Comparing photo reference paintings with sketch reference paintings

Left: painting from series of sketches. Right: painting from one photograph.

There is definitely a visual difference between the paintings I have done from sketches, and the paintings done from photographs. 

Paintings from photographs I think look far more confident in brushwork, colour palette and paint application. 

But I think the paintings done from sketches are also a lot more mysterious somehow. They seem more ephemeral, whilst the paintings from photograph are quite literal. By this I mean the photo ref. paintings, although they have conceptual meaning behind them, appear to have less of a process behind the making of them. And this is true! 
When painting from sketches I apply so many layers of paint; it is a process of trail and error. 
When painting from a photograph I apply the paint with far more purpose. There are hardly any mistakes covered up or layers painted over. The photograph gives me one perspective which I follow. I just paint and complete it.

This is something to explore further with my practice. I want the movement and, I don’t know, something there that I can’t put into words yet, from the sketch based experiments. But I also want the confidence and impact of the paintings done with a photograph. 
How do I achieve both in one work? That is something to keep in mind and experiment with. 

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