View Full Version : I'm No Angel...

01-23-2003, 05:03 PM
I know that giving is better than receiving and all that. Just wondering if anyone else feels as let down as I did recently, when I presented a friend with a piece of artwork I'd done as a birthday gift and the birthday boy, clearly not knowing where to look or what to say, looked instead like Bambi right into a pair of oncoming headlights. Yes, I know we do not give in order to receive a certain reaction and that the act of giving is the (or rather, should be) the entire experience for the artist/giver. But as with giving any present, it gives pleasure to know it will be enjoyed and I guess with something I have worked on, I still feel as if parting with it to begin with is akin to sending it out into the world to cross the LA freeway alone, or something. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Clearly I need to work on this in myself or else reconsider the act of giving away my art. In the meantime, I was just wondering whether anyone else had lately experienced these selfish, outrageous, controlling, insecure flashes associated with the lovely gesture of giving, and if so, if they were willing to admit it here.

Rose Queen
01-23-2003, 08:51 PM
Yes, I have felt this way. I have also felt like your friend, wondering what the heck someone was thinking giving me a [fill in the blank].

Not only is your art a hard thing to part with, it's a fairly tricky gift to give others, since art sensibilities are so highly personal. You can't entirely protect it from a less-than-effusive welcome, but you can minimize the chances of a 'deer in the headlights' reaction by giving your art to those who have actually seen some of your art and expressed more than a lukewarm approval of it. You can also be sensitive to the other person's taste in art, favorite colors, subjects, etc.; as often as not, people select gifts that they themselves would like to receive rather than looking thoughtfully at the things their friends surround themselves with for clues as to what to give them.

But most of all, you can stop beating yourself up because you wanted "huzzahs!" and got "huh?'s." You put a chunk of yourself into making a piece of art, hoping it would be received like the thoughtful and unique token of affection it was, and you feel deflated by the non-response you got. Who wouldn't? You're entitled, so go eat some chocolate and, next year, give the birthday boy (that cultural Phillistine :mad: ) a tie...

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01-23-2003, 11:14 PM
I once gave my husband's 25(ish) year old neice a silk scarf I had painted. ( It's what I do for a living.) It was at Christmas time. She opened it, looked curiously at it, tossed it on the couch and asked where the "real" gift was. OUCH ! :D I have also been given art works by my best friend Cathy and while I am smiling on the outside, I am often scratching my head on the inside.

Rose Queen has a point that we often give what we would like to receive. It's always good to consider the person's personal taste but personally I think he could have shown more appreciation for your effort. The funny thing about the strange art my friend has given me over the years is that I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I love them now because she made them for me. Hopefully your friend will feel the same very soon.

Let's face it, we all want to see awe and admiramtion in the eyes of the receiver....in a perfect world. You put your heart and soul into it, you have a right to feel disappointed but life moves forward, that time has passed, and the world awaits new creations from you.


01-24-2003, 12:27 PM
Currently I am working on a piece myself that was originally intended as a gift for my exgirlfriend. Well, if you have read any of my recent posts you will know we are together but in a rocky time. She said she wanted something from me to put on her wall some time ago but that was while I was stagnate and not creating at all. Now I have tons of ideas and at first I thought she would like what I was going to give her. Now I know she wouldn't appreciate or understand the implications of the art and decided that I will keep it for myself and probably try to sell it at a later time to someone who will appreciate it's image rather than say something snide about it if anyone askes. I want someone to be proud that they have my stuff on their walls and not just view it as something to fill space on their empty wall. Especially if this person is the overall subject and inspiration for the work.

Other than that, I have only given art as a gift twice in my life. Once it was appreciated by my friend, the other was a still life I did for my mother (which was not very good admitedly) and she didn't know where to go with it since even though it was a still life it was my view of it. She always asks why I don't paint "nice" pictures...lol.

01-24-2003, 03:05 PM
I gave a beautiful hand-quilted (hundreds of hours), quilt to my niece for her wedding. Got a "hmmm?????" kind of reaction.

Later found out she no longer had it because, ummm, her dog had ripped it apart while in his cage when they were at work. SHE USED IT AS A DOG BLANKET! I had to laugh! What a terrible present THAT was! I wish she'd have given it back, I would've LOVED to have it. And I bet you feel the same way. What can ya do?

01-24-2003, 03:26 PM
I have done that numerous times...sometimes I make a special peice for their wall or something other kind of project that I worked on, but I like making gifts for people. I think it makes gifts special.

Here are two examples of when I had a very low response....
The first time was when my husband and I were first together and we were pretty much broke..I made some elegent angel ornaments for his family. (I had seen thier tree, as they put it up right after thanksgiving and it was elegent with balls and lights.)
They didn't seem that impressed and later when I asked my husband about it all he said was what were you expecting they are just ornaments.
Now I realize their tree looks the same every year..lights, balls, nothing else...not even the ornarments that I made!!! There is very little personallity at all...it's just like the "perfect tree."Also I realized that my hubby didn't have any attachment to holiday traditions because of the "perfect tree" and "perfect meal"..never any funny stories or fond memories...he always seemed amazed at my stories. (BTW: I chuckle about this..so I hope it doesn't sound bitter.)

The most recent time was when I made my neice a fleece pullover for her birthday. The fabric was the perfect color for her and everytime I would go to a fabric or craft store I would look for the perfect cat buttons. (She really likes cats) She is 8, so her initial response was less then enthusiastic. I am pretty sure she wanted a toy or a book. On the bright side though, she does wear it quite a bit.

Now to end this on a high note:
I have also gotten great responses for giving family and friends peices of art.
One year I gave my grandmother a drawing of a white hare and my sister a dragon sketch both done and framed by me and they loved it. Not only that, someoneelse was so excited about seeing their sketches, they asked for a peice.

Also every year I make my brother some candy/cookies/cake in a handmade box or handpainted tin and he loves it. He doesn't have space or the time to take care of things...so the fact that it is ediable works out great for him. Normally he reuses the box too..so the entire present gets used.


01-24-2003, 03:55 PM
I've given away a few photos that I've done. All of them were to friends or co-workers who had admired my work and wondered if they could buy a copy. At that point in my life I really didn't need the money (and, I love to give nice things to nice people), so if they really wanted to pay I would encourage them to give that money to a favourite non-profit.

I still hear from most of these people about where they have the photos hanging or sitting and how they were just admiring it and wanted to write/phone and check in with me. :)

But I don't think I could/would give one of my photos or paintings to someone if I wasn't 100% sure they liked it (i.e., they'd seen it already and said "WOW!"). Kinda spoils the surprise, but, as has been discussed, some surprises aren't always happy ones.

(...as an aside, the story about the 8-year-old reminds me of my childhood. I had an aunt and uncle who insisted I make out a Christmas Wish List every year and give it to them. I did it for two years. Don't know if they fed the paper to the dog or what, but I didn't get a single thing I put on those lists!:mad: :p And it's not like I asked for a pony or anything more extravagant than a record or tape of my favourite bands...LOL! But I was raised to be very gracious for what I was given.):angel:

01-24-2003, 05:51 PM
when she was about 5 made these hand made candy canes out of paper and with crayon you made lines on the paper rolled them up and stapled them like a cane.
I told her I thought they were lovely, next thing I knew she used up every piece of paper in the house and made them into these candy canes. I hung each and everyone that was my designer tree that year, and the memories of her sweetness brings tears to my eyes today.
See beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, my fussy friend wouldnt let her kids muck up her tree with hand made ornaments, where my tree is nothing but.
I think being an artist and giving something we create is to me like parting with a piece of my heart and soul as that is what I put into everything I do. Sometime none artist just dont get it.

01-24-2003, 10:36 PM
Originally posted by debi-d
when she was about 5 made these hand made candy canes out of paper and with crayon you made lines on the paper rolled them up and stapled them like a cane.
I told her I thought they were lovely, next thing I knew she used up every piece of paper in the house and made them into these candy canes. I hung each and everyone that was my designer tree that year,

What a wonderful gift for your daughter. To acknowledge her creativity and her desire to give something of herself to you.

Gypsy Baubo
01-25-2003, 08:04 PM
I just don't do it any more - give my art work as gifts. I have made hand knit Faire Isle and Aran sweaters, quilts, and many other lovely things as gifts and gotten that "oh, that's nice" reaction.

It's not worth it........

Ron van den Boogaard
01-26-2003, 06:56 AM
I have gotten reactions both ways and both equally surprising. From "terrific" to "Nah".
Years ago I gave a drawing away to friends for their new house. Everytime I visited the drawing was up at the wall. After a few years I noticed the discolorozation on the wall. It was a different size. So another picture was hanging there and mine was only put up when I visited them.

When I know a birthday or other event is coming up, I usually lure the person in question to come look at my work well in advance. Then I can gauge the reaction. When the biggest "Ooh" comes I note their name on the back. So they've picked their own gift. A few weeks later they have forgotten what their favorite was and they're usually very surprised. When it is just the "Nah" reaction, I just go for the flowers, the CD or the bottle of wine.

But more in the Artist Way kind of thinking, this is a great way to find out who is supportive of your work and who is not. Because of reactions to gifts I have in some cases cut some "friends" out of my circle. I appreciate the people who tell me straight that they hate my work more than the ones that tell me that is terrific, but shouldn't I better have a real job. So even the the sometimes hurtful reactions have been invaluable for my development.

Keep giving away. One grateful reaction weighs out ten negative ones.

01-28-2003, 02:38 PM
Notice to everyone who responded to this thread: You can send all those unappreciated gifts to me if you can get them back. I"ll give them a nice home!!

01-29-2003, 10:43 AM
I don't believe giving is "better" than receiving...how could this be? They go together. They are 2 aspects of the same wheel. For one to be able to give there has to be someone at the other end to receive. How else would you feel so much joy at sharing?
Receiving is an art in itself today because of the notions of "selfishness" and selflessness people are brought up with...

The idea is to show and share your work only when it feels appropriate and safe for you. This way you take your power back where it belongs! :D


01-29-2003, 11:17 AM
Gisele, do you really think we're only supposed to show work when it feels safe and appropriate? I thought showing my work outside of my family was the scariest thing I ever did. Scarier than making a speech in front of a bunch of people. But I knew I'd never grow if I didn't. Don't we have to take some chances?

01-29-2003, 02:25 PM
Robin, the point here is to do what feels right for you.

Gisele :)

01-30-2003, 07:54 PM
I too have given a hand created gift only to receive the "Gee, it doesn't really go with any of the colors in my room, where am I going to put this?" Thankfully it was just a small wall quilt and not a queen size or anything like that. This person now receives candles and Bath and Body stuff on those special occasions. lol

01-31-2003, 08:24 PM
Many, MANY years ago, when times were hard, and all I had was my art to keep some sanity in my life, I painted a surreal woman in a flowered dress. My daughter, who was 16 at the time, fell in love with it, and asked if someday, when she had a place of her own, if she could have it. As a "good mother," I said yes.

During a horrible marriage, my now ex-husband expressed how terrible he thought my paintings were, and how he hated seeing them hanging on the walls. He deliberately put some of them outside to weather and crack, and my self-esteem was such that I thought maybe he was right, but not the "contented woman," because I had promised that to my daughter. I gave it to my mom (who, as a "good mother," LOVED any and everything I ever did!!!).

A few years back, I was blessed enough to recieve a good man who truly loves me at the same time that my mother died. We are living in the house I grew up in, and he rehung the "contented woman" in a very prominent place, admiring it's 'vibes'.

Well, my daughter is now a grown woman, and recently moved into a very nice apartment, and guess what she called me asking about....the painting. It caused a minor uproar in that my Most Beloved did not want to part with the piece, but I HAD promised it long before he entered my life...He's expressed many doubts about its preservation, and has more than once expressed a desire to "save" it, should it be at all subjected to potential neglect....We went to Denver recently to see my daughter, and she has the "contented woman" hanging prominently in her living room, where it is one of the first things you see. She told me how a recent visitor was very taken with it and asked where she had found it and was amazed when she said her mom painted it a long time ago...a boost for my self-esteem for sure!!!:D

Personally, I would not give any of my work away unless someone expresses an interest in it. That way, you know it will be appreciated. Otherwise, the ignorant/uninformed will think you gave them "something you made" to save money buying them something. For those folk, I usually buy some nice scented candles...:p

02-01-2003, 04:48 AM
Give yourself a boost, by reminding yourself of the times when your treasured gift was treasured...I unexpectedly came accross a small gift I'd given, displayed months after...what a lovely lift!
I hadn't given it to receive anything...
Also, remember things 'grow' on you, and art is no exception, it may still become appreciated much more......

prairie painter
03-06-2003, 05:55 PM
It took me years to get it through my head that stuff I made was not valued to anyone but me. I grew up treasuring things my grandmother made, but much of that was because I loved my grandmother so much. Yup, now I'm squarely in the "candles and candy" camp. Works well for me, since I tend to paint small, so my works are quite easy to store. And I keep my paintings where noone can see them but me. Probably why I'm in a creative slump, but it does let me hold onto the fantasy that someday someone will find them (along with the book I wrote back when I could still write) and be amazed at my astounding abilities:rolleyes:

05-14-2003, 10:25 PM
(This is my first post!) I used to always worry about giving hand-made gifts to people. I have a nice story about giving art though. A few months ago I did a huge picture which took me weeks and was probably more ambitious than I should have been. I finished it in a bit of a rush so it would be framed on time, and stayed up very late several nights to get it done. I was sick of it by the time it was finished, and the judges weren't overly taken with it either, apparently.

But my sister-in-law came to visit from out of town, and when she saw it on the way out, she really admired it. Now, my husband comes from a family where art is highly valued, so the fact that she liked it meant a lot to me. I pulled it down off the wall and gave it to her, and she cried. Her appreciation healed up the way I was feeling about not getting into the art show. I know that it will be treasured and well cared for.

I'm really sorry that you had to experience the opposite. I know I've often not given art away for gifts because I've worried about something like that happening. And Lisilk, I can't imagine someone not appreciating one of your beautiful scarves!

05-20-2003, 04:20 PM
I think we all have to face the fact that taste in art is personal. Its the same way if you give someone a CD of classical music and they like only Big Band.

When we make art, we are opening up that fragile part of our ego that used to bring crayon drawings to mom to put on the refrigerator. But our friends aren't our moms! They are our peers who are going to take art just as personally as we do, but differently from us.

Next time, get them a picture by me ;) As long as I get paid I don't care if they like it or not. (So do I have to post this in the business section now?? :) )

seriously, save your art for someone who will show their appreciation for it by paying a fair price for it.


05-28-2003, 12:29 PM
well I have only given out 1 work.... to my grandma on her birthday, looking back I can see it is kinda crappy but at the time it was the best I could do (only a few months back :D ) and she actually cried. I'd like to do something for my mother , but she has always been far from supportave and I'm not sure I'm up to THAT yet

05-28-2003, 01:10 PM
Originally posted by prairie painter
And I keep my paintings where noone can see them but me. Probably why I'm in a creative slump, but it does let me hold onto the fantasy that someday someone will find them (along with the book I wrote back when I could still write) and be amazed at my astounding abilities:rolleyes:

Mary, start putting your works up in your place and inviting people over. That's what I did. I didn't have to mention the artwork but I got enthusiastic responses anyway and one woman called me back long distance to say she really enjoyed my stuff. After all, its your home and you can decorate it with whatever you like. Believe me, it will help you get out of your creative slump.

After all, if they don't like it, they just won't comment and you'll still have a good time. Have you ever heard of someone going to a party and saying that sofa's ugly or getting an "Oh that's nice" from a party invitee because the house is decorated funky?

Go for it! Its a low risk way for your stuff to get noticed.

05-28-2003, 01:10 PM
I am 28 and have been painting or drawing since about 9 years old - so I have lots of art:D .
My dad is one of my biggest supporters. When I was 15 I was dating a guy he could not stand, so he offered me a car and private art lessons if I would stop dating him. I told him he would have had a deal with just the art lessons. LOL He ask me to paint him something more than anyone, which of course I always do.
Any way my whole family always ask for me to make them something. I try but the demand get pretty hig sometimes. :D I painted my grandmother a picture of Christ for Christmas a few years ago (I will admit I could do a lot better today) But she hangs it proudly in her den. How great it that!

I have sold a few pieces, but never gave away any to people out side my family - to scared. My ex-husband ask me to paint him a picture of some ducks for a wedding present. The first painting was of Wood ducks - he told me he didn't like wood ducks, he wanted Mallards. So I painted (what I thought) was a beautiful painting of mallards in flight over a pond in winter. He thought it was lacking detail. See his mother also painted, so he compared my work with hers. I was hurt and he never received a piece of art from me as long as we were married. But he did motive me to paint better. That was 10 years ago, and I will admitted I have improve allot.:clap:

05-28-2003, 02:10 PM
I'm one of these people that are really sensitive to what other people would like to receive as a gift so I always grit my teeth when a guy complains, "I just never know what to get my wife". I want to say, "Well, you've been married for ten years, you mean you haven't figured out yet what she likes? Thats some special marriage bond you've got there then :rolleyes: "

I try toseparate gift giving from getting an audience for mywork. As artists, we need an audience, but if I just want to give someone something they'll appreciate, I don't have to make it myself. If I just want appreciation, I post on Wetcanvas, show someone I know who likes the kind of work I do :) or post it on my walls and just invite people over.

The first artwork I gave to someone was when I was showing my artwork to a trusted friend and he asked me if he could have a drawing I was going to throw out. It made me feel good. No actually that was the third piece of artwork I gave. The first I gave to my father I did want some appreciation. He said he'd treasure it for always but later I found it in a book. I didn't care because I didn't much like the piece either after awhile.

The second artwork I gave (again to my father) was a watercolor of a bird I did for one of the artists projects. He's a bird fanatic and he knows the name of almost all the songbirds in the US but he didn't have anything for the Harris Hawk that one of the projects had for a picture. I knew as a bird lover that picture would get him going looking up all the things he could find out about Harris Hawks. Imagine a bird he didn't know anything about! I also gave it to him matted in a frame which I didn't do for the first one, so he didn't have to think of how to display it. That one is still prominently displayed and imho its not too good but its a Harris Hawk and he loves it but I'm a little embarassed every time I see it.

Oh a couple of gifts I forgot were to my Mom. The first was a terrible floral watercolor. Like a good mom she oooh and aaaahed. It's buried somewhere in the house :) and I'm glad. The second card was a cartoon like-watercolor of froggies. She really enjoyed that one, not so much because of my talent but because she likes froggies and we had often talked about doing a childrens book together. It was in a cartoon-y type style.

More craft type gifts I've given are handmade bracelets for my nieces. One loved it; the other didn't - I think because the first niece has my coloring and body shape so I must have unknowingly designed the bracelets with myself in mind.

Now writing this, I realize that I've given a lot more gifts than I realized with mainly my family members as the victims. :) Oddly enough, I realize now that the act of creating a gift that would be truly appreciated has encouraged me to try new mediums, or subjects, that I wouldn't have otherwise so it has made me grow as an artist. :)

05-28-2003, 02:18 PM
Originally posted by christieplano
My ex-husband ask me to paint him a picture of some ducks for a wedding present. The first painting was of Wood ducks - he told me he didn't like wood ducks, he wanted Mallards. So I painted (what I thought) was a beautiful painting of mallards in flight over a pond in winter. He thought it was lacking detail.


Welcome to Wetcanvas!

I had to smile when I read this. I don't think I would have had the courage to paint my father a bird he really knew something about. Those bird lovers can be anal retentive sometimes. And I know I wouldn't have had the courage to paint for someone that has an established artist as a parent. whew, talk about pressure!

You're brave! I'm glad you made the best of the experience.