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About pencils, again

Written by Sherwin, published on June 9, 2010

Couple Walking Arm in Arm with a Child in the Rain, 1890, Van Gogh

It’s been a little over eight months since I wrote about pencils. Something cool that’s happened since my last reflection on pencils is that I have been meeting semi regularly to sketch and study with some other art folks.

Turns out that the root meaning of the word “pencil” takes us back to fourteenth century French: pincel is a fine brush from hair, and pinceau is, roughly, an artist’s brush. But these French words come from the Latin, penicillus, which, you guessed it, shares it’s history with the word, “penis.” Surprise. Turns out that the latin term, penis, means tail, or even, a little tail. 1

In honour of pencils and also in honour of our little art club I’ve posted a few sketches by Vincent van Gogh. I chose these particular sketches because they each use such wonderfully different techniques. 2

  1. Well, I’m not a language expert, and please don’t believe me. I just looked it up here: http://www.etymonline.com/
  2. I also chose these because they’re available online and are in the public domain: http://www.vggallery.com/
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Archived comments

  1. Rusty says:

    Nice sketches, thanks for the inspiration. xo.