Often I'll make paintings from compositions of several photos. Moving subjects around until I get a dynamic design is one of my goals. If your painting is only as good as your reference material, you may miss a feeling you want to convey. I let the reference be a spring-board from which I develop my ideas.
In this painting of a city maintenance crew, the men are working to repair stop lights after a storm. I let the reflections on the wet street as well as the rich warm colors against the grey backdrop tell the story. With a value plan of a large light with small darks in a field of midtones, the eye is drawn to the focal point of the worker carrying a cone and then around the painting.