I wanted to share some recent insight I had about having different approaches to making art. I always catch myself wanting to have a clear, linear style way of painting, but the truth is that it's good to have various ways of working. For my pet portraits I work in a certain way, usually slower and in a few distinct layers. But I also love working completely alla prima and finishing a painting in one sitting.
This is also true for the way I use source material. Using my laptop and photos to paint pet portraits is super convenient, but you have to be careful because it can get flat really quickly and the colors can appear different. I mainly love working en plein air, but that has its own disadvantages; the light is always changing and it's a race against the clock sometimes. But the advantage to working outside or from life in general is clear in the final work.
Basically, there's no right way or wrong way or "cheating" or anything. It all becomes your own work when you put your signature on the piece. Learn to love the variety that painting provides. It's all your own as long as you create it!