Now, for the competitions. I've participated in many of these. Rarely has their been more than one or two other women there. I have made many friends from participating in these competitions and even some business associates. I would not take those relationships back for anything. However, what I don't like about these friendly competitions is that it's impossible to put your art up next to others, have it judged and not "win" and not feel like crap. I don't generally create commercial art either. And as I've said before, I don't create fast art. Probably it wasn't smart for me to ever join in on an art competition, but I figured I had to try it. I like the community it creates when you throw a bunch of artists together and tell them to create a presentable (if not actually finished) piece in 5 hours. What I don't like is that at the end when someone is pointed out as being the best and everyone else is left feeling that their art didn't stand up. Assuming that you are an artist at a professional level (people pay you for your craft and you aren't selling it on a sidewalk) and that you worked hard to create a piece - there is no need for anyone to be "better" than another. Everyone is a professional and no one should feel poorly at the end of the day. It's not football, there are no rules to abide by or specific training, no plays to learn or strategies to outwit your opponent. It's art. I'd rather we stop treating it like a game or spectacle. But hey, that's just my two cents. And, of course, I'll keep supporting all of my lovely friends and colleagues that choose to continue to participate in these events. They're talented people and I'm not going to judge them for what they do ... just as I'm done with being judged for what I do.