Friday, February 27, 2009

Self Induced Spring- Day 12

I didn't expect it to happen so fast... but it's growing!

With all the bits of green sprouting up at an alarming rate, I've been inspired to read my gardening books... I figure if spring isn't happening outside... I'll do my best to make it happen inside.

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I came across a great idea, and thought I'd share... edible center pieces! Delicious!

The part that really got my attention was that there is a savory and a sweet version.

Great for lunches or dinners, your meals will be fresh, fun and interactive... include a small pair of scissors with each place setting, so guests can snip and sample...

The Savory Bowl

Globe Basil, Chives, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.

The Sweet Bowl

Mint, Stevia, Vanilla Grass, and Violas.

Just plant your seedlings (with room) in a terri-cotta bowl, and watch them grow!
Between meals you can enjoy them on your sunny patio or deck, and water them when the soil feels dry. The part that I like best, is that the trimming you do at meal time, actually encourages them to grow even bushier!

Spring Blossoms

This is not my usual pallet, but I have been so ready for spring for so many weeks now, that these soft, fresh colours have managed to dance their way into the studio.

In Japan there is a celebration called Hanami, it is the practice of viewing flowers.

I think the world needs more events like this.

People gather for feasts and sake beneath the sweet scent of the cherry tree in full bloom. There are strolls amongst the laden branches, and it is considered a time to reflect and meditate on rebirth and renewal.

The flowers were seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral.

This piece is just wrapping up, and will be ready to make it's debut at The Portobello West Market on the last weekend in March.

Hope to see you (and Spring) there!
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day Dreams & Fairy Tails.

For Christmas, my honorary Mom (Fran) gave me a sketch book... she knows just what I like. I've always been a doodler, it's like moving meditation for me. It helps me to sit in peace with the core of myself.

It is green with black and gold speckles, so you have to watch where you put it down. If your not careful it will disappear right under your nose. This will be especially true once the snow melts-AGAIN.

In this book of empty pages I decided to find my roots, and draw each day for fun, not just for work (if you can call it that). Just whatever moves me, no expectations, no limitations, just good old creative play.

This is what moved me on the dawn of the new year, and today evoked a similar muse... must be the snow falling...

Happy Birthday Fran! I hope it's magical. xo

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rainbow Fry

Rainbow Fry
Oil on Canvas
by Melissa March

Rainbow Trout

As a species, the Rainbow Trout is yellow-listed, which means that it is not at risk in British Columbia. However, many populations have suffered declines and even extinction as a result of habitat damage or over fishing. Maintenance of natural genetic diversity and the many life-history forms is a conservation concern.


• It is important to obey angling regulations and habitat protection bylaws, guidelines and regulations, since they were designed to protect the fish and their habitat. You should also Observe, Record and Report violations of the regulations by phoning 1-800-663-9453.

• Rainbow Trout are highly vulnerable to human activities, which alter stream flow, increase sedimentation, reduce cover or raise water temperature. If you own property bordering a stream or lake, try to protect or plant trees and shrubs beside the water to provide food and shade, and prevent the banks from eroding.

• Form a group of water stewards and volunteer to monitor local water quality or restore natural streamside vegetation.

• Be aware that what you dump into your septic tank or roadside storm drain may find its way into streams or lakes. Help keep water quality high by using detergents and soaps that are chlorine and phosphate free, and do not dump harsh chemicals, such as bleach, paint thinner or antifreeze, into drains.

For more info see:
Ministry of Fisheries

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beaver Lodge Forest

This is a photo I took of the forest at the end of my street. It is one of my New Years Resolutions to walk there twice a week.

Even though sometimes I have a hard time getting to it, I am always glad to be there once I take one deep breath of the earthy, fresh air.

The Beaver Lodge Forest Lands is 1028 acres of forest located within the Campbell River City Limits. The land was a gift to the City in 1931 by The Elk River Timber Company. They have been a valued natural playground for wildlife and residence alike ever since.

In 1993, The Beaver Lodge Forest Lands became BC’s first experimental forest to be protected under provincial legislation.

It is beautiful at all times of the year, and last fall, I was inspired to paint a slice of this inspiring space...

Beaver Lodge Forest
Oil on Canvas
by Melissa March

The destruction and loss of natural habitats that support plant and animal life is a major threat to the health and diversity of our planet.

Protecting natural areas is one way we can preserve biodiversity and help to maintain some of the natural processes that will ensure we continue to have clean air and water, for many generations to come.

A mere 7% of Canada’s vast countryside is safeguarded against threats to its ecological integrity. Globally, Canada ranks only 61st in terms of the percentage of protected lands!

For more info see:
Nature Canada

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring in a box

Last Tuesday my friend came by with a little surprise to pull us out of the doldrums of winter. It came in the form of 5 little envelopes of potential, a table top "green house" and a bag of dirt.

There is nothing quite like a little soil under your nails, to remind you that spring is just around the corner.

By saturday morning, I had a garden!!

Here is a peak at day 6.

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So fun!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Sail

New Sail
Oil on Canvas
Melissa March

For some years my Mom lived on a sail boat. A beautiful wooden explorer boat, designed especially for the West Coast.

It's pretty neat having your home with you where ever you go, but that luxury comes at the cost of some of the niceties most of us are used to.

It's volunteer simplicity at its best. Putting you immediately in sync with the seasons, and all that nature throws your way.

Spending time on the sea, gave me a new respect and appreciation for the immense power of the wind.

The wind really is always blowing, being harnessed and used wisely all over the world. Canada is no exception, as we move toward leaving a smaller eco footprint, wind power is becoming more widespread and accessible to everyone.


The burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is, there are alternatives.

The use of Wind generated power is on the rise, and for good reason. There are many benefits to using this renewable resource.


The Environment
•Wind energy preserves water resources.
•Wind energy does not produce any harmful waterborne emissions, or
toxic solid wastes.
•Wind energy is completely renewable, highly reliable and very efficient.
•Wind energy offsets the emissions of other energy sources, thus reducing our contribution to global climate change.

The Community
•Wind energy is compatible with other land uses and can serve as a boost for rural economic development.
•Wind energy is good for employment and job creation: it is estimated that the Canadian wind industry employed 3,785 people in 2006.
•Wind energy supports economic growth: in 2006 the wind industry contributed $1.6 billion to Canada Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
•Wind energy generates tourism for local communities.
•Wind energy creates alternative revenues for farmers who lease their land.

The Consumer
•Wind energy is one of the most economical sources of new large-scale electricity generation.
•Wind energy is becoming even more economic to produce as economies of scale are reached and as electricity prices increase.

I get really excited about the progress we are making as we choose new ways to move forward. Wind generated power is only one great example. If you are interested in learning more, please see what the experts have to say:

Canada Wind Energy Association

When you are on their site, look for info on "small wind" to see if it might be a good edition to your home or business.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not Quite A Beginning Place

Not Quite a Beginning Place
Oil on Canvas
by Melissa March

This painting is wrought with meaning for me. It is the place my ancestors first stepped foot upon Canadian soil. This is a view of the vast water they crossed to get here, and symbolizes hardship, triumph, and a hardy tenacious spirit that seems to have lived down through many generations.

It also reflects a simpler time, when we were more apt to live in relative communion with our surroundings. It is a portrait of the beauty found in the day to day, and the ways we adapt and harness the wildness that swirls all around us.

I will touch on the topic of wind power in another post, but today I would like to leave you with a touch tone to the past, and perhaps also the future...

Home Made Laundry Soap

1 cup Vinegar (white)

1 cup Baking Soda

1 cup Washing Soda

1/4 cup liquid castile soap

* Mix well and store in sealed container.

* I find it easiest to pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stir in the washing soda, then the baking soda, then add the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure
 the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding).

This soap makes the laundry feel like it is fresh off the line. It's easy, it's economical, it is good for the environment, and great for anyone who has sensitive skin.

Happy Washing!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout. Beautiful. They are what I most often catch. I was surprised to find that they can look quite different from one another, depending on what river they live in, even if they are from the same strain.

Here is a collage of a custom piece, done from photos. The pictures were taken in a magical place, that will remain undisclosed...

Cutthroat Trout
Oil on Canvas by Melissa March

Cutthroat Trout

The coastal cutthroat is a blue-listed species, which means the species is considered vulnerable in British Columbia.
Several populations, particularly those on the East Coast of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, are in serious decline, and many runs are already extinct. Their dependence on small streams for
spawning and rearing makes them especially vulnerable, as small streams are easily altered or destroyed and their protection is often overlooked in planning residential, agricultural, and industrial developments or during forest harvesting


• Since cutthroat trout are very susceptible to over-fishing, using a barbless hook and practicing catch
and release are recommended.

• It is important to obey angling regulations and habitat protection bylaws, guidelines and regulations, since they were designed to protect the fish and their habitat. You should also Observe, Record and Report violations of the regulations by phoning 1-800-663-9453.

• Cutthroat trout are highly vulnerable to urban development and agricultural practices that remove the vegetation that creates streamside shade, captures excess nutrients from fertilizers and manure, and prevents erosion.

• Form a group of water stewards and volunteer to monitor local water quality and other habitat changes in lakes or streams.

• Be aware that what you dump into your septic tank or roadside storm drain may find its way into streams or lakes. Help keep water quality high by using detergents and soaps which are phosphate and chlorine free, and do not dump harsh chemicals, such as bleach, paint thinners or antifreeze, into drains.

For more info see:
Ministry of Fisheries

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Like a Rock

I always look for them, the love notes from Mother Earth, and every once in a while, I notice one has been left for me.

The sun was showing it's face, and we had made it to the river to welcome the winds of spring. The warmth had been a long time coming, and it's gentle caress reminded me that life was stirring in all the quite corners of my heart.

There were prints that led us there, across the snow, crisp and blue in the shadows. They came from all directions... The wolves must have a meeting place. I had visions of them revealing themselves under the cast of violet twilight, but their story left me at the rivers edge with out a trace.

I wondered and wandered and kept hunting for a clue... and then it happened.

As I crouched to survey the rippling skin of the river, my eye's fell upon it. There was no question what it was - it was etched in stone.

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I hope this finds you celebrating love in all the ways that suit you best.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Brown Trout

Brown Trout
Oil on Canvas by Melissa March

The play of light, the hidden life, the grace, and the fascinating inclusions of colour, are just a few things that make fish one of my favorite subjects. Their beauty is really something to behold.

There are only a few places on Vancouver Island that these creatures dwell, and I have never caught one.... which might be why I like to paint them so much. Painting them allows me to inspect them closely, and marvel at their arresting magnificence. It's a way to stroke their glimmering flesh, and dive deep into the vivid, speckled patterns, laid with precision across each scale.

I am in awe of them.

Brown Trout are a species that were introduced to Canadian waters around the turn of the century.

They are incompatible with native species such as Cutthroat Trout and Gila Trout. The protection of native species requires segregation of them from Brown Trout.


Alien species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity, after habitat loss and degradation. When alien species move in, native species' populations often decrease in parts of their natural range. In the worst-case scenario, the native species become extinct. The number of plant and animal species may remain the same in an area, as common or widespread species replace unique, local species, but the integrity and vitality of natural ecosystems is damaged.

Alien species affect native species through: competition for limited resources including space, light, moisture, food, breeding sites and pollinators; predation.

For more info see:
Ministry of Fisheries

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Up Close & Personal

This might be a bit premature, but I'm really excited, and wanted to give you time to mark your calendar!

Come and Meet the Makers, and see their creations with your very own eyes!

Artists and Designers unite at this great event. A special 2 day Market will be held to celebrate the kick off of the Portobello West season. Held on the last weekend of March, this will be the only Market before the Easter weekend. I think it's a pretty safe bet that there will be some great basket stuffers to be found.

I don't make it to the city nearly as often as I'd like, so I will be trying to maximize my visit, and hope to see you all there!

I have my fingers crossed that the cherry trees will be in bloom, I'd really like to see them too!

PS. A few pieces I have been working on will be making their debut this weekend!


Saturday and Sunday
March 28th & 29th, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow

A friend of mine shared this with me, and I was so inspired I had to pass it on. It is not only a genius idea, but an aesthetically pleasing one too! Perhaps my favorite combination.

I can't wait to have a space to build one of my own!

happy planting!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Amu Designs endeavors to make the best choices possible, to ensure both personal health, and the health of our planet, right down to the colours we choose.

Certain pigments (even with the expanded knowledge base of the information age) still contain toxic substances and heavy metals.

The trick is to read the labels, even trusted brands make products with surprising ingredients.

When considering what paints to buy, there are certain things to look for. Purchasing products which have one of the logos of the ACMI is a good place to start. ACMI is the Art & Creative Materials Institute, a Non-Profit Organization which evaluates and certifies art and creative materials as non-toxic, that also meet the voluntary standards of quality and performance.

Some other key words to watch for and avoid are:
Lead (yes-they still use it!)
zinc sulfide

If you don't see one of the ACMI logos, you can find out more about the pigments used by investigating the colour index number or pigment code listed on your paint. It will appear as a pair of letters followed by a number ie: PO49

You can find more information on pigment index numbers at

Note: Paints with the word "hue" at the end of their name are actually substitutes for the original, and are usually non-toxic. For instance, Cadmium Yellow Hue contains no actual Cadmium Yellow, but is usually a blend of the non-toxic Arylide Yellow G and Arylide Yellow 10G.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

things that make you go hmmm

Have you ever been so surprised to learn something, that you began to question other (completely unrelated) things in your life?

I encountered this very phenomenon in the early hours of last week, and thought this gem of information might be of interest to you, perhaps even alter your view of the world.

Fact: Female Kangaroos have 3 Vaginas.

It may not be crystal clear in the diagram, and granted one of them is considered a "pseudo" vagina, but still-remarkable, no?

the work of dreaming

Since my inauguration into the world of fly fishing, I have come to understand, there is a common dream... a goal shared by young and old alike. It seems there is a mecca for anglers.

Chile. Home of the elusive Brown. (among others)

It's not at all difficult to understand the appeal. It has all the components a great adventure should, an alluring destination, a quest of the heart, the promise of triumph, and just a hint of prestige... I will confess I hope to share in this dream, and make the journey someday (hopefully in the company of my favorite angler, He's been busy dreaming big and showing me the way).

For me, the journey is a way off, so in the mean time I've been busy painting the picture, and engineering a clear vision. I like to think of dreaming as important work in it's own right... I like to call it manifesting.

Here's a glimpse of a journey I've been on, over the past few weeks, as I build my foundation for the pilgrimage that awaits.

Stay tuned for a look at the finished Piece!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

in pursuit of green

As things grow at Amu Designs, so does our ability to make a notable impact.

All of our archival prints, (on paper) including all 8x10 images, will now be mounted on Biodegradable Foamboard.

By choosing to do all of our mounting in house, we are able to offer you an even more environmentally friendly product for the same affordable price! It means a little more elbow grease, but we are happy to do it, strong arms are a good thing (and so is fresh air)!

We can probably all use a bit more sleep, and I am hoping we can all rest a little easier knowing that beauty is possible without compromising our bank account, a beautiful aesthetic, or our future.

Enjoy your Art!

  • It is a paper-faced memory foamboard with a BIODEGRADABLE rigid foam center
  • It is faced with acid free paper liners formulated from wood products certified by the Sustainable Forest Institute (SFI)
  • It is formulated with no less than 15% recycled content
  • With the exception of it's BIODEGRADABLE properties, it performs the same as regular foamboard
  • Foamboard will not break down until it is discarded
  • BIODEGRADABLE foamboard breaks down in landfills or composting environments in 1-5 years

It's degrading (in a good way)

We have new packaging! Shiny, Clear, Beautiful, Bags!

They are made from eco-friendly plant based products. They are biodegradable AND compostable, as well as certified by the BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute)!

How it Happens...
  1. Corn is grown and harvested
  2. Corn is cooked for many, many hours
  3. Corn is ground, and the starch extracted
  4. Corn is fermented, creating lactic monomers
  5. Lactide molecules are linked into polyactide polymer
  6. Resulting in natural "plastic" pellets
  7. Pellets are converted into a film
  8. Film is converted into packaging products!
*Because the bags contain Lactic acid, they are not intended for the long term storage of your art work*

You can find more info on Display Conditions, Care Instructions, Handling, and Limited Warranty on the back of your Certificate of Authenticity.