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Staying along Dockens Water in the New Forest is a very special activity for me, and one I have done since I was a tot.The moors are magical and vast - re-energising you with their abundance of life, and reminding you that if you are so insignificant in the greater scheme of things, you might as well have the funnest life you can.

I have fond memories of drawing under the trees in the moors, but this is the first time I have stayed here as an artist in love with natural colour and pigments. Iwas a wonderful surprise to come across so many rich iron oxide pigments. 

26 - 30th June 2023

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Scottish Heather

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Colour samples in a book I made on a workshop with Hope Fitzgerald!

Some of the many rocks I picked up in the New Forest, plus their colour swatches.

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Bog Asphodel


The geology of the New Forest consists of a series of flat-lying sedimentary rocks of Palaeogene age (a geologic period that spans 43 million years), that lie elevated in the centre of a sedimentary basin known as the Hampshire Basin – a shallow dip surrounded by the chalk downlands of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. 

Brooks cutting through the land have formed sloping valleys and much of the rolling landscape towards the centre of the Forest. 

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On the surface is a variety of superficial deposits, including poor soils; rich clay; beach sands and marshy bogs. The mixture of well-drained and water-logged ground has allowed for a vast variety in vegetation.


The origin of ‘Dockens Water’ comes from ‘Dark Water’, so named due to the stream’s dark-brown colour. 

This colouring is likely due to the oxidation of iron in iron minerals like siderite, pyrite and glauconite found in the Barton Clay and “Barton Sand”. In fact, nearby, at Red Rise, is an iron spring or chalybeate spring (natural mineral spring containing iron salts). Can’t be a coincidence!

A tributary off Cadnum River - should be called Cadmium River - filled with iron minerals!

Roughly 100m from the entrance of Cadum Common, about 20mins. NE of Dockens Water.

There are lots of 'Commons' in the New Forest, and although I've spent many summers on Streatham and Clapham Common, I have only discovered their origin now. So named for being common land, where farmers can graze their cattle at any time. Watch out Clapham!


Whistler's room is all trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye). Using oil paints and glazes, the design is painted to look 3D on a 2D surface. Even the curtains and tassels are painted!

A trip to Mottisfont National Trust to see the Whistler Room...

The last owners of Mottisfont, Maud and Gilbert Russell, commissioned Rex Whistler to decorate their salon to reflect the buildings origin's as a medieval priory.

Being trained ispecialist decorating, it is always lovely to see historical examples of the finishes I create myself. 

Recommended to me

I am using Bionic Reading - traditionally used by neurodivergent folk, or more specifically people with ADHD, and those with reading difficulties - created by Swiss typographic designer Renato Casutt. It bolds a small number of letters at the beginning of a word allowing your memory to fill in the rest, creating a more visually stimulating font.

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