Why I Don’t Gift Paintings

I rarely paint for people who are not family or paying customers. I think it is awkward. Art is so personal and everyone has their own preferred style. My family has no problem telling me exactly what they like and it’s usually not in line with my own preferred style of art work so I appreciate the honesty. Paying customers will also tell you exactly what they want. Gifting artwork to someone who is not expecting it is a risk. If they don’t like it, they likely feel forced to hang it up anyways and that’s got to suck. I also doubt anyone would openly admit to me if they didn’t like it (other than my family or paying customers). So friends, if you’ve never received a painting from me, this is why!

Not too long ago, I broke my own rule and actually painted a gift painting for someone who I didn’t know all too well for his birthday. It was one of those awkward situations were I’d be on a few dates with this guy, and then it happens to be his birthday. So naturally, I can’t do nothing for it, but then I also don’t want to go overboard since it had only been a few weeks. He’d seen a few of my paintings and particularly liked these two, City Love and After Midnight.


At one point we had a conversion over text messaging that went something like this:

Him: So what painting are you working on ? Tell me what that couple is up to!

Me: They’re in different provinces texting one another

Him: No !! You always paint them together !!

Me: Fine, they’re cuddling 🙂

Him: No! No and no !! They are always outside

Me: Fine! They’re outside in a snow storm, holding each other tightly to keep warm.

Him: Why are they outside in the cold ? Their car broke down ? They are lost ?

Me: No baby, they are just caught up in the moment. They were on their way inside but just wanted to hold each other and enjoy the moment

… and this went on for a little bit longer.

So naturally, after this conversation I was inspired to paint exactly that, and figured it would make the perfect birthday gift.

need a title still
Caught Up In The Moment – 16×20″ – Acrylic on Canvas

Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that it did.… He did  guess what the painting was of based on that conversation we had had earlier, but I’m pretty sure I show more enthusiasm for my morning cup of coffee on a daily basis…

Zoomed in section
Zoomed in section

Needless to say, things didn’t work out! Although it had nothing to do with the painting. If I sound bitter, I promise I’m actually not. I knew from the beginning that giving a painting as a gift is a risk and I don’t take it personally, and we parted ways because we just weren’t a good match 🙂

If you’re an artist, do you give paintings as gifts?

For everyone else, do you like receiving artwork as a gift? I actually love anything and everything handmade, but I’m super sappy. My favorite part of any gift is the card since it’s usually the only part that is personalized. 

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16 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Gift Paintings

  • February 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Your work is phenomenal! How long did it take you to paint “After Midnight?” thanks so much for stopping by the blog this morning!

  • February 18, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Though as a miniature (figure) painter, its less of a range of artistic styles, I’ve found that I rarely gift a painted figure to my mates.

    The palette, style and even the basing material often jar with the rest of their army of figures.

    There is one exception, I’ve taught him to paint and he uses my paints and basing materials so it all fits in.

    For “proper” paintings hung on my walls, there is a certain style for each room, the kitchen paintings differ to the lounge paintings. That even includes the frames (or lack of).

    So I’d agree you have to be very very careful when gifting your personal paintings/painted objects to people and think really carefully about their personal style and presentation.

  • March 22, 2014 at 10:02 am

    If a good friend repeatedly says they like something I might gift a painting. Otherwise, only to family — they ask! Good story!

  • March 31, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Haha! I’m not surprised. He sounded like an engineer, maybe not the best for your particular personality. An aside: when we (geologists) had to work with them, we used to pronounce it enginer – long i, rhymes with ‘and finer’.

    • April 2, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      He was actually a lawyer… much worse in my opinion haha

  • April 2, 2014 at 5:54 am

    Hi cool works you have. I take the risk to gift paint or draw for others. whatever the turn out, they know it’s the heart that counts. : ) But I totally understand your position. Thanks for popping by my blog.

    • April 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      I think that any mature person would appreciate the thought and heart that goes into it. Good for you for being motivated by that, I’m sure people appreciate those gifts from you 🙂

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  • March 10, 2015 at 6:21 am

    So far, I’ve only gifted a painting to my wife. I figure, she already has to live with my artwork, why not give her one she can call hers.

    • January 25, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      I know that some people like my work. I know that some of my family like my work. Could I give a painting to one of my family as a gift? NO! For sure it would be the one they didn’t like. Instead I make sure they know about my friends and family discount. I ask enough that it will pay for the canvas and a little paint. It’s enough not to be a pittance so I know that they want it and I get to go and buy a new canvas and maybe some paint.
      All of my paintings belong to my wife. If it’s hanging on the wall I make sure to ask if it’s for sale or not. If it is and it does she can hang another painting.

      • February 15, 2016 at 8:50 am

        That’s a good system you have. I am taking notes 🙂

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  • January 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    What do you do if you give a painting as a gift and the person you gave it to sells it?


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