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) Arches watercolour paper. Many people who begin painting with watercolours often complain about how difficult and unforgiving the medium can be. What I find is many beginners try to save money by buying cheap materials. The advice I give anyone who wishes to start painting with watercolour is to use good-quality materials, especially to start with artist-quality paper. Most cheap watercolour paper will not forgive reworking or wet washes, and the surface will start to come apart, and the colour will most likely just sit on the surface and you won’t be able to layer delicate washes before the colours start getting muddy.
I’ve tried many different kinds of watercolour paper, and the best for me has been Arches 140lb cold press watercolour paper. This paper will forgive rough use. The surface is consistent, and it is simply a beautiful sheet of paper. The best price I’ve found is to buy it in 25-sheet packs from Danielsmith.com.
2) Christie Chips Ahoy Wafer Stix. I have to admit I eat these things as if I where a death row inmate, and these were my last meal. In other words I don’t want to know if they are bad or good for me. I like them. I keep mine in the fridge because they seem even better cold. I would suggest you not try them – they are that good. In other words if you do try them you too will end up with a stash of them in your fridge.
3) City Parks. My daughter seems to know where most of our local parks are, and she seems to know what types of playground are in each park. As soon as winter breaks we start spending a lot of time in various city parks. I’m not saying that playing in a park will make a child a happy and well rounded person. I’m saying that playing in a park will make a parent a sane and happy person. Winter is long and cabin fever sets in fast. Get out and play!
4) Feeding the birds. All winter long I enjoy watching the birds that come to our bird feeders. I’ve placed the feeders so that we can watch from our living room window. This winter especially I found our feeders were very active, and I noticed when I was outdoors our yard was awash in bird song. One of the most common birds in our yard, and my favourite, is the Chickadee.
5) Honey Bee Tree. When I was a kid I used to love a game called Ker Plunk. The Honey Bee Tree game is an updated version of Ker Plunk. My daughter gave it to my wife for her birthday, and my wife loves it. My daughter loves it too. Apparently my daughter wants to give me a doll for my birthday.
6) Moleskine sketchbooks. One of my many great weaknesses are sketchbooks, and I seem to have many around the house. Most are filled with doodles and rough sketches, and many are filed with grand plans I have no intention of following through on. My all time favourite brand of sketchbook is the Moleskine. They are beautiful to look at, to hold, to work in. If I’m giving a gift to a creative friend, be it an artist or writer, I often give them Moleskine sketchbooks or notebooks.
7) Robert Rauschenberg’s Factum 1 and Factum 2. To prove there was more skill and thought in his creative process than he was given credit for, Rauschenberg created two nearly identical combine paintings. If you look closely you will see he he even recreated the drips in each painting.
8. Staedtler Mars plastic eraser. It may seem odd to have a favourite eraser, but I’m a watercolour painter, and I find this eraser is one of the best when I’m trying to erase a drawing that didn’t work out on an expensive piece of paper. If you use a coloured eraser it most often will leave its colour on the paper which will then show up in your painting. The white plastic of the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser leaves no stains on the paper.
9) The Tate Channel. I seem to get most of my information and entertainment online these days. One great source for for both is the Tate Channel. It provides thought provoking and entertaining videos of artists, and curator interviews. One of my favourite videos is a 14 minute piece about the creation of Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seed installation for the Turbine hall at the Tate modern. sometimes it really does take a village to create something wonderful.
10) Weekend Mornings with Stan Carew. Weekends just aren’t the same without Weekend Mornings with Stan Carew. It is comes on at 6 to 9 on Saturday and 6 to 8:30 on Sunday. Great music, and a great host, and of course Duke the studio stallion. Carew really is a treasure. He is very supportive of local talent, and as a musician he is very generous with his time to many local causes.