Talking about La Belle Dame sans Merci ... I thought you might be interested to see one of my preliminary studies, done a while back. I was really pleased with the outcome because it took a while to get the expression I wanted for the character. When models are not available, or when it feels right to, I use myself in my paintings - not as a self portrait but as a character, playing a part. I also ask friends and relatives to play the role of characters which can be a lot of fun. I like to use someone who, in some way, fits the role - not only to tell the story of the character, but also to tell the story of the model.
Working on a series of paintings, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci'. Here on my easel: one work in progress and two studies.