Tentatively finished - the saga is detailed 2 posts ago. A couple of things I noticed from dong this one - the detail of the forehead creases really helps because it sets up a finer level of scale that, when you're looking at that, makes the basic forms become secondary or subliminal. Whenever you're concentrating on one level of detailing the other is still there to be seen peripherally, it sets up a sort of vibration that really sells the piece. But it only works because several other things support it - the expression, uplifted eyes and brows, and the tilt of the head all work in conjunction with the detail of furrowed brow.
Also the colors are juicy compared to anything I've done before. I notice there's a lot more red in evidence, mixed into each color, something I always tend to avoid. Usually my secondaries tend away from red for some reason. It makes most of my work seem cold.
And finally, I've realized that most of my paintings are unfinished. Well, I knew it about many of them, and in fact I left most of them that way because I figured I had learned enough as a study and there was no point in putting more time and effort in when most of them aren't well conceived enough to stand alone. But I'm really starting to realize that more work on each could push them past the point of critical mass. The ones that look by far the best are the 2 first ones - the Fafhrd illustrations that I put probably hundreds of hours each into. They have a surface vibration and sense of scale to the detailing that none of the rest have. And then last night I ran across this Thomas Sowell quote:
"Doing 90% of what's required is one of the biggest wastes, because you have nothing to show for your efforts. But doing 110% of what's expected is one of the smartest investments because it can pay off with big rewards for just a little more effort."
I have almost nothing to show for the last 2 years because I haven't put enough effort into anything. I want to finish out this year strong. You can't change anything else about a painting - the skill level you have at the time, the concept you came up with, etc, but you can certainly put in more time and effort. It's the one factor you have complete control over and can tip the balance strongly in your favor.