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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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vegetarian

Forget me not

I’m going to admit something surprising….until the other day I hadn’t touched a paintbrush for the entire month of February. As an illustrator whose whole world revolves around art, I’ve found myself in an odd space these past couple of months. I’ve kept my creative self active, as you know, by sewing and crafts, but since the beginning of the year my artistic side seems to have gone in to hibernation. The other day, fearing I’d somehow magically lost the ability to create art, I had a strong urge to return to my desk and pick up where I left off with my autobiographical piece, and as I got lost in that bubble I enter when I’m painting or drawing, the floodgates opened. I found my heart pouring in to my work, fuelled by music (which I hadn’t listened to this year until that point), and felt just like I used to when I was engrossed in a piece; the piece becomes sort of like a puzzle, like a ‘paint by numbers’ in my head, where my brain works out what colours to mix and where to put them, until bit by bit the picture forms. As I was painting, thinking about a truly adored family member who we lost at the beginning of the year, I realised what I was actually painting: Forget me not’s.

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As some of my followers may know veganism is another huge art of my life (links to recipes at the end!) and last month I was excited to attend the Viva Vegan fair in Cardiff. It seemed even more popular than last year! And it was great to see creativity, as well as compassion, was a big part of the fair. There were stalls with all sorts of creative offerings, with artists, crafters, and even a photographer selling their work. Here are my top 3, take a look at their websites, especially if you’re looking for something ethical as well as unique!

1

‘Wear your voice’ website: link

I’ve mentioned this website before as I love the unique designs that are like wearing a piece of art! What’s more the fabric ink used is environmentally friendly and not tested on animals.

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2

‘The Healing Pear’ Website: Link

When I came across the intricately carved gemstones I was stunned that they’d been hand carved! This talented maker gets her inspiration from: ‘the amazing places I’ve been fortunate enough to call home around the world’

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3

‘BeWilder Nature Photography’ Website: link

I was awe struck when I saw Geraint’s stunning work. From unbelievable macro shots of insects, to birds and landscape scenes, Geraint’s online gallery brings to life the beauty of nature.

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I’ve always been interested in using art and creativity as a springboard to benefit other causes, from using it therapeutically, or in this case to contribute to animal welfare, which is why I jumped at the chance to get involved with Viva’s (link) planned art auction next year. For those who’ve never heard of Viva, they’re an animal charity promoting an ethical lifestyle and have gone from strength to strength over the past 24 years. The website is bursting with useful and interesting content, from health guides and campaign materials, to an ethical shop and recipes. Their ever expanding list of projects also includes ‘Art for Animals’, a way for artists and makers to use their talents to benefit animals. Take a look at the artists here, or if you’re a creative type then why not get involved? I’m already planning the piece I’m going to contribute!

Vegan Recipes (click to open new window)

Chickpea bites

Alternative Easter oatcakes

Healthier sushi

 

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Monthly tutorial: chickpea bites

Every now and then I like to stray from my usual creative tutorial and bring you some vegan inspiration instead. Today we’re making deliciously healthy chickpea bites, which are perfect for a picnic, and can be topped with anything you can image!

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ingredients

  • 120g tinned chickpeas
  • 70g oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp flax seeds
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Dried dill and rosemary

method

Sometimes in vegan cook books and recipes you’ll see something called a ‘flax egg’. This is in place of an egg in the recipe, and is made by mixing crushed flax seeds with water, which creates a quite gelatinous texture, just like an egg. This is the first thing you need to do in this recipe. Crush your flax seeds, add 1 1/2 tbso of warm water and set aside for 15 minutes.

‘Oat flour’ is simply ground oats. You can be a bit creative with your flours if the mood takes you, and can find almost any flour you can imagine in health food stores, and now even most supermarkets, but oat is often the cheapest. Simply take 70g of any oats (rolled, whole etc) and blitz in a food processor.

Next, open your can of chickpeas, drain using a colander or sieve, rinse, then dry on kitchen towel.

Put your chickpeas into your food processor and blitz (you may need to stop every now and then to push them down). You’ll be left with a slightly crumbly consistency that will ‘compact’ when pressed down.

Place your chickpeas, a generous amount of herbs (and a pinch of salt if you like) your oat flour, and flax egg into a bowl and stir through. You want an almost dough-like consistency, which should happen when you begin moulding the ingredients together.

Heat your oven to 160 degrees (fan) and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

Form your dough into small cracker-sized rounds, pat down, and place on your baking tray.

Brush these with a little olive oil, and bake for 5 min, flip, then bake for a further 10 min.

The consistency should be slightly bready.

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Supermarket’s have come on leaps and bounds with their vegan-friendly foods. Most now stock their own versions of vegan cheeses in many exciting new flavours!

 

 

Sea love

This Valentine’s day I’m showing some love for sea life and bringing you the very first instalment of the promised new vegan recipe feature. This recipe for vegan sushi uses basmati/quinoa instead of the traditional white sushi rice, as it’s higher in fibre and nutrients. This recipe is also lower in sugar than ‘traditional’ sushi, and packs in some extra veggies to contribute to your 5 a day.

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ingredients

 

 

 

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♥ Tilda wholegrain basmati & quinoa (dried) or similar

♥ Rice vinegar (own brand is perfectly fine – try Sainsbury’s)

♥ Sushi nori (dried seaweed sheets – brands can be pricey, but Tesco sometimes stock a cheaper version, with more sheets)

♥ A fresh lemon

♥ Seasoning (I used lemon pepper)

♥ Vegetables of your choice (I used aubergine, broccoli and mushrooms)

♥ Fresh root ginger

♥ Optional extras: sesame seeds, spirulina powder

method

 

 

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Cook your rice/grains as instructed on the packet and drain off any excess water using a sieve. Put in a large bowl.

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Now to add the flavour! Sprinkle in any seasoning you like – I opted for lemon, lemon pepper, and ginger (grate in as much or as little as you like). Add a generous tsp of rice vinegar (this will help add moisture to stick the rice together/to the seaweed later)

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This step is optional, but I’d recommend including it! Lightly toast sesame seeds under the grill (no need to use extra oil) and add this to your bowl of seasoned rice. Sesame seeds are usually used on the outside of sushi, but I find they add a nice texture and flavour when mixed in. I also added spirulina for an extra protein hit (but be warned, you only need tiby amounts as it has a very distinct earthy taste!) Spirulina can be expensive in health food shops, so keep an eye out at food markets where you can sometimes be lucky to pick up unusual ingredients for a fraction of the price.

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Now to prep the veg – grill sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced aubergine, and cook your broccoli (using frozen is fine, or steam fresh florets, but make sure it is thoroughly drained by dabbing with kitchen towel) You’ll need to turn your mushrooms/aubergine half way through to get both sides cooked evenly. NB: with such thinly sliced aubergine the ends can slightly burn – don’t panic! pull/cut these bits off. You can use any veg you like, including strips of courgette or even butternut squash.

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Chop the heads of your broccoli so they almost resemble small grains. To save time you can use a mini food processor, I used a mezzaluna, but a sharp small knife will do just fine. Add to the rice mix and stir well.

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You now need to apply a thin, even layer of your rice mixture on to a sheet of your dried seaweed. Press lightly with a spoon.

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Arrange your vegetables – in this case the slices of aubergine and the mushrooms.

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Take another sheet of dried seaweed and press it gently over the rice/vegetables. You’ll need to make sure it’s in contact with the rice mix otherwise it won’t soften. Once you’ve made sure it’s pressed down well, leave for 5 mins. This should be enough time to allow it to soften.

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Time to roll! Start at the edge closest to you and aim for quite ‘tight’, pressing as you go along.

cuttingcollageYou’ll need a sharp knife to cut your sushi roll otherwise it’ll fall apart! I used a sharp breadknife (you’ll also notice I’ve ‘tucked in’ the ends – this is to stop any escaping rice!) Start by cutting your roll in half, then divide up into smaller sections.

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All that’s left to do is make your sushi look extra appetising by arranging it nicely on your plate. You can add any extras, such as soy sauce and wasabi.

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A confession…

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I have a confession…one that may surprise those who have never met me…I struggle to eat. What most people would find appealing, and indeed class as ‘every day’ foods; noodles, toasties, curry, spaghetti, you name it, I probably don’t eat it. But in the interest of my health, which determines how much energy I have to work on what I love – art & design – I’m embarking on a quest (yes, this challenge feels so monumental that I feel justified in labelling it in such a way!) to challenge the compulsion that finds me reaching for the exact same foods every day.

I’m inviting you, my readers, to follow me on my journey to discover and create nourishing vegan recipes to support both body and mind. Veganism and vegetarianism has always been an influencing factor in my life, fuelling my interest in creating eco-friendly clothing, and using our natural world as inspiration for a great deal of my artwork. In next month’s ‘tutorial’ spot, I’ll be bringing you the first recipe instalment – vegan sushi. In the mean-time, here’s a list of some inspiring and useful vegan-related sites:

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Vegan Huggs – A blog packed with recipes, reviews, and more!

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Wear Your Voice – A website I’ve mentioned before where a passion for art meets a passion for animals, with truly unique illustrations printed on to t-shirts.

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Vegan Supermarket Finds UK – A super useful facebook group run by vegans, for vegans, where you can share your surprising vegan finds, as well as get some great tips on where to find all manner of vegan goodies!

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In the interest of keeping myself distracted whilst re-building my strength, I’ve been revisiting a seascape I began last year, yet lost the motivation for. Well the itch is back! and I’ve been compelled to dip in here and there. The tones of blue in the sea are proving to be a source of intrigue, as they’re not as straight-forward as they may seem; in order to achieve one elusive tone, I found myself cautiously mixing phtalo blue, cobalt, a tiny dot of ivory black, and an atom of yellow ochre, before deciding to substitute the black for burnt umber.

The relationship between colours and how they combine fascinates me! Explaining to those who don’t practise art that a blue can contain  brown, black, and even ochre, feels as though I’m revealing some clandestine key.

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Whilst my home studio is a base for all my inspiration and tools – my pattern folder, old art/craft magazines, art postcards etc, over the years I’ve grown fond of inhabiting a quiet corner of a library – a haven from home. This week I’ve been squirrelling away in the reference section (often good for exquisitely illustrated nature books) trying out Derwent Inktense pencils and making notes for next month’s review.

Costing £29.99 in the Range (£40.75 on Derwent’s website) for a tin of 24, it;s understandable you’d want to ‘try before you buy’, which is where I’ve done the work for you! Look out for the full review next month, which as always will be straight to the point and up-front.

 

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Finally, I want to tell you about the Winter Exhibition at Y Galeri Caerffili, which is displaying a whole range of styles and mediums, and at which my piece ‘One For Sorrow’ is currently on show. The exhibition will run all this month and directions can be found on their facebook page: Y Galeri Caerffili facebook. If you can’t make it in person, you’ll find some images of the artwork on display on their page and on the website.

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‘One For Sorrow’, graphite & oils, Hanna-Mae Williams

 

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