It’s difficult for artists to conceive exactly how they want their painting to look. Many artists try to use a shortcut which is they make their painting based on an image that they are looking at somewhere else. The image could be an object in real life, a digital picture or even someone else’s artwork. If you use reference images to make your artwork, does that make you less of an artist?
Do not feel bad if you need to use the reference image when you are creating your paintings or other artwork. The important thing is that you are making the artwork yourself. Many artists will also use reference images even if they do not admit it. You are not the first person to do it and he will not be the last. Using a reference image is not necessarily a crutch. Think of it as a tool.
Be careful not to use other peoples art as your reference image and make an exact copy of it. Every artist has your own artistic style. Your art should be an opportunity for you to showcase your own artistic style, not blatantly copy another person‘s work. It is OK to use a reference image to develop your own style, but it is not OK to make a blatant copy. You may want to credit the original author if you are using a reference image as well.