Ain't that the truth! I like charcoal, but don't like the dustiness of it. Same with pastels. Oil pastels are ok. Do you use a fixative when you work with the charcoal? I used it with pencil drawings and found it helpful. But not until I was at a certain point in the work. before that it was just dirty dirty hands.
I use a workable fixative when I work with any type of pencil or chalk. If it really gets super dusty and I want it all to stick I'll spray a light coat, let it dry then keep working. I always spray several light coats when I'm finished though, to the point where it doesn't smudge anymore, which is nice.
I'm fairly clean in my work station, I was my hands frequently while drawing, maybe once every hour or two. I tend to hold my compressed charcoal with a bit of tissue to help prevent it getting on my fingers as well. I have a main spot for most everything too, so I pick up a piece, use it, and then set it back gently into its place. Keeps me organized, more efficient, and best of all clean lol. When I'm getting really into though and it's totally spur of the moment, I tend to get a lot more messy haha. Having an Art Bin (tuber ware or sorts) is nice to keep my stuff organized. I've heard of some people drawing with cotton gloves actually, I've never really tried it though, I like having more feeling in my finger tips you know?
Another thing is I'll gently draw in layers with charcoal, not pressing it so hard that particles break off everywhere, then I'll blend it into the paper with a stump or tissue, I find this works pretty well to help with 'dust control'
I pretty much gave up on charcoal. I love the look of pastels, but found oil pastels the way to go for me. And for black and white, graphite, with fixatives to control smearing. But now you've given me the urge to play with the charcoal again. So I may have to revisit it after all!
It takes time, you just need to train your eye to see in values and shapes rather than outlines as we tend to do when we sketch out something. A value scale is a really helpful tool to use. They're good practice to make too.
[link] This is good example, once you've made one you can compare it to the values of the resource you're drawing from to help differentiate darks and lights really well (I use one all the time)
I hated when I was made to draw drawing with value only, no lines allowed, lol. Drives me nuts sometimes still, but I will grudgingly admit that once I got used to it, I felt my drawing had more depth to them. Bit by bit is always the surest way to go!
Crows are awesome and ravens. I found a baby raven once and managed to rear it...........I thought when he went he would come back but he didn't!!!!!!!!! Awesome job catching things for him to eat, especially when he got bigger. His name was Toulouse.