In most arts lots of practice and if varied does improve your skills and as in photography you need to take many and I do mean many photographs. I do believe you need to be able to see differently.
Being creative, seeing new possibilities in your mind, imagining, also requires lots of practice. There is no formula, like camera settings, that allows you to press and get the perfect picture. This is something that you need to visualize. By not only being creative with your camera, but in post-processing, painting or drawing, gardens or even creating paths in the woods, you will be able to see more with your camera. This playing around gives more space for your imagination to grow.
My stay in San Miguel de Allende did influence my painting style as I decided to try a series of 6 painting about cacti. I wanted each to be slightly different but about the same subject.
This was more about playing with colors
This is really a succulent but close enough for me.
Each painting is a 16” x 20” oil on canvas.
Cacti have a lot of greens and this series was about using different greens with complimentary colors.
Photographs were all used as reference material as there are no cacti here in Ottawa. At least non outdoors that I can paint from.
This image above still needs some minor changes.
Each are different as I hoped and some seem to work better than others. That's the joy of experimenting. You're not quite sure how it will turn out.
The one thing that became very apparent is that oil colours, at least the saturated mixed, could not be captured with a 12 bit sensor. Non of these photos show the true vibrancy of the real paintings.
This is now something to strive for when printing photos. To somehow still have a bright luminance reflect off the photo. This is mostly about contrast and an easy method to create the allusion is to darken and mute color in surrounding areas. There may also need to be some softening to add a bit of glow effect.