One of my best friends from college is a professional oil painter.
She loves painting.
In fact, the whole front room of her house is a dedicated painting studio.
Rachel spends her off-days looking at new paints for her collection and when she isn’t doing that, she’s going to museums looking at the work of other painters. When she isn’t doing either of those things, she’s working on her next gallery collection or finding and applying for her next residency appointment.
One day long ago, in an effort to support her work, I asked her to paint something for me.
You know, because she loved it and I also loved her work.
“Amanda, it’s not that easy. I can’t just paint something. A single tube of oil paint costs $18.00 and for the canvas size you want, that would be at least 15 tubes of paint. I would need to be reimbursed for the paint, at the very least. Not to mention the cost of a canvas that size - I’m not even sure I could buy it - I may have to build it myself. I’m also working on getting a gallery collection set up so my work can be seen by more people, so I'm not sure I have enough time right now.”
I’d asked for one of her feature paintings - a full, length, top to bottom, wall-sized painting. The kind that takes her a least a week to do.
I knew that’s what she loved doing most, so of course, that’s what I requested.
And by this time, I realized I’d made a huge mistake:
I asked for a free service from a friend without knowing the full cost, and in turn, I accidentally offended my friend.
In an effort to make it right, I then asked:
“Well, how much does a painting that size cost? How do you set the price on something like that?”
Further annoyed with my ignorance, she replies:
“You act like all that it takes is the time and the paint - as though I can charge an hourly rate and have that be that. Learning how to paint professionally, while I love it, has taken me years of training, work and study. When I set my rates, I account for all of the collective time, training and expertise investments it has taken me to learn how to even do that over the years. It’s not about how much time it takes in the present moment - it’s about my entire life. The painting you want has taken me my entire life to learn how to do.”
Rachel loved painting, that was true.
But it was also her life.
She had invested in herself the years of schooling, seeking and understanding of the art world, a process that had granted her the ability to paint professionally at the level that she was.
I wasn’t just asking a friend for a painting, I was asking a professional to temporarily devalue their work due to my ignorance of what it really takes.
what I did to Rachel all those years ago, happens to psychic mediums on the daily.
Psychic mediums are asked for free “paintings” all the time and expected to give them without question.
As someone who loves what I do, has a gift and is a practicing professional that has honed a skill after years of training, education, time, acquiring supplies and commitment, I finally get what Rachel was trying to say all those years ago.
For both psychic mediums and painters who love what they do and who practice at the professional level, it’s no longer just a hobby.
Whether we’re talking about a psychic reading or a painting, these are investments that take time, energy, supplies, education, focus, inspiration, and money - for the practitioner.
Readings Cost Money
Just like my painting would have cost my friend real dollar bills and real time to create (time and money that she could have been spending it working on a gallery collection to further her career) your reading also costs your psychic medium real money to provide - it’s not free for them.
To perform a professional reading, the medium has to provide:
- The space to perform your reading
- The utility bills to light and warm the space of your reading
- The internet connection and phone service required to set it up
- The training that it takes to go from spirit sensitive/hobbyist to professional psychic
- The tools, supplies, or relaxation materials needed to give clients the best experience
- The accounting, scheduling and administrative software required to keep everything running
Unfortunately, all of these things cost dollar bills.
The truth is this:
There’s a lot more that goes into all this than just love.
Your reading - just like my painting - isn’t really free.
And it’s really not appropriate to expect a free reading from anyone.
If I had really cared about Rachel's work and wanted to support it, I would have provided the cash dollars that was required to commission the work and to show her that I was serious about supporting and valuing her work.
Rachel already gives for free in so many ways.
And it's really not fair for anyone to expect her to just paint wall-sized gallery canvases for their loft apartment. . . because she enjoys it and she should want to do these kinds of things out of the goodness of her soft heart.
While Rachel has bills and goals just like all of us, Rachel still has a soft heart.
She chooses a way to give of her gifts that truly is helpful for the community. In between paintings, gallery showings and residencies, she works at an after school program for urban youth - teaching art.
This is how she choose to give of her gifts, when she does do it for free.
Likewise, Every psychic medium has a way they give back to the community.
It’s not always through free readings. Nor does it have to be.
Sometimes, when your medium gives, it's through education.
Sometimes, it’s simply a giving of their presence.
And that’s more than enough.