Sketching from life (still life, life drawing, field sketching) is a handy exercise to keep your eye trained that reference drawing can’t compare to. In this case, a field trip to a zoo that had a small variety of deer proved relaxing, informative, and downright fun. Most of the sketches were tonal or gestural. There were definitely angles of how the jaw located to the neck, unusual behaviors which the deer displayed, and new body physiology that a reference photo (even Google’s hoard) couldn’t really display (re: folds in the fur, environmental details).
Needless to say, if you can get out there and sketch your subject (even little thumbnails), it’ll improve your drawing and educate your artistic endeavors.