Here's another little head study I did last year. 2015 was really all about developing my "party trick" skills, specifically, getting proficient at painting quickly on the fly. Being able to bust out a painting might not be as cool as some party tricks, but it is a little more career advancing. I decided I wanted to be able to demo in front of an audience at the drop of a hat, so I did a lot of alla prima paintings both from life and from photo references. The one below is only a few inches tall.
I've been experimenting with all sorts of approaches--drawing outlines and shadow shapes with umber first, and skipping straight to light masses on a dark ground (as above); painting with carefully pre-mixed paints, and painting into the mud (ie, letting my palette turn into a giant slurry of brush mixed tints); changing around which features I start with, the dimensions of my panel, the tone of the panel....etc etc. Instead of finding a preferred approach, I've discovered that the fun is in mixing things up constantly.
(By the way, I've talked before in other posts about creating a faux linen weave on my panels with criss-crossing brush strokes of acrylic gesso. I think the painting above really shows off this effect to advantage.)