N.C. Wyeth, the American artist who illustrated such literary classics as Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, milked the morning for all it was worth. He rose at 5 a.m. and immediately set to chopping wood. He put down the axe around 6:30 a.m., at which point he would devour a full breakfast of grapefruit, pancakes, eggs, and coffee. As he waited for the food to settle, he would head up the hill to his Pennsylvania studio and compose a letter or two. Often, he mailed them right then and there, driving his station wagon to the post office and dropping by on a painting student or two during the return trip.
Then, it was time to get to work. The artist threw on a smock, lit his pipe, and began to paint. Wyeth generally worked fast, sometimes completing an entire painting in just a few hours. If he was stuck, however, he would tape a small piece of cardboard to the side of his glasses to block out the view through his studio’s large north window. If he forgot to remove the cardboard when he paused for lunch at 1 p.m., his family knew the work that day was slow-going.