I've added a new page to this blog listing painting events and competitions from around the US. There are a lot of great shows outside the US (Euro Militaire, Salute, Hussar, Scale Model Challenge, Monte San Savino, Golden Demon, and many many more) but I'm focusing on those a little closer to me. After all, they are the ones I'm most familiar with. For those of you in the US, take a look and I highly recommend checking out any that are near you. The online community has done a lot of great things for painters, but actually seeing the figures in person can give you a whole new level of appreciation.
Many of the shows (Lone Star, SCAHMS, MFCA, HMSNEO, Bay Area Open, NCMSS, MMSI, LIMMS, and Atlanta) operate on the open system of judging. The way this works is, instead of directly competing against other people, each person's entries are judged against a set standard. The judges score your work and determine whether it merits a gold, silver, or bronze medal (or certificate of merit). So if 20 people deserve a gold medal, then they hand out 20 gold medals. This system is a nice way to chart your improvement. With podium style judging (only 1 gold, silver, and bronze per category) you can get a gold one year and then nothing the next. With the open system, if you keep improving your abilities, you should be able to go from bronze one year to silver the next and finally gold. Now, the bigger shows tend to have tougher standards because the competition level is higher. A gold winning figure at the NCMSS show might only get a silver at the MFCA, but don't let that discourage you.
Here is the link to the events page, but you can also find it listed on the menu at the top of this site: