Friday, July 1, 2011

Zest-It! You're Going To Love This!

For all of you that love the look of blended Colored Pencils - Prismacolor or Derwent Colorsoft, or Faber-Castell Polychromos, or any of the other quality brands... For all of you that love it when your colored pencil looks like paint... And for all of you that have hands that ache when you are finished blending with the blending pencil...  Well, I've got great news for you!



I had read some about using solvents with colored pencils.  But my experimenting with the Prismacolor colorless blending marker yielded less than satisfying results.   And the other solvents I had read about have toxic levels that I prefer not to bring into my world.  One site said to use them with an open window.  Well, the seasonal opportunities for that where I live are very very small.  And then I found Zest-It products.  They have several products under this name including brush cleaners and oil paint mediums.  But the one I am so excited about is the colored pencil blending medium.  It is non toxic!  Well, they suggest you not drink it.  Oh.  Well, it does have a refreshing orange aroma.  But I don't think I'll be too tempted to drink it.  The other solvents I have looked at leave a residue on your drawing creating a non archival piece.  But according to the Zest-It representative, the Zest-It evaporates leaving nothing on your paper except colored pencil.  How great is that?!
Blended with a paper blending stump.



I was very pleased with the results I got when using the Zest-It and found it to be much quicker than the slow tedious process of blending with the pencil blenders.  And the icing on the cake was that my hand didn't even ache when I was through.


blended with the tortillion

I have posted my testing pieces here.  I used Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils for this experiement.  I first blended with a paper blending stump that I had touched into just a dab of the Zest-It.  It took very little for the whole project. I was pleased with the results with the blending stump.  It was smooth and filled the space well.  Then I tried it with a paper tortillion.  Although the results were not bad, it was not quite as smooth as the blending stump and it was more laborious to accomplish the blending.  Last I tried using a paint brush to dip into the Zest-It.  I expected this to be my favorite as I love using brushes with the Derwent Inktense pencils.  I love getting the color wet and then pulling it to create the effect I want with the brush.  However, I found that the color did not pull using the Zest-It with the paint brush.  It did seem to affect the overall color but did not create the smooth painted look that I prefer.  So I will stick with the blending stump, which is just fine with me.  I was quite pleased with it.  I have read the some artists like to use a Q Tip to blend it.  I think that would probably work well for large areas.  But it would not give as much control as the pointed tip of the blending stump in areas with more detail.

blended with the paint brush

I also piddled with the Zest-It with soft pastels and oil pencils and found it to work quite well with them too.

Zest-It is something I will definitely be sharing with my students.  They will love how it helps them advance more quickly in their colored pencil skills.

The only draw back for the Zest-It is that it is a company based in the United Kingdom and they do not, as of yet, have a distributor in the US.   (****See amended note below.  It is available in the US now)  The shipping I paid was a bit high.  But I ordered enough to last quite a while and decided that in the long run, it was still a good buy even after the shipping.  It took 2 weeks to get my package of Zest-It from England to Oklahoma.  Perhaps if there is enough interest shown in the US by colored pencil artists, they will establish a distributor over here.  That would be great!   Let me know if you try it or have any experience with it.  I'd love to see what you've done.

Want to learn more about drawing and creating your own pencil art?  Try out my online pencil art learning community at Wind and Honey Classes.  We are having a great time there and my students are progressing so well.   

****Note added 12-5-12   Zest-It is now available in the US.  You can see more about that in my post here.  Also I now have workshops at Wind and Honey Classes that demonstrate and teach the use of Zest-It.  Check it out.  There is usually at least one workshop current that utilizes this helpful tool.


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