You may be familiar with artist Jen Dixon‘s big, bold abstract paintings. In contrast to these, her pen and ink drawings are more controlled and full of serene, hard lines. She has recently finished a series of drawings she calls “Waterwebs” – inspired by the stones on her local beach, that are available in her web store. The drawings are made using a combination of dip pens and felt tip pens on Bristol board.
Jen is a fan of Zest-it for her oil painting, as you will read, and in this article she tells us what happened when she tried Zest-it Pen Nib Cleaner for her drawing tools.
“Less time cleaning up, more time creating. How can that be a bad thing?”
Jen Dixon reviews Zest it Pen Nib Cleaner
I’m going to come out and say it from the start: I’m a big fan of Zest-it.
If you’re not familiar with Zest-it, let me give you some reasons to try it: It’s non-toxic and not an eye or skin irritant. It’s safe to breathe (which is wonderful if you’ve got asthma or work in an enclosed space). It’s pH neutral, has no CFCs or other environmentally nasty things that are best avoided. It can replace your reliance on turps and white spirit. Oh, and the original formula Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner smells like oranges, so that’s nice.
How does the nib cleaner stack up? Great. Really great. I let a handful of nibs get dirty and dry, using a variety of inks (India, calligraphy, writing) to put the pot to the test. In the past, I cleaned nibs by soaking them in soapy water, scrub with a toothbrush, and repeated until useable. I have been known to scrape off stubborn ink with my fingernails. It was a time-consuming and flawed process.
Zest-it say to push the nibs into their sponge pot, leave them 10 – 20 minutes, then rinse and dry. Even with my enthusiastic faith in the brand, I thought it couldn’t be that easy. I was wrong.
I checked the nibs at 10 minutes. Wet ink was bleeding into the sponge and the nibs looked promising. I left them for a full 20 minutes, removed one at a time, rinsed, then rubbed them gently with a cotton bud. That’s it. They absolutely sparkle. The nib that was most likely to fail the test was caked in two week old coloured inks but it shines now. (There is a tiny spot of ink I missed with the cotton bud before shooting the photo, but that was my fault, not the Zest-it. I’ll pop it back into the sponge and I know it’ll wipe right off after a couple of minutes soaking.)
If you use dip pens in your work, you need this. Let the Zest-it do the work while you go have a cup of tea or check your email. By the time you come back, your nibs will be ready to dirty up all over again. Less time cleaning up, more time creating. How can that be a bad thing?
Internationally-selling artist, Jen Dixon works mostly in mixed media abstract and figurative painting. She is also an illustrator, writer, and teaches life drawing. Originally from Indiana, she is an American and British citizen, living on the North Cornwall coast of the UK.