Hi all.
I don't post much on CA, but I lurk the critique, sketchbook and art discussion forums a lot and I was debating on whether or not to post this as I know this particular forum is littered with 'I don't know what I am doing, help' threads. I was hoping I could get some advice/opinions on drawing in general.

I see a lot of new artists and members to CA being told to study from life and books, Loomis, Bridgman etc, and I consider this a huge part of my learning process like many other artists. However, as obvious as this may sound, should imaginative drawing not be as big a part of your learning process as studying from life, if it is your end goal to be able to draw confidently from imagination (but not exclusively, all artists need references). I know that working artists use references religiously, setting up models and scenery, even when drawing dragons and things that don't exist in real life, but I have to admit I get confused in the critique forum when I see artists asking for help on a piece obviously drawn from imagination. They are told to study the reference more closely, to use a different reference, to scrap the piece entirely because the piece is 'lost', but isn't creating images, extracting those ideas from your brain however poorly executed they may be part of the process? Do you always have to be working exactly from life or from a photo of that thing you want in your drawing, be it a figure striking a certain pose for your drawing to be considered credible?

This is purely opinion, and I'd love to hear everyone elses thoughts. I think it's very easy as a beginner to be deterred from creating the pieces we want to because we don't have the skill, you spend all your time studying anatomy (which is obviously worthwhile) but if you haven't practiced the type of art you actually want to make then how can you do it? I know some people would argue that if you had studied all the fundamentals enough you would be able to make all the art you wanted to but that's where I'm unsure as a beginner. I don't know if any of this made sense at all haha, I apologise if not.

I know you guys must get sick of discussing things like this, especially if you're a professional certain things just seem obvious, but it's just something that's been on my mind and had to get it off my chest, so that's why it's a bit muddled!