I paint as a hobby. Made few hi-bye friends at office because of this. I would be happy to give my painting to someone who truly appreciates it from the bottom of their heart.

Usually when a painting is done, it stays in a box in a closet at home. It is 14 by 11 inches in a paper frame (called matting) of 20 by 16 inches.

If it's relevant, the people who express most appreciation are from India and have been in USA for 10 to 15 years (they are usually shy and indirect, especially older generation), hence I added the India tag.

1st scenario

I finished painting with religious overtones and emailed to a group of people at work. One lady (roughly in 50s) asked me if the painting is here in the office. Does this necessarily mean she would love to keep the painting? I would be happy to give it to her. On the other hand, I don't want to unnecessarily burden someone with an extra possession if they really don't want it.

2nd scenario

Another lady (roughly 30s) asked what do I do with painting after I have finished them. Another time, this same lady showed me an old religious photo. I may consider painting this in future. Would it be a good idea to give it to her?

In other words, how do I tell whether someone would like to have my finished painting, without imposing a gift on them? I wish I could use painting as a way of making friends.

  • 15
    Have you considered simply asking "Hey, do you want this painting?" or is there a reason you think that won't go over well?
    – Erik
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:52
  • 5
    @Erik What if I say, "hey do you want this painting", and they really don't want it, but take it to spare my feelings? Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:53
  • 3
    @ArtieLadie Is this a problem to you? It's unlikely that you give her several paintings, isn't it? So is it a problem that she may try to spare your feelings only once?
    – avazula
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:57
  • 2
    Yeah, it's unfortunately very hard to figure out what they really want if they are willing to lie to you about it...
    – Erik
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 15:02
  • 3
    What is a "hi-bye friend"?
    – Wildcard
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 22:26

8 Answers 8


(Disclaimer, I am not very familiar with Indian culture but I am a native US person who also likes to do art as a hobby.)

For people I don't know well, I try to have a short conversation to gauge their interest before offering - why do they like this particular piece? Make sure to do it in a friendly way rather than an interrogation, of course! I usually go for some mild self-deprecation ("I was experimenting with a new style here, you think it works?") or "artist's notes" commentary ("I was trying to capture the emotions of blah blah"), but say whatever feels natural for you. You could also ask about other art or artists they like, and if they have any in their house already, to get an idea of how "serious" they are.

If they just complimented it as a passing fancy, I find the conversation is usually short or quickly veers towards other subjects. If they went out of their way to talk to me about my art, it's much more likely they would be interested.

Now for if you've decided you'd like to give it away:

If you are worried about them accepting a gift out of politeness, make your offer in a very unassuming way. Give them an easy "out", so that they don't feel put on the spot to make a decision. This could be a graceful way to exit the conversation or a plausible excuse for declining, which would allow them to save face if they weren't that interested.

For example, instead of:

Them: What a lovely painting!
You: Thank you! Would you like it?

you could say something like,

Thank you! I am always making more, so if you ever see anything you'd like to have on your walls let me know!

This takes the pressure off for this particular painting, and they can easily say "yes, of course!" and never mention it again - but if they would like it, you just gave them an invitation to ask.

Also, if you are worried that they are too shy to ask for a painting, you can frame this as doing you a favor. For example, you could mention that you would like to free up space, or that you could always use suggestions for what to paint next.

In the case of the lady showing you a photo, there's nothing wrong with asking directly before you start:

I really love that picture you showed me earlier, and was thinking about painting it - if I did, would you like it?

If you asked after painting it, she might feel obligated to accept after you put time into the project, so it is much better to make the offer when it is simply an idea with no investment.

  • 1
    Brilliant! I shall ask before I paint. Absolutely brilliant! Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 12:34

My grandmother has been painting for several years now and therefore has a lot of paintings that, as you, she is willing to give to the people that really appreciate them. I will tell you how she does and maybe it suits you.

First, she shows the people her painting -as you did- and if someone shows especial interest on it she asks them if they like it or if they like paintings in general. If they like them, she tells them that if they want she could make a painting for them or even give the one they are admiring. As painting is a hobby for you so I don't think that painting something in particular will be annoying for you, right?

For example you could say something like:

I am glad you liked my painting. If you want next time I can paint one for you as I enjoy painting a lot.

Like this you are opening them the possibility to have one and also you can know if it will be imposing it to them. If they agree or show interest you could suggest them that it won't be a problem to you if they wish to keep the currently one. You could even try it out with the lady that showed you that old religious photo saying you are thinking to paint it so you can offer her in first place.

You also said you would like to use paintings as a way of making friends. I assume friends with your co-workers? If yes maybe you could organize some kind of exhibition at your place and invite those who have shown more interested. Also there you could find out if they would like to keep a specific one they liked. If you are ok with friends not being co-workers and if you have free time you could join painting lessons where you could both improve your skills and meet new people.


I read your post How to politely decline painting requests from co-workers? so I figured out that painting any subject won't be an option to you. You could say then the same as above but if they agreed you can show them some pictures/photos you would like to paint and tell them to choose one of them.

  • Yes, the co-workers are my acquaintances. And I love idea of art exhibit. Perhaps one day I can do this. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 16:57

One lady (roughly in 50s) asked me if the painting is here in the office. Does this necessarily mean she would love to keep the painting?

I think there's no way to tell for sure. I think she might be interested to see the painting in detail, but this does not give a clear indication that she wants to take it for sure. Plus, many people would be shy to ask to have it, since you seem to invest a lot of time / energy / money in your paintings.

About how to indicate to your colleagues that you're open to give them your creations, why wouldn't you:

Use your e-mail

You've said that you shared your most recent creation with some of your colleagues. Why not using it to indicate to them that you'd be happy to give it if someone is interested? This clearly indicates to your colleagues your position, so they won't be shy to ask for it if they want it, and it'll spare you the energy to try to guess if they're interested in it. If they are several people interested, make them know and tell them you've got others (since I understand that you're willing to give several of your paintings).

Otherwise, you could use a post-it, placed near your current creation, saying

I'd be happy to offer it when over!

but the drawback of this method is that the post-it would be visible by all your colleagues, and you may not want to offer the possibility of giving your paintings to all of them.


Don't make it a gift, offer to sell it for charity.

Whilst I fully understand that you are very happy to give away your paintings to people who'd love them (I'd do the same), there is a funny bit of psychology that might help here.

When blind people request a seeing eye dog, it's normally assumed they are free, but it's not the case. They are charged £1 (Sorry, brit here). This is to change the idea of the dog from that of a gift on loan, to something they purchased and now are the responsible owner of.

This logic might apply quite well to your situation as well. Trying to judge how much someone likes your painting, and whether or not they feel pressured into accepting the offer solely because it's an offered gift is quite difficult.

However, if you say something along the lines of:

If anyone see's something they love, all my paintings are $10 each, with proceeds going to my favourite chairty, the RNIB (link).

This is a great change, because it accomplishes three things:

  • Let's people decide themselves how much they value your art, using a clear value you both understand.

  • Removes the whole problem of it being a gift. It makes it something they 'own' and as such value higher.

  • Raises a bit of money for charity.

Obviously the price and chairty are up to you to pick. Just thought I'd add another option to the answers here.


When I'm offering someone a choice and I don't want them to feel pressured in either direction, I try to emphasize that both options are acceptable, and provide them with free excuses for whichever side they might choose. For example:

"If you're interested, I would love to offer you a painting for your home, either this or another one. It makes me very happy to feel that my art is appreciated -- I have plenty of it in my own home already! But I know that space can be tight and not everybody has room for new artwork on the wall, so of course I understand if that's the case."

Now you've given them a reason to accept (that it shows appreciation for your artwork), but also a reason to decline (that they don't have space for it.) This emphasizes that either option is okay, to reduce pressure on them regardless of which option they would feel pressured to take (being afraid the offer is not genuine and must be rejected, or being afraid to offend the artist and so the offer must be accepted.)


The comments you mention could mean almost anything, as far as what the person is thinking. I have known numerous east Indians, and almost all of them do especially like colorful, religious art.

I would ask, "Is this something you would like to hang on your wall? As an artist I want my work to be appreciated." Any lukewarm response would indicate lack of interest.

Asking acquaintances to make a comment on your art will almost always elicit a positive response, because they realize that art is an expression of the artist; something personal. You may not get an honest answer.

For your own protection, depending on how well you accept rejection, I would tread carefully when evaluating whether to offer a gift so intimate. The deepest human drive is to create beauty.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Having one's own creation rejected can be devastating, so much so that many cannot persevere beyond it, so they stop creating. If you know your work is good, then it is!

People also tend to value what they work for. If you give away your work, it might be less valued for that reason. I have a friend who is a hobby painter, and among his work are some paintings I'd be proud to own. But he hasn't offered.

So, if you can take the possible rejection, you can pursue your course to seek recipients for your paintings. And I might punctuate the answer by saying that art grows on a person when they see it every day. Even if your friend isn't head over heels now, (s)he may grow to deeply love the work.

  • I'll tread carefully with giving away work so freely. Hence, I have to gauge how genuinely interested person is in artwork. And thank you for the last bit, i.e. art grows on a person. Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 12:31

I would say something like "I paint because I like making things. Let me know if you know anyone who would want one; I'd love for it to end up in a home where it would be appreciated."

This gives the person a chance to give a face-saving refusal like "Oh, that's nice, but I don't know where to put it" or "I do like it, but the colors aren't right for my house". If the person says this, don't offer to make another one to their specifications, unless they actually say something like "If you made me one half the size, I'd love to put it in my living room". Just let their answer stand as a polite "no".

And no, someone who asks if the painting is in your office likely does not want to take it home. They might want to examine the real thing more closely, or, if the painting is religious, they might be trying to gauge if you are the kind of employee who will plaster their religious beliefs all over a workplace.


I am from India and yes , many people here like to have religious paintings for their houses .Most people have at least one religious painting in their houses and many people even worship paintings of Deities .

As for this scenario :

One lady (roughly in 50s) asked me if the painting is here in the office. Does this necessarily mean she would love to keep the painting?

I guess she just wanted to have just a look , as some of the answers suggested ,and i think you should talk to her more to get to know if she truly wants it.

As for the second scenario

:Another lady (roughly 30s) asked what do I do with painting after I have finished them. Another time, this same lady showed me an old religious photo. I may consider painting this in future. Would it be a good idea to give it to her?

I think it would be a nice idea to give it to her as a gift . I think she would really appreciate it.

And as you said earlier :

If it's relevant, the people who express most appreciation are from India and have been in USA for 10 to 15 years (they are usually shy and indirect, especially older generation), hence I added the India tag.

Indian etiquette is quite different from yours and most people find it confusing as to how they should reply if you ask something to them . So a typical Indian reply would be :"No,No,No..That's okay".And you can't easily judge whether they really meant no or they are just simply shy.

So the best way that you could give it to them would be on a special occasion such as a festival.You could perhaps add that you thought that your painting could be a nice present on that occasion . (Just expect a lot of Indian sweets in return ,If the person is a typical Indian that is :) )


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