A Wednesday list of ten things I like.

This is not a top ten list, but rather a totally random list of things I like. listed in alphabetical order of course, and complete with links where possible.

1. Charlottetown Boardwalk. If I had to think of the one thing Charlottetown has done to improve the general well being and happiness of its citizens I would have to say the creation of the Charlottetown Boardwalk. It runs along the waterfront and it is used by people everyday, in all types of weather. It is also quite simply a beautiful place to walk. One of the great things about it is how happy people are when you meet them on the boardwalk. Often the person you pass will smile and say hello, and if it someone you know they will stop and talk. Every town should have a walking path like this.

2. DANIEL SMITH Series 77 Kolinsky Watercolor Brushes. I use many different types of watercolour brushes, and I do like a good quality synthetic brush. But for pure painting pleasure there is nothing as wonderful as picking up a Kolinsky sable brush. They keep a fine point, and you can really load a lot of watercolour on these brushes. They are expensive, and at first they may seem unbelievably so, but the fact is if you take good care of a Kolinsky sable brush it will last for years, possibly decades, maybe a life time, and you will end up saving money in the long run. Why? Because synthetic bristle brushes wear out must faster than a high quality natural bristle brush.

3. French Curves by Staedtler Mars. When I was studying at Holland College in Charlottetown in the early 1980s we still did graphics by hand, and one very useful tool to have was a set of French Curves. I still have a set in my studio, and I still find uses for them. Often I just trace the whole template and incorporate the design into an abstract work.

4. Green Works dish soap. I like this product. I’ve tried a few other dish soaps that are listed as  green, and one thing I find is that many really don’t bubble up or cut grease. The Green Works soap cuts through grease very easily, and has lots of bubbles. I like the unscented version the best.

5. Paper towels. We go through way too many paper towels in our house. I use them in the studio to clean things up, and as blotters for my brushes. We also have two small kids. One spills things, and the other throws plates and bowels of food on the floor when he’s done. We could get a dog to help with the spills but I’m really a cat person.

6. Parsnip french fries. When I was a kid I hated the very existence of parsnips. One great idea for parsnips is to do them up as french fries. Cut them up about the size of carrot sticks, and drizzle some vegetable oil over them, add a tblsp of potato starch and some pepper, and stir until coated. Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning them once. They are delicious.

7. Sheds. I love having a shed. We have a sad, falling-down shed, but without it we would have nowhere to put our extensive collection of junk. One day I will build a new shed, an uber shed, a shed that will be a work space and studio, a shed men dream of and tell tall tales about, and I will probably stuff it full of junk.

8. Shoppers Optimum Card We have two small children, and one is still in diapers. So we have a lot of Optimum points. I will get a new camera for my birthday with these points, and with the rest we will get some photos developed. Anyway it is a great program if you are into collecting points, and everyone goes to a drug store sooner or later.

9. Stevenson oil paint. I’ve tried many kinds of oil paint and one brand that I like is Stevenson oil paint. I’m especially fond of their cobalt blue, and I personally think theirs is the most beautiful cobalt blue you can find. This is a Canadian made, artist quality paint at an affordable price.

10. Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds. The idea of covering the vast floor of the turbine hall at the Tate Modern with sunflowers seeds seems a bit ridiculous at first. Is it a case of contemporary art pulling the wool over the eyes of the general public once again? But when you realize that they are not real sunflower seed, but are in fact hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds, and each is hand-fired and hand-painted by inhabitants of Jingdezhen, the “porcelain capital” of  China, then you have to admit this is an amazing accomplishment. Ai Weiwei is often described as China’s greatest contemporary artist, but the simple truth is he is one of the world’s greatest contemporary artists. Ai Weiwei is an outspoken critic of the Communist regime and on  April 3, 2011, he was arrested by Chinese police as he was boarding a flight to Hong Kong. He has not been seen since and has been charged with “economic crimes.”