Drawing realistic or recognizable portraits has been something I've dabbled in over the years but was never quite successful with until a couple of years ago.
I remember my first attempt was using a photograph as my model and then trying to draw color-for-color, element-for-element with colored pencils - this was a few years before the turn of the centruy. Thank goodness, it somehow worked, but it was not an enjoyable process at all. Since then, I've tried it over and over again, but to no avail. The style I presumed to be necessary was one of solid shape and form, but since I started really drawing regularly I've always drawn separate shapes, that when grouped together, make a whole via the mental process of completion. It always worked for abstract or cartoonish designs - why not try it on a real person?
And so, in the spirit of the mad scientist I tried it on myself first and here is the result:
In essence, I stopped running headlong into the same wall. Dazed, wondering why the identical attempts at something were not achieving different results, I tried a different tactic. What I presumed to be the right way of doing things was the not the Cliff way of doing things. Had I but asked, and had I but the confidence to simply try, I would have heard the Spirit of Art tell me, "The right way is the honest way." I thought I had to be "good" in order to draw recognizable portraits or to make drawings that would speak to people - it turns out that's not true. I just have to be true to myself; and I think that's the secret for every artist - just be true to yourself and your art will speak.