It's been a long time since I have last worked on something that wasn't a commission.
I've been wanting to work on less static poses for a while, but didn't feel comfortable straying too far from my comfort zone when I was working on images for other people.
The result is far beyond my expectations, and might be my new favorite thing I've ever drawn.
This is mostly thanks to an excellent reference, yes, but also to a new sketching brush that feels much more fluid and loose than the old one I was using. I feel a lot more confident while I'm sketching when I use that new brush - it's really difficult to explain why that is exactly, but it's true.
I'm probably not going to open commissions for a little while still. Beyond more "fluid" poses, I also want to work on textures (haven't yet started that), speedpainting environments, perspective and maybe simplified characters (cute pseudo-chibi stuff, that is to say). Basically, I'm trying to improve my speed, diversify the types of stuff I can draw and and push the render quality of paintings one notch further, and I find it hard to work on things like these when I'm drawing a commission (I don't want to give a commissioner something too different from what they were expecting).
Practice practice practice.