Announcing a new section in the Gallery page, entitled Charcoal Portraits!
Portraits fascinate me because they are so difficult. The difference between a person looking like themselves or looking like their brother can be nothing more than the distance between their eyes being a millimeter off; so if every proportion, shape, and shadow in a portrait is not exactly correct, the viewer will know that you messed up. They may not even recognize the person in the portrait.
I don't pretend to be a master portraitist, and that's why I love it so much. Painting a tree is easy; if you make a branch you don't like, just keep making more branches until no one notices it. Portraits on the other hand, require practice drawing, understanding perspective and structure, study of anatomy and proportion, and mastering the medium that you're using in order to make something that's even adequate, let alone excellent. The level that the top portraitists in the world are on yet eludes me, and that's what makes practicing it so compelling.
The next level of skill in any discipline is not something that arrives magically or easily, and there's no way to get to it except to just work. By working on something over and over, every day, you develop, and you close the gap between your aspirations and your abilities. And then one morning, you wake up, and there you are.