Taking a little break from the Flamenco paintings. These are some of my recent head studies. Various sizes (7 x 5 to 16 x 12) and various surfaces (linen, paper, vellum).
When I have just a short amount of time, say, an hour or two to work, that's not enough time to really get into a painting. Often it takes that long to set up, get going, and get into the groove. And to have to stop before I'm fully immersed is irritating and frustrating, so it's not really worth it for me to work on anything substantial.
But I do want to paint, or draw, if only to keep my chops greased... so when I don't have a lot of time, I often just do head studies. Many of these are master copies or studies using master works, such as those of Sargent, Sorolla, Velazquez, Fechin, Cornwell, and others. Some are painted using drawings as references, and some are painted or drawn from life (if a model is available).
Painting fast studies like these takes a lot of focus but it is very rewarding to see something tangible in such a short time. I don't show these in galleries nor sell them (they're copies!); they're just for practice, but what I can learn from painting a Sargent head pays in spades when I do do my own work, and not just heads, either.
We all have busy lives and can't always spare a chunk of time to immerse ourselves fully in painting, but that doesn't mean we can't make good use of a fragmented hour here and there. I highly recommend getting into the habit of doing head studies from masterworks – It may take a while to get going, but you'll see great improvements in your skills if you keep it up. The key is to be able to get up and going quickly, whenever there's spare time. Having a "head study station" just for this purpose is enormously helpful.
Remember, half the battle (some say 90%) is just getting started!