The Tale of an Aging Artist’s Weekend Hangover

It’s still technically Monday morning as I write this excruciating tale – food for thought on the life of a rapidly aging artist type old lady. I am feeling wobbly, unbalanced, bruised and stressed. I guess it’s my old lady weekend hangover.

This tale will cover the following tragic elements:

1.  Recusal from jury duty

2.  An art scam

3.  A bloody fall

4.  A bruised ego

5.  The denouement: A Stunning Realization

Can you handle it? If not, leave this page now.

This Morning, Mon. 11:14 am – I woke in my bed with my head on a toweled pillow to catch any stray blood oozing in the night, and panicked that my cats may have been breathing their fowl breath on my head in the night. But oddly, the two were curled innocently on the other side of my queen size bed as if in unison, same pose, both facing the same direction. Snoozing.

According to my current retirement habit, I lay in bed for another hour pondering the universe, then one cat came over to breathe on my head from her bacteria laden mouth. So I got up, split a can of Fancy Feast between them, adding a subversive supplement called “Plaque Control” which is supposed to sweeten their breath. I still am not sure there has been any change however. After their food had been scarfed down in a mere 2 minutes, they remained at bowl side, begging not silently for the next course. The black and white one does the bitching, the half Siamese one waits patiently. This time I decline to be roped into giving them the crunchy morsels of dry food they expect is their right. The vet has told me the dry food makes them fat.

I walk away. To the computer. To describe my harrowing weekend.

Cat Breakfast

Cat Breakfasts involve two courses: wet and dry food. Do NOT forget the dry…

Friday – Perhaps it all started on Friday night. All week I had been on “call-in” jury duty. I was to call again after 4:30 pm. I called about 6:00. No need to come in and I was recused for a year. I had mixed feelings about that. As a hermit artist I had secretly been hoping I would need to go in at some point to the civil courts in San Francisco, not far from where I live. I had fantasized about being stuck in a room (jury pool) filled with human beings. Maybe I would even have occasion to talk to some of them. Maybe I would actually get picked for a jury and have the opportunity to put my legal skills to the test. But no, recused. But that was ok too, I would not need to leave my “comfort zone.” Just carry on. I was not needed, nothing new.

Saturday

About mid-day I checked my email. Lo and Behold (or Hallelujah?) I had an inquiry sent from my little art gallery website email at bonniefollett.com, from someone wanting to buy art for their wife who “loves your work” – now that alone should have been a tip-off, but we artists can always hope that someone somewhere will find our work online and actually like it enough to buy it. So it put me into something of a panic mode. They wanted to know which pieces were immediately available for purchase. I didn’t know. Some of my originals are in San Francisco but many or most are in my Arizona house. So this inquiry alone set me to updating my art logs and investigating what was where and that took hours. I finally decided to write this man a confirmation email that I would get back to him in the morning on Sunday, with a list of available work, and stating that some artworks were in Arizona and might take longer to get shipped. Then I went back to continue honing down what was where and how much I would actually want to charge for each original painting.

Sunday

I had another email waiting from “John Owen”, email address johnowen1000010000@gmail.com, in response to my last email.  No – no, he didn’t need to know everything available. He was in a great hurry and only needed to know what could be immediately shipped to be gifted as a surprise to his art-loving wife, therefore only my pieces with me in San Francisco were of interest to him. That was a relief, and by then I was able to send him a list of each piece available and prices, also providing a link to the pages on my website where there were images of each original displayed.

I then panicked again, not knowing which of the 7 pieces I had emailed him he might want to purchase. I knew I had to fully clean each of these 7 artworks. Most are tucked away collecting dust and grime after many years of neglect. The others were on my walls and very nicotine stained from a crazed artist smoking too much too often. So I set about first with cleaning the two watercolors which were framed under glass, taking apart the frame and meticulously cleaning everything associated with the potential sale.

While doing so I realized it was about time I did this cleaning task. How unprofessional of me not to be prepared for legitimate buyers of my art. And I decided to take new camera raw photos of my work if any were going to end up elsewhere. So I scrolled up my window blinds to get the best light possible, set up my tripod, and set about photographing the watercolors, first on iPhone (in the current framing) and then out of the frames to get the full CR photos for my records. By the time I got done and put the watercolors back in their new and shiny framing for potential sale, I was wiped out and took a break before I started in on cleaning the larger acrylic paintings with dust and nicotine stains. I finally decided I would wait until after I cooked and ate my dinner, since I had not eaten anything but peanut butter, crackers and coffee all day.

It was starting to get dark, so I knew I would do no more photographing that day. I started to let down my window blinds to the level where I usually keep them. In doing so there was one in the middle of the 3 windows where the blind slices at top were funky. Being somewhat anal, I cannot let this go.

The Fall

I quickly get up on a wooden chair and lean in to snatch that ugly stray twisted blind…

As my weight shifts, the chair flips violently out from under me, sending me flying backwards into a very cluttered space. I feel myself flying, then the jar of hitting my head on something sharp, then I am on the ground battered and bruised. I know enough to remain for a few moments to catch my bearings. When I do so, I notice blood gushing everywhere! Uh… blind panic!!!! This is why people have “life alerts” right? Not me, I’m still too young! So realizing my blood was getting all over my ONE nice oriental carpet, I try to gather myself up to find something to catch up all the blood. I trail blood all over my apartment not knowing what to use. What do I not care about getting blood on???? I decided on a towel and go to my bathroom (while dripping blood on the floors) where I have been using a conveniently shaded burgundy red bath towel. I still felt alert even though panicked. Should I call someone just in case I later lose consciousness???

I decide yes, so I call a friend who lives across the San Francisco Bay. I let him know what’s going on. He urges me to go down the street to Emergency at the local hospital. Good idea. I’m pretty sure by this time I do not have the medical knowledge to figure out how bad things might be. And well, I have seen lots of TV shows where someone is pushed and hits their head on a stone fireplace and then soon after they’ve passed out and died, and Jessica Fletcher (of Murder She Wrote) later comes in to the scene to realize that the police have it all wrong. I could be that dead person… not impossible, even though at the moment I seemed to be conscious.

So I tell my friend I will call him in an hour or so from the hospital. Naturally, since I am a hermit artist type, at 7:15 pm I am still in my pajamas from the previous night. So I have to try to clean up a little, get dressed, and then I noticed all the blood in the bathroom. I did not want my cats to get into that, or put blood paw prints everywhere, so I quickly tried to wipe some of that up while holding a towel to my very bloody head.

But I make it out the door and down the street as other pedestrians wondered why I was holding a bloody towel to my head. No one asked though. By the time I was at the ER in the hospital 3 blocks away I realized I had forgotten to take my phone, which was charging on my bed stand. My friend had told me he would drive over from across the Bay if he didn’t hear from me in an hour. Oh well… nothing I could do once at the hospital. I got checked in and sat by an older lady and started a conversation. She had suffered a black stool earlier and had gone to the ER to get herself checked out. She did not seem aware of my bloody head, she instead told me all about her stools. She was done and waiting for a cab. As she hobbled away slowly for the cab now waiting outside for her, I realized that could be me in a few years. In fact, maybe it was me now.

The Sunday Night Exam and Treatment – I think I’ll spare you some of the details. Suffice it to say, the staff was very attentive in their routine professional way. They took my blood pressure, a few details for the chart, and then sent me off to an exam room for treatment. A lot of waiting and staring at the curtains on the glass wall… and periodically someone coming in with a “poor dear” or “how’s the pain”. I had already told them there was no major pain (maybe a 3 on a scale of 10), just a lot of stinging. I am not much of a cry baby about pain until it hits up there a few notches. This wasn’t considered bad by my standards. I realized I do look like an old lady and they were trying to be nice. I was ok with that. They don’t know I am a bad ass.

The highlight for me was getting a gurney ride down the cavernous hallways to get a CT scan. I was impressed with the skill of the gurney driver, dodging all that stuff in the hallways. And I felt like a star on a TV show enroute to the operating room after a gunshot wound. The CT was whoosh whoosh whoosh – and then back to the room again. Eventually, a young female doctor (or tech?) prepped me for the stitches in my head. “This is gonna hurt!” But it hardly hurt much at all, just more like sharp pinching and stinging. I had a three inch laceration and got 8 staples in the head.

Before I was to be released they came in with a narc type pill for my pain. I told them I was walking home and could I take the pill once I got home and might actually start feeling pain? They said No, you have to take it here or not at all. I told them no, I would skip it, but was marveling at how easily they want to dole out pain drugs like this. And I wondered if that would be charged for on my bill, even though I didn’t take it. I am a cheap bitch, what do they charge for one pill anyway? I’ve heard: more than they should.

Head Injury Documentation

At home after treatment: Dazed and confused, bloody hair and head staples.

Back at Home – I should have probably gone to bed right away since it was after 11:00 pm, but of course, being a hermit artist, I am not glued to schedules. And I still had amazingly blood-matted hair, every which way and that, all very curly and encrusted. So I took a bath and enjoyed the rusty brown glow of the waters. I dried off and went back to the computer.

On the computer I decided I needed to work up a Certificate of Authenticity for the upcoming art purchase from ”John Owen” in “North Carolina”. So I research what to include, and started drafting my own Certificate – that of course I can use on all my many future art sales once Mr. Owen’s wife brags to her rich friends about the great artist she found online. Such a certificate helps with establishing the provenance of the artworks of any great artist like myself. So yeah, I get that going at 1:00 am with eight staples in my head.

Then I decide to check my email since John Owen always seems to write at a certain time of night. So yes, there was the expected email waiting for me, sent just a few minutes before.

The Last Email from the Purported Art Purchaser

After the first two somewhat legitimate sounding emails, suddenly things seem to have become very complicated with the art purchaser. I had told him shipping costs would be added to any purchase price once I got an estimate from my shipping service. But No, it wasn’t necessary for me to worry about arranging shipping. He would have his own shipper pick up the artwork at my address. And he was suddenly moving to the Philippines for his job, and he would therefore send a check in advance, and blah-de-blah-de-blah. By this time, yeah, I know. Not real. But I searched for “art purchase scams” online and got a whole slew of artists with the same experience or worse. (see links below for more info) In my defense, I had searched this guy’s email address and name online when he first wrote me. Nothing much there at first check. So I had thought maybe he was for real. But No, of course not. Another scammer with a fake name.  It was a psychic let down. Really? No one had actually liked my work after all? (How do these scams work? – They send you a check for more than the purchase price, ask for a check back from you for the mistake made and steal your artwork that they can apparently sell somewhere (at a flea market maybe)? Meanwhile gathering as much personal information about you as they can, that they can also sell off to unscrupulous beings.

certificate-illustration-bfSo I was freed before going any farther with falling for this art purchase scheme. I am still wondering whether I should write him back and give him a line of bull like he gave me. Not sure, but I am still composing that in my head. Most people recommend once you know it is a scam, drop all contact. But I think now that we’ve established a relationship, he might be interested in knowing that I was in a freak car accident and had to suddenly move to Venezuela or Nigeria (or someplace exotic) where my only living relative is and where they can care for me in my extended convalescence. Therefore I can’t have that painting available for immediate pickup. But part of me wants to get that big check too, so that I can frame it and put it on my wall.

So that was my weekend. And now it’s Monday. I am freed from having to do any more stressing about getting an artwork prepared for a purchaser or convincing them to use my PayPal account for payment. I would never had sent them anything before any payment was fully completed. But my advice for other artists is – BEWARE! Our fragile egos really want to believe that someone out there really does like our artwork!! And that someone would be willing to actually buy it! I sure did!! It was beginning to rejuvenate my faith that maybe I could actually sell my art after all. And maybe I should get back to doing more original on canvas or watercolor paintings. (I have concentrated more on photography in recent years.)

As long as I didn’t fall for the scam, the scammer did me one favor. He/she got me to thinking more professionally about the status of my personal artwork and on what I could be doing with my art. Sort of a “clean up your act” moment for me.

I think I promised a “Stunning Realization” above in regards to my Monday morning old lady wild weekend hangover. Hmmmm, maybe I stretched the truth about that, but there is that thing just mentioned about becoming more professional and doing more original paintings. Hermit artists (and I suspect there are many others like me out there) tend to find a “comfort zone” in being unsuccessful. It becomes your routine. And that IS my artistic comfort zone after a few years of only making very small commissions when my artwork is printed on products at fineartamerica or pixels or redbubble, etc. You don’t make a living on it. It seems you are lucky if you get anything at all for the many hours you spend on it. So I do need to adjust my comfort zone or at least be aware of it and that I could change what that comfort zone is for me. I guess that’s a realization.

Another realization – I was really lucky not to have had my “fall and damage head“ accident before my medicare and supplemental insurance had kicked in. Something as simple as getting stitches in my head could really have set me back financially. I’m not terribly old, but old enough to realize the aging process is speeding up rapidly. So it’s past time to be extra careful when getting up on chairs or ladders… I am not as balanced or aware of my body as I used to be. But is it “Life Alert” time? I don’t know about that. I fell, but I COULD get up…

As I sat in my ER exam room last night I also realized that this – that a “visit to the ER” is entertainment for lonely old ladies. Hurt yourself and go to the ER and get some attention and human contact. Cool! A new idea of FUN emerges as you get older and older, and older and older…, and older…. and fffttttt!!!!! You are gone.

Maybe a new dimension follows, one where people really do like your art and value something about you. Who knows?

More info on Art Scams:

Don’t be Fooled by Email Art Scams: How to Spot and Avoid Fraud

How To Recognize An Art Scam

 

 

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4 thoughts on “The Tale of an Aging Artist’s Weekend Hangover

  1. Hi Bonnie,
    Got a good laugh this morning when I found your site. I was searching for johnowen1000010000@gmail.com hoping to confirm my suspicions that he was a scam artist. Recently, another artist was telling me about several large sales he made off his website, so I was thinking that maybe I shouldn’t assume that all these request were fake. I wouldn’t have gotten far with “john” because his email smacks of all the cliche words and phrases from what must be the “art scammers handbook”. I am delighted to read how you wasted so much of your scammers time. If I had more time, I would do the same. Well done!
    I do hope your head is recovering, and that you have an easy going few weeks ahead.
    Joanne Licsko.

    Like

    • Thanks for your comments Joanne! You are the second person in a week to have contacted me about this fake art purchaser John Owen. I had searched his name and email when I first heard from him but didn’t find him on the other scammer lists – they use lots and lots of different names. But the “wife who loves your art” is a constant theme. – Yes my head is recovering – I got my staples out yesterday and feel a lot less like Mrs. Frankenstein today!!! And I did sell an art print last week on FAA – my commissions are fairly unimpressive but at least they are REAL!!

      Like

  2. Pingback: A Little on the Bane of Art Scams – bonniefollett.com art gallery

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