watch your value transitions between light and shadow masses on the most recent. There is a half-tone that could be used there.
Also, watch for overly sharp background shapes that can pull the eye away from the focus. One thing you can do is to rest your eyes on your image or what you see in the mirror, right on the most important area. i.e. rest your eyes on the area you want the viewer to rest their eyes on. When you do that, paint in the rest of the piece from observing what is happening in peripheral vision. This will allow you to pay better attention to the full range of soft and sharp edges happening from focal area outward, so to speak. Make sense?
Keep up the great work. These are headed on a good path. I definitely encourage you to keep doing this stuff.
great job with your light and structure. nice drawing skills there. my main comment is to take another pass at both of these with your full focus being on the subtle expression that is happening, especially in the eyes. make sure both iris are the same size (minus any perspective from a slight turn or the like). its like an animator...first you get the structure built in 3d and then you animate it...and this needs just a bit more animation to it...seek out the essence...feel.
One of the things to do when you use a mirror is to really make the expression and feel it as if you were feeling that emotion. When you hit that fleeting moment, feel in your face where the points of tension are. Put the details in those areas. Areas that are relaxed can get less detail in the study. This will read to the viewer and help you better project that emotion. For it to work you really have to feel it inside yourself...as if you were an actor. It's like drawing and making notes of something you feel internally rather than just what you see externally. It's one of the secret parts to this...capturing essence.
The goal is to push emotions more and capture essence as well as structure and form and proportion.... A little bit of form and structure hatchery in directions that roll across the form but in key areas where the face is feeling tension...and putting that information and thus contrast, ONLY in the areas of the face where muscles are stressed... will help communicate mood. Keep the areas which muscles are relaxed in the face with less detail. Make the expression yourself so you feel where the stress is...like really make and feel the expression. Put the details in the areas you feel stressed...like the furrowed brow when angry or the corners of the eyes on a **** eating grin...so to speak
You have to make the expression and draw from your feeling the muscles tense up to really capture it...that's part of the secret sauce.
On your most recent I would watch for too overly smooth contour edges...especially in the hair. Also the neckline once again seems to not conform to the structure.
great work though...just keep your underlying structure in mind as you work...from bone structure to muscle structure. I almost feel like the neckline of the shirts are too small to get your head into...just an observation. It's almost working as a stylistic matter.
Nice work on your edges in this one. The neck and shirt would benefit from a bit more observation I think. The neck details and anatomy should wrap around the form and the shirt can have less equal sized folds. Using the same brush for all the folds will lead to it seeming "made up". Look for variety in the folds.
Nice detail...curious if the likeness is on spot but overall the rendering is clean.
Keep focusing on capturing the mood. If all muscles of the face are tensed it can seem stiff...so look for areas that are relaxed when making that face too.
I feel like there are some opportunities to observe cast shadow off that hand.
I think you would be well served to stare into the eyes and make some adjustments to get them to be less....stiff in emotion. The mouth and the rest of the face has more life than the eyes and is well handled. The eyes themselves seem to be pointing slightly in two directions and the lids are feeling frozen open...and so some experimentation and close observation is needed there.
Lastly when staring into your eyes, you need to perhaps let some of the other edges fall into softness so that the eyes of the viewer come to rest on your eyes in the portrait more easily. Focus seems to be jumping around a little bit. (see sharp edge on back of ear on right side, or the light backlight value on the face for example)
Try covering up or masking off all but one eye. ask yourself...what emotion is happening in that eye? what precise emotion is being projected? Am I being deliberate with the emotion (even if very very subtle)? Then do the same for the other. Keep in mind that sometimes one eye can project more emotion than the other or even a contrasting emotion. If you look at photography you can sometimes see that happening...and if you look in life as you are talking to people or watching actors act in film, you can see that too.
for example...the eye on the left here with Mr. Norton seems to be more inquisitive compared to the one on the right, which seems to say "I'm paying attention to you and see you". There is a slightly more serious note happening emotionally in the eye on the right. Do you see what I mean?
Look for that kind of thing when you do these and be deliberate about which emotions you are expressing as the audience will feel it. To do that you sometimes have to purposely do the expression but not observe with your eyes but feel with your nerves in your face..feel for sensations of tension or relaxation or open or closed qualities. You feel it first..then put that in there...then they will feel it.