Easy Tips and Tricks for Gifting a Painting That’ll Blow Their Mind!

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Investigation is the Key to Painting an Artwork Present They’ll Absolutely Love

So, you’re thinking of gifting a painting but you’re not sure just exactly how to choose the right one to make. Today, we’ll talk about the big questions you need to ask to brainstorm a list of ideas for the painting’s main focus, as well as the absolute dos and don’ts of giving art as a gift.

The secret to creating a painting that will wow them is all about the detective work you do before beginning the art project. If you don’t do your homework up front, you run the risk of the receiver reacting in a way that’s not exactly what you were shooting for.

Don’t stress about it, though. With the brainstorming questions, tips, and suggestions, based on my years of being a personal shopper in an art gallery, you’ll knock it out of the ballpark! Let’s get this party started!

Why You Should Give Your Art as a Gift

Giving art as a gift is a wonderful way to show somebody just how special they are to you. If you’re like me, each gift you choose is done with forethought and care no matter where it comes from but giving someone something that you’ve put your heart, soul, and time into, ups the ante big time. Plus, you never have to worry that someone else is going to give them the same thing!

Give Yourself Tons of Time to Prepare and Paint a Gift

The very first thing you need to think about is your money and time budget. If you’ve painted before you know that it’s going to take you a minute to plan your course of action and to actually get the gift painted.

You’ll also need to make a list of supplies and give yourself enough time to get to the nearest art supply store to pick up whatever you don’t already have.

Real Talk: We all know that a trip to the art store is going to take time. Lots and lots of time, am I right?

7 Questions To Help You Plan What To Paint As A Present

The biggest mistake I see beginners make, when gifting a painting, is they’ll see a tutorial or reference image, that seems perfect for the occasion when the focus should really be on the receiver. If you always keep the person you’re giving the painting to in the forefront of your mind, you have a great chance of painting something they’ll enjoy long after the special event has passed.

If you really want to knock their socks off, try to answer as many of the following questions as you can and make notes. Once you’ve finished this brainstorming session, you’ll have a whole list of options that will make a piece of wall art that’s filled with meaning and worthy of gifting!

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Question #1: What is their home decor style?

If you could characterize their decorating style, how would you describe it? Make a list of what stands out to you. Think about what kind of furniture they have, what kind of trinkets do they have, is the living space very streamlined and minimalistic, or is it more eclectic?

The more you can dissect what the person chooses to surround themselves with, the easier it will be to paint something that they’ll appreciate and will have no trouble finding a spot to hang it.

To get you started, if the person you’re gifting a painting to has frilly lace curtains, lots of dried flowers, and the overall style is feminine and muted, it wouldn’t be a good idea to paint an abstract cityscape with bright primary colors, right?

Take your cues from what they already have and you’ll be well on your way to creating a painting that they’ll instantly love.

Question # 2: What other art do they have on their walls?

This goes with the first question and you’ll want to make a list that describes any other art that they already have hung in their home. Are they colorful? Are they landscapes? Are they ocean scenes? Are they abstract? Are they all by the same artist? Whatever you can make a note of will make it easier for you to decide what the focus should be when gifting a painting.

But, what do you do if they don’t have any art on their walls? Don’t worry! This just means that answering the other questions listed will be even more important. The whole point here is to create a list of choices for you so not being able to answer all of the questions isn’t a big deal.

Question #3: What’s their favorite color?

You can absolutely base an entire painting on their favorite color. In this case, your main focus will be adding color to the painting in a way that draws the eye to it. So, maybe you’ll paint a flower where the background is painted in muted colors so that the flower, that’s painted in the main color, really pops.

Once you’ve decided what to use as the main color, be sure to check out my article explaining the color wheel and how to choose other colors that will compliment the main color.

Extra Tip: Make sure that you’re using the color that is most prominent in their home décor and not a color that you see them wearing often. The two are very rarely the same. I love wearing pink but the main pop of color in my home décor is red. If someone were gifting me a painting that was heavy on the color pink, I’d have a hard time making it fit in with what I already have. Make sense?

Question # 4: Do you know what their favorite flower is?

What is better than giving someone a bouquet of their favorite flowers where they don’t have to water them and they’ll never die! It’s a very easy way to incorporate something that they love and florals are a very popular option.

Question #5: What about hobbies or interests?

Do they like to golf? Are they into sailing? Maybe they’re into antiquing and flea markets. All of these little tidbits are going to help you to create a painting that will make them feel special and, really, that is the whole goal. Every time they look at the painting it will give them a positive feeling or remind them of good times.

Question #6: Do they have a favorite place?

Another idea is to paint a landscape from a meaningful place. Maybe it’s the place where your person and their significant other were engaged, maybe it’s a place that they used to live that they miss a lot, it could even be a favorite place that they like to visit when they’re on vacation. Again, when gifting a painting, the focus should be on something that is customized to the recipient.

Question #7: What’s their favorite season?

Seasons are pretty easy to paint because there are a ton of YouTube painting tutorials that you could follow. Just type “acrylic painting tutorial *insert season*” and you will have like a gazillion options to choose from. For instance, you could paint a scarecrow to represent the fall, a cherry blossom for spring, an ocean sunset would make a gorgeous summer painting, and a snowy forest with an icy lake would be perfect for winter.

Two hands making the thumbs up and thumbs down sign to represent the dos and don'ts of gifting a painting.

7 Tips for Gifting a Painting

For over a decade, I worked as the manager at a high-end art gallery and gift store. One of my favorite jobs was to act as a personal shopper for clients who were overwhelmed by the thought of choosing just the right gift.

I mean, let’s face it, no one wants to give a gift that will end up shoved in the far reaches of a closet or, even worse, regifted!

By asking people the questions listed above, and following the tips below, I had a pretty good success rate but, most importantly, my clients left feeling happy and confident in their gift choice.

Even if only a few of these tips apply to you, I think they’ll give you a feeling of relief and confidence that gifting a painting is the right decision. There’s no better way to show the receiver of your masterpiece just how much they mean to you.

Tip One: Neutrals are Always a Safe Bet

Neutral colors, neutral subject matter; don’t get too specific, especially when you don’t know the person very well.

When I was working at the art gallery, the most common clientele I would work with were people who had a special event to attend but they didn’t know the host(s) very well. In this case, I would always suggest they go with something that was made from natural materials or showcased neutral colors.

When the focus is on neutral colors and even nature, it’s much easier to make it blend in with other things that may share the same space.

Tip Two: Think Twice Before Gifting a Portrait Painting

Whatever you do, don’t gift a portrait painting. Trust me on this one. Whether you’re painting a person or a pet, that’s getting into really personal territory.

I don’t mean to say you shouldn’t get personal but a portrait hits closer to the heart so people tend to be quite picky, and rightly so.

Your artistic eye is almost like a unique fingerprint. That being said, the lines and curves that make up the features of the person/pet are always going to be seen through your unique lens.

How you view things can be very different than how someone else views things. That can lead to disappointment from the receiver and you feeling badly about your skills as an artist.

So, stay clear of portraits unless somebody asks you to paint one. Then, you can have a very clear conversation with the person about allowing you to have a bit of creative license and explaining to them how people see things can differ greatly.

Tip Three: Don’t Get Too Literal When Choosing a Favorite Hobby to Paint as a Gift

Be very careful when choosing to base the painting on a hobby or something that they collect. So for instance, if someone collects antique dolls you wouldn’t necessarily want to paint an antique doll as a gift. If they don’t have other artwork that features dolls, it just wouldn’t be a good choice.

Instead, you could use the antique doll as your inspiration! So, if the doll has a beautiful lace dress, you could use that as the starting point and build the rest of the painting around it.

For example, maybe you would want to paint a lace covered table with a vase of antique roses, in soft pastel colors.

Tip Four: Add a Handwritten Note to an Art Present

You should always include a little note with the painting that you’re gifting. Tell the person why you chose to paint the subject, remind them of the connection that the painting creates between the person you’re gifting a painting to and the subject of the painting. Reminiscing over good times is always a fun time.

Tip Five: Giving Small Paintings As Gifts Can Be A Big Hit

Think about gifting a painting that’s on the smaller side. A smaller painting is actually easier for the receiver to find just the right spot to display it.

Larger paintings take more thought since wall space is like precious real estate for most people. Plus, art doesn’t have to be huge to be impressive. I have a trio of miniature watercolors that fit perfectly on a small wall and I couldn’t imagine hanging anything else in that space.

Tip Six: When to Paint Your Artwork Gift on Paper Instead of Canvas

If you’re painting a gift for someone who lives a distance away, and you know you’re going to have to ship it, your best bet is to paint on paper.

You can go ahead and mat and frame the painting or you could leave it as is and let your person frame it themselves once they have it.

Gifting a painting that allows the receiver to frame it themselves, gives them a way to bridge the gap between what they already have and the subject matter of your gift, in case you missed the mark on that.

Sometimes, having frames that go well together is all it takes to make any kind of art get along with the other pieces that are sharing the same space.

Also, painting on paper will make shipping costs more affordable. Just make sure to protect the paper well when wrapping it to ship. I like to sandwich my paper painting gifts between two pieces of parchment paper, then sandwich that between two rigid pieces of cardboard, and, finally, wrap it all in bubble wrap before boxing or putting it into an oversized envelope.

I have a whole article about creating paintings on paper if you’re interested in learning more.

Tip Seven: Painting Functional Art

If you know that your special someone doesn’t have room for a canvas painting gift, consider gifting them functional art!

A beautiful set of hand-painted mugs, a painted farmhouse sign coat rack, or even a painted clock (Pssst! Paint pouring techniques look especially epic on a clock face).

Functional art is the best of both worlds, you still get to play with paint and it’s a useful gift!

Bonus Tip: If you’re thinking of painting on mugs or glass, make sure to invest in a medium that’s meant to help acrylic paint adhere to non-porous surfaces. You can read more about glass medium on Liquitex’s website and they also have a video where you can see the glass medium in action.

Take Away: There’s No Better Way to Make Someone Feel Special Then to Give Them the Gift of Handmade Art

In the end, gifting a painting isn’t actually hard as long as you spend time preparing before painting. The most important thing is to focus on the person you’ll be giving the painting to.

To come up with a plan for what you’re going to paint, do some detective work and pay attention to the person’s hobbies, interests, or even their favorite color or flower. Stay away from portraits and include a note telling them what inspired you.

Most people are thrilled to receive something unique and made just for them. When you think about it, gifting a painting to someone allows them to see themselves through your eyes.

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