Jesse Lane has been honing his skills as an artist since he was 15 years old. Now, the 26-year-old specializes in creating lifelike portraits using a nontraditional medium—colored pencil.

Lane, a graduate of The Woodlands High School, has a degree in visualization from Texas A&M University and is able to work full time as an artist. However, growing up, his path was not always clear, he said.

“As a child, I always struggled with everything more than other people seemed to at school,” Lane said. “It was kind of awkward and hard to make friends, and I was always in my own thoughts.”

In fifth grade, Lane was diagnosed with dyslexia, which makes reading more challenging, and dysgraphia, which makes writing more challenging. As he got older, Lane found himself bottling up emotions he felt toward his learning obstacles, so he began conveying those feelings in his art, he said.

“People don’t like to hear about you struggling,” Lane said. “So, I’ve got these emotions that I’m kind of keeping to myself. Finding out I could express that with art, and people respect that and think it’s profound to a certain level, it kind of became something I could channel emotions into.”

After graduating from college, Lane moved back to The Woodlands and has become active in The Woodlands Art League, he said. Additionally, he has won several awards in the last few years, and his art is on exhibit in the New York area at RJD Gallery.

“In terms of getting your art out there, just having the label ‘colored pencil’ can be more difficult,” Lane said. “[Gallery owners] think collectors want an oil painting or something made with another medium.”

Lane participated in an art show at RJD Gallery six months ago, and he sold two pieces. However, after that show, the gallery caught fire, destroying five of his original pieces, he said.

“Losing those five pieces, emotionally, was one of the most challenging things I’ve been through,” Lane said.

Each of Lane’s pieces can take two to six months to finish, he said. His most recent creation, “Face Reality,” is inspired by the fire. The drawing depicts Lane from an overhead view with smoke and ash in the background.

“My work always tries to relate in some way to personal struggle,” Lane said. “I wanted to make something that expressed that emotion,”

Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio, who was a Renaissance painter during the late 1500s, inspires Lane’s work, he said. Most of Caravaggio’s work features dark backgrounds with moody subjects. 

“The ultimate goal is to convey an emotion using the figure or the person I’m drawing,” Lane said.