Finding the bones first
This past Thursday I followed my own advice. I spent the first hour of our three-hour session on a drawing. This yielded much better results. An actual good likeness and acurate proportions.
After drawing for an hour, I duplicated the drawing, reduced its opacity, and then painted above the drwaing on a new layer.
Taking an hour to settle in and get my hands, eyes, and brain working together really makes a difference.