Thanks to everyone for your feedback. I incorporated all suggestions, such as using pastels. The charcoal pencils became too stiff and hard, so the pastels being softer were easier to work with
I agree the first one is great! Love it!
Thank you Denise and yes, sometimes I think I like the first better
I agree that choosing less easy subjects makes us better artists. Matt also said something to that effect. For me, art is about noticing something inspiring and trying to match my vision. It rarely matches, but I keep trying. Thank you for your insights. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.