Over the years I’ve been the recipient of a number of beautiful art objects, but I don’t know what to do with some of them. I’m sure you are in the same predicament.
I’d like to offer some guidelines for selecting art gifts for people, and I’ll use some personal examples.
A few years ago, I received a one-of-a-kind glass suncatcher from a very special friend. I have a great love for wetland plants, birds, etc, so this heron was more than welcome to join my eclectic decor. The background is a pane of pebbly clear glass on which ground glass, beads, and tubes of glass have been arranged and then fired to form the picture. Therefore, not only does it have great colors, it has interesting textures too. The size is about 6x8 inches. This easily fit to hang in one of my office windows and I’ve enjoyed it every single day since then. It was purchased at an Art Fair in Oregon.
On the other hand, this same friend just sent me an oil painting on canvas of a heron that he purchased in China. It’s unframed, and the overall size is about 2x3 feet. It’s beautiful, but in the first place, I can’t afford to have it framed, and in the second place, I have no wall space where I can hang it. I want to appreciate the gift, but it’s really more than I can deal with.
I think that there are some basic guidelines that make sense when giving art gifts.
1. Does the gift really fit the person? The blue herons fit well with my love for wetlands. But I’ve received pictures that had no relation to my interests. I bet you have too.
2. Is the physical size of the gift appropriate? Most people don’t want a lot of large knick-knacks. It’s probably best to let friends or relatives pick out their own large-scale items. Ceramic fireplace dogs, large paintings (even if framed), unique furniture items such as occasional tables or chairs can create real problems. Some callous people will simply put the gift out of sight, but most folks don’t want to hurt their friends’ feelings, even though the gift is difficult to deal with.
3. Do you know the colors your friend likes for decor? Even if everything else is perfect, a large turquoise fish is not likely to be welcomed if her bathroom is pink and brown.
4. Will the gift create a safety hazard? A glass-topped coffee table probably won’t be a good gift for a family with small children even if you are sure the adults would love it.
5. Will the gift become problematic with any pets in the house? I once gave a friend an interesting (I thought) magnetic desk toy. It consisted of a pile of tiny painted metal diamonds which you could arrange to create “leaves” on a metal tree- just a way to doodle in 3-D. I asked her later how she liked it. She looked embarrassed and admitted that she had given it away. The problem was two Siamese cats who wouldn’t leave things with small interesting parts alone.
7. Finally, as with any gift giving, be sure that you are giving something the recipient will like, not just something that you like.
Some people seem to have the ability to always select great gifts. Others, not so much. If you are planning to give unique gifts be very careful. If they are not right, they often cannot be returned. In this case everyone loses- wasted cash, and hard or hurt feelings result instead of feelings of good will and satisfaction.
A little common sense can prevent all of these unpleasant results.