About a year ago I stumbled on to a website called WAMP. It is a site dedicated to improving your painting skills and yet still remain a friendly place. Not sure exactly sure what WAMP stands for, probably Wild About Miniature Painitng or some such. If I recall correctly, I first had read about it on TMP.
WAMP features forum, galleries, and usually several low key contests. Painters run the gamut of skill levels and interests. So far I have found everyone to be very friendly, offering advice and insight. I've been trying to up my participation in the site as part of my effort to improve my painting skills. I recently was part of a "Ladder Challenge" which is where you go mano-a-mano against another WAMPer, usually over an agreed on theme. I found this an interesting challenge and it pushed me to try to paint in different ways.
Win or lose, I have to say it was a lot of fun and pushed my painting skills. Here was my entry: Thyra, a Menoth warcaster.
I am looking forward to my next Ladder challenge on WAMP. If your interested in figure painting, I highly recommend you check out WAMP!