I have been the GWS Entry Chair for their National Show for four years. I have learned more than I imagined by doing this job. It is a demanding but interesting responsibility.
Artists want to enter shows for lots of reasons - to get some feedback on their artwork, to build their resumes, and maybe win a prize (often accompanied by money) Some use it to get their work into the public eye. When GWS sends out a call to enter their National Show they are soliciting entries from all over the country. Right up until the deadline, scores of images arrive in my mailbox or inbox and I get to look at all the entries before I catalog them and send them to the competition judge. That judge is always a well regarded artist on the national level.
Just looking at all those images as a group has really educated me. I think I can now spot quickly what makes a good painting and what does not. It isn't about nice colors, although they are great. It isn't about subject matter, either. It's about confidence and style and knowledge of composition. When I see a painting that is - for instance - a picture of flowers in a vase that looks like any other painting of flowers with weak colors that look fussed over I know the judge will not accept it into the show. If I see flowers that look vibrant with good values and maybe a little twist to the way the flowers or vase are rendered and the composition is interesting I know it's a good one.
Can I translate this knowledge into great paintings for myself? Not always. But since I have seen so many paintings that just need some tweaking to be terrific I have tried to make sure I take that one extra step forward to make my paintings better.