Okay decided to take it slow and just try drawing some faces and skulls from references to start off with. The first two are references, except the ones I starred, which are sketches from memory. The last sketch paper is all done from memory.
Just a few mixed sketches of lions both with or without reference, each individual lion about 3 minutes long. I tried not spending to much time on the details to focus more on the fluidness of the shape.
Quite honestly, I feel like my abilities have gone backward for some reason. -_-
I think that in your portraits you need to lay down more basic shapes, guide lines for eyes and nose etc, before you go into the rendering. The the last image, the colours and shading are decent but her features look very skewed and just spaced strangely. Unless she was a very bizarre looking female, I think that some guides would have helped greatly here.
The best way to explain it would be to find an old Andrew Loomis book. I know you can download free PDF's online. Have a search.
(on the topic of ART) She's a demanding bitch that wants ALL your time and gets angry and pulls away if you even LOOK at another creative endeavor! "What, I'm not GOOD enough for you now? hm? well guess what, BAM! now try to draw without me, ya bastard!"