Painting is always a balance between what you see and what you express. This is at the very essence of all kinds of art, be it painting, sculpting, character design, animating, whatever.
Artists have a whole world to choose from. Sometimes there is so much information in what you are observing that it's hard to pick and choose what to put into your work. But this is what makes all art interesting...how we as individuals choose to interpret what we see. A lot of artists look to other artists for ideas, which is fine, but only as a jumping off point for inspiration. Over a lifetime, it's important to find your own personal vision. This is really hard to do, especially when you're young and heavily influenced by the artists that taught you. For me, it's only now (at 37) that I am finding my way into my own individuality. But that's part of what makes it challenging. Personal growth is a path that leads us to good things and keeps life interesting, regardless if you are an artist or not.