You need to be able to evaluate your own work in an objective manner. Looking at your own work can become so familiar over time, that you might have stopped seeing some of its strongest–and weakest–elements. When others see your art, they are looking at it for the first time.
Entering art shows can also be very intimidating, and sometimes frustrating. Entering a competition pushes you to do a painting that is so good you feel no judge would even think of rejecting it.
But what does that mean? What do the judges know about painting? What is their background? Are they being truly objective? Are they influenced by current trends in art? Can they judge paintings that are not in their style? Do they really take the time to study every painting submitted?
I’ve entered two paintings in each of the previous five exhibits. They were judged by ten different judges. All of the paintings below were rejected for that year's show. They are not bad paintings. In fact, I know they are some of my best.
Finally, one of my paintings, "D and M Falls" has been accepted into the Transparent Watercolor Society of Americas' exhibit, when I will be awarded signature status! Being accepted into the TWSA is an accomplishment, and a personal honor.
Winning a competition will provide you with validation and distinction as a professional fine artist, and will inspire you to work even harder. Just keep painting good paintings, and good things will happen.
Persistence really does pay off!