need is to get back to the group , to learning and apprenticeship , to the cafe and the school '' .

He could certainly talk . The upshot of the evening was that I got the address of Pendleton's studio -- or rather , of the studio in which he gave his classes , for he didn't work there himself -- and joined the life class , which met every Tuesday and Thursday from ten to twelve in the morning . It was an awkward hour , but I didn't have to punch any time clock , and it only meant that sometimes I had to stay a couple of hours later at the drawing board to finish up a job . After a short time , both George and Donald joined the class with me so they wouldn't feel lonely , and we used to hang a sign on the door of the Brush-off reading out to work . It was mostly for the benefit of the mailman , because hardly anybody else ever visited us .

In a way , Askington was right . `` Stimulating '' was the word for it . I don't know that it was always as rewarding as I had expected it to be . Partly , it was because Pendleton himself wasn't what I anticipated . I had come prepared to worship at the feet of this classic , and he turned out to be a rather bitter old man who smelled of dead cigars .

No , that isn't quite fair . Actually , there was a lot of force in him , which is why I kept on in that class instead of quitting after a week .