I've uploaded a work flow of how I create a landscape//waterscape. Most of the time I use a reference for the sky. If the photo appeals to me, I use it as a reference to paint from....after that, it's pure imagination on how I finish the completed painting.
Below, I've begun a mountain scene. The bottom of the photo was cut off, but I already have an idea what I would like to do with the scene to complete the painting.
The photo came from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/. One can choose and download any photo one wishes to use. . (In return it would be nice to give photos that you don't mind sharing either to the site).
I'm using layers, reference photo and Twisted Brush Pro Studio 22.02. I've already blocked it and started to work on the sky.
A reference is a good guideline for placement of interest or objects, (and/or) color. After painting the sky and mountains, I added the lake. If one wishes to add birds or trees in the foreground, it is up to the artist.