Interesting, in college our teachers were not too concerned about us working from our imaginations, they reminded us that the Old Masters certainly didn't, I guess it depends on what sort of art you want to produce. I like realism and can't draw accurately enough without a subject, but I feel completely ok with that, thanks solely to those art professors giving me that permission so-o-o many years ago.
It is frustrating though if I have a picture in my head that I can't put on paper because I don't know how to recreate it, which the masters certainly could do.
"True artist" is a concept I've wrangled with and have had to make a certain peace with, I know my limits (color for one) but I also know artistic ability is always in flux and where we are now is not where we will be as long as we keep working. So that's some comfort to me. I look at your beautiful rich drawings and they feel like art to me, I know you know it's all so subjective, but if you aren't creating what your heart and mind tell you to, then that's a sticking point all right.
Well, it sounds a marvelous step in the right direction, paper, pencils and a warm blue ocean.
don't worry, spiders, I keep house casually.
~ Kobayashi Issa
(1763 - 1827)