The concept of a "competition" when engaged it the arts is a bit absurd. In my years of formal education anything that settled on an absolute simply didn't exist. Of course there's selling....so the idea of competitions is anti-modern, but that's not necessarily bad is it?
Painting is not a group activity, I go to great lengths to find remote locations, not because they're more prosaic than the I.G.A. parking lot, (well maybe a little), but because for me painting is a meditative process, I'm focused on looking and totally forget about everything else, I don't want to be watched, or to have conversations with anyone. So a painting contest is out of my comfort zone on a number of levels.
In this particular group of painters I felt a bit different, maybe it's just my view of it, but ultimately I could see how the focus of my work differed from my comrades, and it clarified for me what that focus was. I'm going to keep the paint loose, and the brushstrokes visible. I'm going to find compositions in nature and let nature reveal it's symmetry to me. I'm going to focus on getting the light with color that I see. I have to work fast, the light is fleeting, and I must see it and it must be in front of me, because if I can't remember what I went into a room to get, how will I remember the subtle changes in tone between the rock and the water? These convictions are for me, for now, and I can change them at will anytime for any reason. Each and every artist needs to decide what they do for themselves, what works or doesn't, and I feel that this competition helped me clarify this.