I know there is a certain trend out there by which an artist “should never ever ever EVER! use a reference… jeez, that is cheating! That is like tracing!! and those that do it are criminals and should be shunned from the art community and incarcerated!!!” Well… maybe not that much, but you get the idea. Certain people believe that the use of reference is wrong. It pains me more when this comes from artists themselves that also look down on artists that do use reference and consider them ‘not good enough, not virtuoso’.
Well, I have learned loads since I started using reference, and yes, I also talk about copying with learning in mind. Using references allowed me to see, really see color interactions, folds, anatomy poses, so much!
And when I need references I find my self going over and again to Deviantart. Deviantart for all its faults is a place that has a big base of stock artists that generously provide their work for others to use at no charge. I encourage you to browse through it, it holds a bunch of jewels that will have exactly what you had in mind!
As soon as I started to use stock images I felt that I should at least try to give back part of what I was receiving so I opened my own stock account. It is mostly dedicated to natural elements, such as (but not limited to) flowers, landscapes, animals and trees. Truth is that I am not terrible active because sometimes months can pass before I have something worth of uploading, especially when I exhaust the theme around my house 🙂 but I do have a nice collection of hundreds of images and I enjoy very much when people uses them.
So if you are in search of nature-related images, please pass by CotyStock.deviantart.com and see if I have what you need.