Afraid You Can’t Satisfy the Longing?

FirstPortraitWhat is it that you long to do? For me it was drawing & painting faces.  If you are familiar with the art I’ve done over the last decade, you’ll see the face and figure present in almost every piece. I have relied heavily (ok, totally!) on photographs to convey and represent my love of the female face.

I can draw faces. I even have the work to show for it. This portrait was done back in the 80s when I took an evening class. Having a few more children got in the way of me doing anymore portraits outside of class. It just takes me so darn LONG. This was the only one ever did.

It has been so long that I was afraid I couldn’t do it anymore. Or was it that I didn’t want to take the TIME to do it? Was time the excuse for not doing it, or was it fear I would never be good enough to satisfy my longing. I didn’t just want to draw/paint faces, I wanted to draw/paint beautiful faces.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to satisfy my longing.

You know how crazy that is. Logically, you and I both know that to get good at something you have to WORK.AT.IT. I know that if I try, if I put in the time, I can create faces that embody my desires and intentions. But the desire to create, to take pencil or brush in hand, is not controlled by logic, is it?

Driven by desire I signed up for Judy Wise’s Painting Faces class. Desire won out. Desire conquered time. Desire walked over fear.

Three weeks into the daily class I finally started painting. Time is still an issue, but last week I found/made space at the end of my day to paint. I had to, the longing was unbearable.

And guess what? I’ve done two paintings. Not finished, gallery worthy paintings. I am not aiming for that. What I’m doing is LEARNING how to paint faces.And as I learn, I am finally satisfying my longing. And I must say, it feels so very, very good.

How will you satisfy your longing? Is fear involved for you too?

It’s important to remember that the longing will always be there.
It doesn’t end. It’s not an empty hole we need to fill, but a magnetized
inner space that draws experience and life to us, and us to it.
(Women’s Power Wheel)

Lesley Riley painting

My first painted face. She looks as scared as I was. Rather than futz around with the background, I cut her out and draped her in something familiar – fabric. Just need to glue her into my journal.


Lesley Riley painting

A work in progress. Painting over al collaged background to add texture and color under the painting. I’m still refining and need to finish her mouth and nose. I like the loose look of her mouth but need to go back in some more. I’m waiting because I don’t want to lose the look. I think #2 appears more relaxed than #1, don’t you?


  1. Lesley, I have felt the same way. I did mostly portraits in my younger years, but when I started my career in remodeling design my only art was doing renderings of the proposed projects for my clients. After I retired, my son was getting married and I wanted to paint their portrait as a wedding gift.

    I literally hadn’t done it for about 35 years, so I was really afraid I’d bitten off more than I could chew but I went ahead anyway. Turns out it was even better than the ones I did when I was younger and doing lots of commissions. I guess all those years of doing renderings helped my art in ways I wasn’t aware of. I have done several now and I’m really pleased with the way they are going, so keep at it.

    I love your second face and especially the expression you captured. The textured look of it is wonderful and I am hoping to get better at a more painterly look like that so it is inspiring me. I haven’t had the funds to take a lot of workshops, but I have found that you can get an excellent art education just by watching Youtube. I have learned so much more there than I have with workshops I’ve taken. Keep up the good work and the good words as well.

  2. Madeline Sosnowski says:

    Lesley .Congratulations on your anniversary… To be happily married for so long takes creativitydevotion and hard consistent practice and work. I know from experience, as we will be celebrating our fifty sixth this summer.. I consider this to be my greatest work of art.. The days I don’t get to do my other creative work I remind myself that I can not give the time needed to do all of my creative dreams and feel blessed when I can.. Meanwhile I feel so excited when I can and realize just like riding a bike we do not forget how to do what we love.


  3. Love the second painting! It reminds me of Frida Khalo.

    I have one more day to go on my 42 days of art challenge. Where do we send the photo of our completed star chart?


  4. Good for you! They are quite good already. This week in my blog I shared about my “failure” with a new piece and what I learned from it. People are sharing their experience with that with me. You are right- we think we are the only ones, but every artist grapples with this stuff.

  5. Helen Hall says:

    You wrote about this crazy longing I have been feeling for years. I have continued to rationalize it, no trivialize it as I am surrounded by hard-working nine-to-fivers who see these pursuits as trivial. I enjoyed Pam Carriker’s Still Pursuing Portraits workshop but didn’t follow her advice to practice drawing daily. Yet this constant nagging and tugging at my psyche persists. Thanks for not diminishing this yearning to do more and be more.

    • Hi Helen. When the longing persists, you have to satisfy it. The best part is, you can come back to it again and again. After all we don’t eat dessert EVERY day, do we? lol

  6. I’m struggling with the face painting. It’s due to using the acrylic more than anything else. But since I had too many things going at once I let it slide a bit as that class will be open for two years unlike a couple I am taking that close this week and in a few weeks. Priorities! I am drawing everyday and that is really my main focus, not WHAT I am drawing/painting. I’m glad you are enjoying the class and getting back into something you really like. I wonder if you’ve looked at Jane Davenport’s face painting classes. She goes into more detail in how to make an eye, a mouth and a nose although they are more “whimsical” as she calls it but you can go as realistic as you want. It’s good instruction and I found I was glad I had taken a couple of her classes before taking Judy’s or I’d be lost.

    Happy Anniversary! Fortythree years is a long time (I know because I’m going on 42 this year). Hope you have a fun dinner or some celebration planned. Hope you have many more too!

    • Thanks, Timaree. Congrats on your 42! It’s a wonderful accomplishment – and so easy to do!

      Thanks for the recommendations. I do know the how, it’s just putting it into practice so that it comes easily. I’m trying to concentrate on the doing right now. And I hear ya on the acrylic paint – who knew that would be the hardest part!

  7. Lesley, congrats on stepping up and pursuing something you wanted! I think sometimes that we worry about something more if it really is important to us.

    It is uncanny how perfectly in sync this post is with my creative journey this week. I love drawing portraits (especially in charcoal) but haven’t done any in a long time. I joined a group show with the theme of 100 films & picked the noir classic Double Indemnity specifically to get back to it. After procrastinating for weeks & causing myself unneeded stress, I tucked in. About half way through the face, which went much smoother than expected, did I understand I had been worried I’d “lost my touch”. Not only was it easy to get back drawing, but it was a lot of fun.

    • You, too, Stacey? How funny. I never would have guessed. That’s why I share all. People always think they are the only one when it’s usually the other way around. It’s so funny. I have learned to say to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and laugh at the answer because the answer is “NOTHING!”