Trying to refine a picture is one of the most challenging things to do. I move away from the pattern and use the original photograph to make alterations. The goal is to give the essence of the person in the quilt.
I have made subtle changes to the yellow portrait. This is what I started with:
This morning, I added deeper color to her eyebrows and the area around her eyes. I also made the eye on the right side smaller since that side of the face is receding away from the viewer.
I then decided that there was not enough highlight on the right eye in the corner by the nose so I added a lighter color there. I needed deeper shadows in a few places to highlight certain areas so I added deeper color under the chin, in the throat area, and on the right side of the face to give more separation between the face and her hair.
At this point, the mouth still looked wrong to me. At some point, I had cut away the shadow of the upper lip on the right hand side because it was too deep — but in hindsight, there needed to be some deeper line there to show the full character of the smile. I raised the lip a quarter inch or so and changed the shadow so that it created a crease in its corner.
I feel very good about the piece at this point.