Ooh the white chalk is a great idea! Thank you. I always leave it blank but it tends to get covered by charcoal and graphite dust anyway. I try to go for high contrast but that can really mess it all up.
Try working systematically (practice really helps to make you more comfortable with charcoal), start out with harder charcoal and only add darkest tones in the end. Cover your drawing with a blank paper or something, to protect areas that are already finished, sometimes it's also good to simply use fixative for a finished layer before starting to add more charcoal. And if none of that helps you protect satisfyingly white areas of the drawing, add it - whether chalk, pastel or even acrylic or gouache. Don't be afraid to mix them all up
I wish I had fixative anyway. I'm so used to shading the darkest tones first. It would be strange to try to do it the other way around, but I'll give it a shot! I'm still very new to charcoal, so I really appreciate all the tips, thank you!
I really like this portrait. The charcoal and the way you used it add even more deepness to the eyes; I think her eyes are an important focal point in this work, they lead my eyes into hers. Another detail I really like of this work is the hair: they look so natural and wild. Lovely, Lovely artwork