AI: Paper Tastes Better With Lemon On It

My dad was a neat guy. When my brother and I were but wee lads in the wilds of New Jersey, my dad would play all sorts of pranks on us.

One time, he hid in our closet before we went to bed. We always kept the closet light on with the door cracked; kept the monsters at bay. After a time the light began to flicker, on off on….off. We got a bit scared. But not nearly as scared as when the closet door flung open and shit started flying out of it! Blankets, clothes, boxes! As you can imagine we were screaming and screaming our tiny heads off. And then it stopped. The light came back on and we heard that familiar chuckle coming from the closet. Good one dad.

Things like this happened fairly often.

When he wasn’t trying to give us heart attacks, dad would leave treasure maps for us. But there was a twist. They would be made using lemon juice on paper. You cannot see lemon juice on paper. We would have to hold the paper over the stove-top flame in order to burn the image in.

Kitty's Treasure
YOU try drawing with lemon juice and see how well it turns out!

I don’t remember where they led or what the surprises were, but the maps made a strong impression on me. Making weird maps, encouraging me to illustrate the first few pages of The Hobbit, getting us chemistry sets, magic kits, microscopes and a telescope; this was like craft time growing up in our house. And I didn’t realize it until fairly recently.

What weirdness did you have growing up that, only as an adult, you realized put you on your science-y, skeptic-y, artsy, geeky path?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In his spare time he makes videos of Spirograph drawings and complains about doing laundry. Website: Twitter: @brianggeorge Insta: @brianggeorge If you're into what I'm doing, feel free to throw down a bit in my tipjar here: @brianggeorge

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  1. I once asked my grandmother, who was a physics teacher, whether she believed in life after death. She replied “no, no, I’m a scientist. I believe that after death we live on only in people’s memories. But if, when I die, there turns out to be something else… I will find it fascinating!”

  2. Science = My parents never gave me a faux explanation when I asked how something worked. They would just tell me the real natural phenomenon. Oh! Also we moved to London when I was born and my mother had no friends there, so she would take me to the Natural history museum / Science Museum / London Zoo every day.

    Art = Who knows, I was terrible at art as a child. We use to joke the one thing I would never be was an artist. But I kept choosing art as an optional subject as school because I didn’t consider it work and then all of a sudden at age 13 I could draw!I think it was just persistance. I always try an tell people that anyone can draw and that its 85% practice.

  3. I can’t answer the question because I have melted into a puddle of joy at the awesomenss of your Dad. 🙂

  4. My dad was a skeptic through and through when I was younger, now in recent years, his developed a bit of a soft spot for alternative medicine, which is a great shame for such an intelligent man.

    I was always ‘artsy’, much more so than sciency or skepticy. Those developed later. And I have my husband, Stuart, to thank for that. He is the most rational-minded person I have ever known, and has degrees in Physics and Mathematics. With him I lost the fairy tales, but science turned out to be much more beautiful.

    As for my dad, we’re working on it …

  5. As best as anyone can tell I was just born that way, and my parents let me go with it. My earliest memories are analyzing natural phenomena and coming up with explanations for them. I was laying out large, symmetrical, and highly complex patterns out of blocks before I could talk. I much preferred reading science books to watching TV. When I was little, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I told them I wanted to be an “inventor”. Where most kids wanted to be astronauts, I wanted to design spaceships. When I got my PhD a few months back, my parents have said they were expecting it practically since I can talk. So I think the only weirdness in my childhood was me.

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