Jason Lessans is a whole-brain person. By day, he gives his left brain a workout, crunching numbers and compiling statistics and reports on large data cohorts as a software engineer.
His free time in the evenings and on weekends is devoted to the right brain, with its creative and emotional attributes. Lessans, 30, who grew up at Washington Hebrew Congregation and Temple Beth Ami, lives in Tysons, is an abstract artist and has been selling his paintings, via his Instagram, @lessans_in_abstraction.
Were you artistic as a child?
I was definitely an artistic kid … interested in sculpting and painting for as long as I can remember. My parents even kept the stuff I did when I was in preschool. But I was definitely interested in art and I went to art camps in the summer. I enjoyed sculpting and painting the most, but I explored different mediums throughout the years. In college [at Washington University in St. Louis], I also tried glass blowing, flame work, fused glass and a photography course.
But you didn’t major in art. What did you study?
I’m definitely a math and science guy. I was an electrical engineering and economics double major. Even though I’m more passionate about art, I felt like [painting] was something I could do on the side. I didn’t necessarily see myself making a career out of it. I thought it might lose its appeal, and I didn’t want to feel like art was something I have to do. I do it more for fun.
Would you discuss the dichotomy or the merging of your right and left side brain traits — the creative versus the logical and mathematical? How does it shape your life?
Well, there have been times when I’ve gone without doing art. But I found that when I would go for a long time without [creating something], my thinking would change. My anxiety levels would go up. I was less able to live in the moment and I just noticed a big difference. And it didn’t matter what kind of artistic outlet it was. I do mostly painting, but I also play guitar and drums. I find those [pursuits] are similar in the way that they work the creative side of my brain. It’s really therapeutic.
How much time do you spend on your creative pursuits each week?
I have a guest bedroom that I converted to a studio. It’s covered in paint and supplies. It varies, but there have been times where I was spending most nights of the week, two to three hours a night, painting, so I was probably in the studio somewhere between 10 to 20 hours a week. But it fluctuates a lot.
Tell us about your process using poured acrylic paint.
It’s a little like chemistry: You make a little mixture … and pouring the paint and various oils creates different effects. It’s like a little recipe —and there are different pouring techniques — there’s float fall and I’ve just been exploring one of my favorites, the tree ring pour technique —which looks like tree rings.
What draws you to abstraction over realism?
I have done portraits and some landscape. I guess what I like about abstract art is the fact that there isn’t an objective.
There isn’t necessarily a specific goal that you’re going for. It’s more freeing to just let your subconscious take over and be in the moment. In doing portraits, while I liked the end result, I felt the process wasn’t as relaxing because it’s more about trying to get it perfect. You’re constantly picking apart what you did to get all the textures right.
Do you think you’ll ever leave your day job to create art full time?
Not any time soon. I’m just playing it by ear. If it really kicks off, maybe later on. But I’d have to worry about [art] being my primary income and I think that might take away from the creativity if I have to worry about that.