Sometimes I'm lucky to see real beauty right from my window. That's how the American winter landscape on the left has been made.
I do take hundreds of photos every time I go out in hope that one day I can use them for my artwork. They constantly appear in random order on my desktop.
My wild imagination and dreams often bring me vivid pictures worth painting.
I like using 3D modelling for creating landscapes and/or people to paint later.
I also feel its fine to be inspired by random photos in books, newspapers, on the web, in movies. After all, I'm not copying them photorealistically, merely interpreting. Artist Pablo Picasso said "Good artists borrow, great artists steal." And, of course, all artists & photographers steal from God a bit... Poor Van Gogh copied his favorite artists when couldn't afford live models.
Last, I sometimes do copies of historic art from all over the World to learn about old masters approach.