Q. I am an artist living in a small cottage. I also have a job in the city unrelated to my art. I paint when I get home from work, and I spend quite a bit of money on art materials.
Whenever my friend visits me, she is supportive of my art and says how beautiful it is; then she asks me if she can "have it."
I am astonished at the thought of going into someone else's home with paintings for sale, and asking to have something that belongs to the person who lives there. Obviously some people think that art is free, without any regard to the many hours and the large amount of money that went into it.
I just want her to know that no, if she has the money, she can have it; however, as my friend, she cannot expect me to give a painting to her for nothing (as I have done a few times before).
A. Your having given your friend a painting more than once weakens your case about her effrontery in asking for a particular one. The friend is still wrong, even brazenly so, but you seem to have abetted the idea that painting is a hobby of yours, and that since the pictures are intended as tokens of friendship, it is a help if she indicates which she likes best.
It is time to stop giving this particular friend such presents. Find something else to give her when the occasion arises. As for the occasions she creates, you need only say, "I'm glad you like it -- I'm hoping to get (whatever price you have set) for it."
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.