I was about to say "enough is enough," set it aside and move on. However, I decided that I would gain more from finishing out the study, by following through and seeing what happened.
Acrylic on primed paper
Click here for reference
I am glad I did.
I discovered that, even though it seemed futile at the time, I was closer than I had imagined. And by finishing the study, I also came to understand what was really going on in the image, what it would take to bring it to a finish, and what it would mean if transposed to a larger painting. What was lacking was not color - it is a pretty low-chroma image; the color relationships are downplayed and subtle. In fact, the colors needed to be dull. I just hadn't put the accents in, and the piece still had a little more effort left.
And it gave me an opportunity to do some fun things like the 'lost' and 'found' edges of the hair.
What I ended up with is a nice little portrait study. There are some good things happening in it, and I'm glad I pursued it to the end.
And what I gained was a little more experience (i.e. competence,) and a whole lot more confidence.
The experience reminded me of a story related to me, regarding W. Edwards Deming and the 'red beads' experiment:
Most people give up and stop, just before succeeding - or just before improvement.
And that is what color studies are for: learning and improvement.