I probably get more questions about painting faces than any other single subject.
I think it helps to have been raised in a home where your survival depended on reading the faces around you. I learned quickly to automatically gauge the slightest change of expression to determine how I could help my mother. She was depressed and moody much of the time and there was no prozac or therapy for mothers in the 50's to turn to (thank God she did not drink) so ours was a household of emotional, hormonal women trying to find balance. My father on the other hand was volatile. His anger would take him to his bedroom to cool off (sometimes for hours) during which time the household hung suspended in helpless misery. We loved him so much and it crushed us to make him angry. I think our culture has made wonderful strides in the decades since then in dealing with depression and the anger it provokes. The only tools my parents had was their church which did give them a sense of community and support. But I wish my mother had been able to have more help than that. I wish she could have been happier.
In the event that you were not schooled in such a household I will let you look over my shoulder while I correct a face in a painting that is not quite right. You will have to look closely as the change will be subtle. I don't always fidget so much with expression in a painting but in this case it was important to the story and so I made some changes.
This is the face that needs correcting. I have painted a woman balancing on a tight rope. I want her to be concentrating but I think that in this case her expression is slightly too startled. She appears to be on the verge of falling (slightly fearful) and I don't want her to look like that. So I am going to make her eyebrows look less questioning and concerned and make her lips look more relaxed. These are the changes I make to take the fear out of her face.
Ahhh, that pleases me. I don't want her to look like she is falling. She has to work for it but she will keep her balance. Here is the painting in its entirety.