Artist Jesse Lane, "then" and "now"
Artist Jesse Lane, "then" and "now"

Be inspired by Jesse Lane’s “Then and Now” story of how he overcame his insecurities and went on to build confidence, as well as an impressive body of work.

An Artist’s Greatest Superpower

By Jesse Lane

When I began my art journey, I had very little confidence. As a 15-year-old with dyslexia and dysgraphia, it wasn’t just art I felt I couldn’t do … it was everything.

So I struggled. But as inferior as I felt at times, I always tried to value improvement. Most kids are considered “talented” largely because of natural ability, not from things they learned. However, natural ability doesn’t grow. Growth comes through practice and action. To my surprise, I learned we could all grow, even me.

Jesse Lane, "Lunar Rhythms," Colored Pencil, 39x28", Available at RJD Gallery in Romeo, MI
Jesse Lane, “Lunar Rhythms,” Colored Pencil, 39×28″, Available at RJD Gallery in Romeo, MI

As I got older, I began to see myself as an artist. Still, my fear didn’t disappear. One time I left an art club because we had to paint in front of everyone. I was constantly afraid of taking on the next challenge, so signing up for an AP Art class was incredibly intimidating, but I did it. What kept me going was my more talented friends. They were my heroes, and I was always chasing them. I wanted to be as good as they were, so I kept stepping forward with them, knowing I’d have to work much harder if I was going to keep up.

On the first day of AP Art, I told my teacher I couldn’t do it. He said, “Jesse, from everything I’ve seen you do so far, I believe you can.” He asked me to stick it out until Christmas, and if I wanted to quit after that, I could. I didn’t want to let him down, so I agreed.

I had a rocky start, but I saw myself improving quickly. When Christmas came, I no longer wanted to drop out. In fact, I saw myself as equal to those friends I had admired.

Jesse Lane, "Lullaby," Colored Pencil30x18", Available at RJD Gallery in Romeo, MI
Jesse Lane, “Lullaby,” Colored Pencil, 30×18″, Available at RJD Gallery in Romeo, MI

For so long, I believed I could become an artist only if I was good enough. I felt if my work wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t good enough. I thought I needed something outside myself to complete me.

Looking back, I think we actually have our greatest superpower when we first start out: Our curiosity and willingness to learn. In the beginning, this is hard to realize because we are so focused on what we cannot yet do.

Jesse Lane, "The Promise," Colored Pencil, 30x20” Part of Private Collection
Jesse Lane, “The Promise,” Colored Pencil, 30×20”, Part of Private Collection

I think much of becoming an artist comes from having good character: Being focused, staying curious, learning from mistakes, being open to criticism while simultaneously hanging on tight to something you truly love doing.

We all have our own backstory, while simultaneously looking up at our heroes and wishing we could be more like them. We all have incredible potential that is unique to each of us.

I think our own greatest hero should be our future self.

Jesse Lane, "Lost," Colored Pencil, 19x15"
Jesse Lane, “Lost,” Colored Pencil, 19×15″
Jesse Lane, "Balance," Colored Pencil, 30x20"
Jesse Lane, “Balance,” Colored Pencil, 30×20″
Jesse Lane, "Moonrise," Colored Pencil, 30x20”, Part of Private Collection
Jesse Lane, “Moonrise,” Colored Pencil, 30×20”, Part of Private Collection

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