Cathy - Thanks! I was excited because it did seem so drenched in sunlight, particularly the nose.
Thanks also to reikiart, Lulu, Karl, JP, Tosca, Christian, Jan, Valri, Tommy, Darla, Carol, Pat, Debbie and Katherine!
I took a tumbling class in Ohio for about 6 months and I do a lot of backwards somersaults!
As far as why I perceived it as a breakthrough .. I have a typical working method when I go about portraiture that didn't seem to cut it for me. I have read 2-3 times in the last couple months two particular watercolor books "Mastering Atmosphere & Mood in Watercolor" by Joseph Z and also "Painting Portraits in Watercolor" by Charles Reid.
I think the single most important thing I learned from Z is that if your first main wash doesn't create depth in the picture, nothing will. At that point, it is best to start over. Granted, that is his style, glazing is a different story. Anyhow, I applied that to Reid's ideas in portraiture as well. I start off with one light wash of skin tone and leave out only the highlights (one or two), and let it dry completely. After that, I make one or two big connected shadow shapes that will give definition to the head. At this point it almost looks like a stencil or like poster art. While still damp, I drop in water, lift out, and pull paint around to create soft edges. I keep some hard around the focus point to keep it interesting. At that point, when you squint, the head should have depth and convincing form. Beyond that, you get to what Z calls "jewelry" which is where you have a successful painting, and all that is left is adding small amounts of detail with strong pigment.
Prior to that my working method was a lot different. Now the real challenge - understanding the teaching of these masters, but transcending it with your own style and voice. This is a step in the right direction! If anyone is interested in more specifics on those books or questions about this, you can send me a PM or post here.
Again, thanks everyone!