Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
How Do I Tactfully Tell My Artist Friend That I Took Down Her Painting?
Q. A year ago, an artist friend gave me one of her paintings. It has hung in my living room ever since, but now I’d like to
take it down. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. What should I do?
A. This is a touchy one. Your friend is an artist, so her professional pride will be on the line. And you don’t want to look as if you are disparaging her talent or her taste level. Consider these two approaches.
If you like the painting but tend to rotate the art on your walls from time to time so you don’t tire of it, share that information with your friend. When the picture reappears at a later date, be sure to point that out to her, too.
However, if you displayed the painting solely out of friendship and now want to deaccession it permanently, follow these steps. First, shift the painting from the living room to a less prominent place—a spare bedroom or a hallway—and tactfully mention this to your friend by saying you made the move because “the light was better” or, conversely, “to protect it from the sun.”
In an out-of-the-way spot, the painting will no longer confront you every time you walk into the house; you may decide it can stay there. If it still bothers you, give it a few months in that spot, then take it down. If your friend asks where it is, you can say you are having it professionally cleaned. By this point, you will have dropped more than enough polite hints to discourage further queries, so with luck she’ll let the matter go.
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