We have so much talent in the Supernatural fandom! Fans draw, edit photos and videos, write fan fics, create costumes or props, make jewelry and much more. It’s time to showcase the #SPNFamily’s talent and ask the people behind the creations some questions!
I´d like you to meet Paula, the woman behind Painting People, Painting Things (The Painting Business – I couldn’t resist). We talked about her awesome paintings, the Supernatural fandom, her work for IMAlive, animals and more.
Let´s start with the interview!
How and when did you got trapped in the Supernatural Fandom?
It was in July of 2015. I’d heard of Supernatural before from mentions on LiveJournal and of course it was on the fan fic sites, but I hadn’t jumped in yet. I’d just finished binge watching a series on Netflix with my teen and she suggested we try Supernatural.
I don’t like to be scared and don’t watch a lot of horror, so when we saw the pilot we were clutching each other throughout. Now, looking back, it’s funny but we were genuinely freaked out!
I loved X-Files when it aired in the 90s. Season 1 of Supernatural had such a huge X-Files vibe to it, it immediately felt like home, or almost like home. Close enough.
I think we watched 3 or 4 episodes almost immediately and it was the show to watch that July. But, when I saw “Croatoan”, something changed for me. Suddenly Supernatural wasn’t just a show to watch but it became THE show.
My daughter and I ended up watching 10 seasons in 8 weeks, often staying up until 3 in the morning. In the middle of that watching, I took a good look around Tumblr with new eyes and saw how immense the fandom was.
I remember learning about the conventions just before TorCon happened that year and was gutted that it happened on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and that I couldn’t afford to go.
What does the Supernatural Fandom mean to you?
The fandom is family, love, devotion and connection. I have met some of my dearest friends because of this show. I have grown into the person I am today because of this show. AKF saved the life of someone close to me.
Supernatural is far more than just a show or just a movement. I don’t know that I can define it because words don’t seem to touch it well enough.
It’s belonging. It’s finding yourself. It’s empowering. It’s changing the rules when they no longer work. Figuring it out. Finding a way.
How and when did you start with drawing?
I can tell you the usual story about how I always drew, but all kids draw – or, all kids with opportunity to do so, draw.
I knew in high school that all I wanted to be was a portrait artist. I loved the artists who made the Star Trek book covers. I studied their work. I dreamed about being one of the creators behind fandoms. I drew, and later painted, like my life depended on it.
All my teachers, even in art school, told me to go do something else. There was no future for me in art. I wasn’t good enough. All artists starve. Things like that. So I went off and became a computer programmer, my other love, working on the cutting edge of internet applications and e-commerce. It was a crazy amazing time (again, the 90s so this was cutting edge) and while I still created art, it was amateur and defeated.
All of that changed when I had a certain death experience. I was driving home on the highway, and it was a divided highway, when I realized there was a car in my lane coming at me. Someone was confused or drunk or both and driving the wrong way. Being surrounded by cars and the barrier to my side I had no place to go and I knew I was going to die.
And oh, I was angry. Angry I had never lived my life. Angry that my dreams of creating art and being known for it, were gone before they could happen. Angry that I wasted everything. Every gift I was given.
The feeling was so intense, that even writing about it takes me to that space.
I don’t know what happened but the car missed me entirely, and in the moment of awareness that I had come through alive, I knew that the only way forward was to make every day after into building my life the way it should have been.
Three months after that moment, I found Supernatural.
A month after that, I created a body of art that was the best (then) that I had ever created.
Nine days after I finished that art (27 pieces in 30 days), I got a call from a comic con who saw me online and asked me to show my work.
At the comic con, I landed an agent and a gallery show
And it went on and on.
I always tell my students, I teach artists and writers how to run profitable businesses, that there’s a moment for every artist that is their origin story. It’s not the one that says I have always drawn. It’s the one where you make the decision to either pick your pencil back up again, or you choose to never put it down. There’s always a moment. Always a choice. Mine came in 2015.
It feels like forever ago. A lifetime. But it was only 4 years ago. Crazy, right?
I know you draw traditional art. What kind of colors, brushes, papers and canvas do you use normally?
I am formally trained so I started where every artist starts: with pencil on paper. Then charcoal on paper and working my way through the various mediums.
For a long time I worked with chalk pastels. The color and precision were enticing. I also spent a few years working in colored pencil.
I spent some time deeply involved with encaustic painting which is oil paint mixed with hot beeswax. It’s an incredible medium and worth exploring.
But painting is my jam. I work in acrylic predominantly and my preference is cradled birch panel. Canvas is fine but it’s flexible and textured which can be a problem. Birch is hard and holds the paint well. I happen to be allergic to birch so every time I paint I end up being an itchy mess but I think it’s worth it.
The materials I use are professional grade. Knowing that the wood is kilned properly, that the paints are made to last, is important.
I do break the rules with paints and use colors from different companies. Golden has the best teal by far, burnt umber and the blue-est Prussion blue ever. Amsterdam has neon colors that hold their vibrancy for years. I have yet to see them shift or fade. I also use colors from Sennelier. Their Mars black is fantastic.
Do you also draw digitally?
Funnily enough, when I do book illustration, I work digitally. I start with a pencil or pen drawing that I scan in and then I work in Adobe Illustrator to create the final piece. I love Illustrator because the art is scalable and pieces I make for books can be used for posters or whatever with very little effort.
But, because I live on my computer for work and marketing, and especially for those 25 years as a programmer, I make sure my fine art is done using traditional media. I like getting my hands dirty.
What was the first picture you drew and, of course, the first Supernatural related one?
The first two pieces for Supernatural I made at the same time, one from “Croatoan” and the other from “Tall Tales” – intense moments right from the start.
The first painting that I made that blew my socks off, when I realized I might just have what it takes to be a professional artist, is one from Sherlock. I remember putting everything into that painting and it’s one I still have with me.
I always love to see the progress people make with their art. Would you like to share a then & now picture with us?
Sure, I’ll include some.
Early Art from High School
Later early Art before I went professional
You thought about tiny canvas and I saw you started to draw on them. Is it more difficult than with normal sized ones, or is it maybe easier?
It’s far harder to work on tiny canvases. In a large painting I can distract from any mistakes with layers of colors. Kind of a visual trick of the hand. In tiny paintings, every line and every drop counts so it takes me longer to make them and I have to work harder.
I love making them though. When they work, they are stunning.
Can you explain how/why you choose the pictures you draw. What inspires you?
There are a mix of things that go on. When I’m watching a show or movie, I’m always looking at light and colour but when those mix together with a moment that makes me feel deeply, I know it needs to be painted.
Sometimes my Twitter followers make suggestions, or I ask for them. I love this kind of collaboration because I get to paint things that move someone else.
How long does it take you to finish a portrait/drawing?
A lot depends on the size of the painting. My typical painting takes about 20 minutes to 45 minutes to do. The smaller ones, tiny ones, take an hour or so. The giant IMAlive ones really depended on whether they flowed or not.
For example, the pair I did for “Baby”. I painted both at the same time in about 45 minutes. They were painted to 3’x6’ and framed down to 2’x4’. Huge, huge pieces but I painted like I was possessed. I dreamed of those paintings, though. They demanded to be painted.
Speed Painting Video IMAlive Houston 2017
When I first started out, it took me longer to do paintings. At least 6 hours over two sessions. Then I started doing the color work in Photoshop. What I mean is, I adjust the colors in my reference photos to more closely be what you see in the final paintings, making most of my decisions before I ever touch a canvas. That made all the difference in the world.
Not sure if you can choose, but which are your favorite pictures that you drew, and of course, why?
There are two paintings I probably won’t sell. One I nearly did when I found myself short of cash and thankfully the sale didn’t happen.
That one is “Hell”. It’s the moment when Dean finds Sam in Hell. Season 11, ep 10. I painted that during the holiday hiatus just to keep me going. It’s a moment that defines what Supernatural means to me.
I have always wanted to ask you this. How much canvas do you have with finished drawings [i.e. how many finished paintings do you still have]? How many of them are Supernatural related?
I’d say about half of my work is Supernatural but it’s rare for a piece to stay with me for long. Either I didn’t promote it enough or it hasn’t found the right person yet [for it not to sell quickly].
If I feel like I didn’t do a moment justice, I’ll paint over it (I know – GASP!) or I’ll repaint it. It’s important to me to make sure any painting I sell is the best I can make it in the moment.
Have any of the Supernatural cast recognized any of your paintings, maybe at a convention?
When I went to my first convention, Toronto 2016, Chris Schmelke (the Creation photographer) actually came out to talk with me. He and the others had seen my art on Twitter and he wanted to see it in person.
People who bought my art, or buy my art, tend to get it signed by the guys. So many people have given them my business cards as well, which I’m immensely grateful for. It’s a small act of kindness but it means a lot to me.
Painting for IMAlive meant that for the duration, my art was at every show. I’m sure it’s recognizable to the cast.
I saw drawings from you about other fandoms. What other fandoms do you like to draw?
I have a soft spot for Doctor Who. I love, love love painting the Doctor in any form. I grew up watching Star Trek and Doctor Who. We didn’t get very many English channels where I lived as a child so it was sci-fi or news. Both of those fandoms mean a lot to me.
You are also a business coach for artists and writers. Can you share one good piece of advice for new artists and writers?
If you are called to create, do so. The calling is so important. And the minute you write or draw or paint with the intention of creating something, own your place. You ARE an artist, a writer, a creative.
So many people I work with are waiting for permission to be a full fledged artist or official writer. I’m giving you all permission right now. Do your thing. Own it. Be it. Our world is far better with creative people in it!
From 2016 to 2018, you painted for IMAlive. Can you tell us more about that work and, of course, share some pictures.
In early 2016, I saw some paintings from IMAlive and wondered about them. They weren’t that great. The artist was pressed into service out of necessity (she’s not an artist but someone who rises to the occasion if needed) and I felt badly that these pieces weren’t living up to what was needed.
When I went to sell my art at the 2016 Toronto convention, I met with IMAlive and over the weekend had many chats. I also saw them at work, helping people in crisis, and generally being amazing.
In our chats, they mentioned that they saw my art online and wanted to ask me to paint for them but because it was volunteer, they weren’t sure if I would be open to it. Now, you need to understand that artists are ALWAYS asked to donate art and time and whatever. It’s assumed that we should do so. So IMAlive being so respectful of me and my work was amazing.
Right after that weekend, we sorted things out by email and I got my first convention to paint for: San Francisco in Dec.
Oh my Chuck! I nearly lost my mind knowing that my work was going to be signed by the cast and seen by so many people, and knowing that it needed to be good enough so that fans would want to buy it. Every piece needed to raise money for IMAlive so there was some pressure to make sure I did good (I put that on myself because I really wanted to do this work).
I ended up painting 2-4 paintings for every convention and some months there were TWO conventions. That’s a lot of art. I think I made around 44 or 48 paintings in total. All were 2’x4‘ or 4’x‘4 in size. I used to nail them to the wall and paint them that way.
You know, in the time I was painting for IMAlive, and helping raise awareness about them, the act of giving back kept me going. My marriage was falling apart. I was burning out. Life kept getting harder and harder. Knowing I had a purpose, that the things I made changed lives, helped me keep going. I highly recommend volunteering for this reason. It’s powerful stuff.
You are open for commissions. How does it work? Are there rules about things you don´t draw?
So open for commissions means I have time to paint outside of my day-to-day work. Sometimes I’m not open so it’s worth checking.
If you want a painting, just message me or email me. We talk about what you want, the size and the deadline. You send me photos if it’s something like painting a pet portrait or whatever, or tell me what scene or show or feeling you want painted.
At this point, if you change your mind it’s no big deal. I have a few people who want paintings but aren’t ready for them yet. I never, ever, put pressure on anyone to buy. My art has to be right for you and you have to be in the right space for it.
(If it’s a matter of not being able to afford a painting, and trust me I totally understand, we can work out payments. I’ve had people pay me over 3 and 4 months to buy art and I’m fine with that.)
The next step is paying 50% down. I never start a job without a down payment. Supplies cost money and when I take the time to paint, the time is money as well. When the piece is done, the other 50% is paid. If a painting needs shipping, there’s usually a week delay to allow for the paint and varnish to dry.
Once it’s fully paid and dried, we either arrange pick up or I ship.
In terms of what I won’t paint, it’s fairly basic:
- No hate
- No politics
- Nothing made by other artists. If you like an artist’s work, go buy their work.
You also draw pet portraits. Do you have a pet? By the way, I love my drawing you made of my dog, Scotch.
Do you mind if I share the picture here?
I do have pets. Right now I have four cats. Total accident having four. I had three for a long time, one passed away so we got a kitten and then… oy… my youngest kid found another kitten who was identical to the one we lost and she looked at me with big wet eyes and had a quiver in her voice and asked me if we could get this kitten.
So… four… cats….
I used to have a horse too. I also have a fish. Used to have a rat and mice. I think a house becomes a home when there are pets. Ok, not the horse. He’s better off not on my couch but the rest are awesome.
This is the painting of my Dog Scotch
You created 2 coloring books. Are they only Supernatural art or are other fandoms also in them?
There are other fandoms in them too. They are line art I made from paintings I did in 2016 and 2017. I loved making them and I might make more.
You also wrote a book Wake the f*ck up. What is it about?
Ah, this one is a project of love. It’s a non-fiction book designed to help women wake up and reclaim their lives.
Basically, it’s a series of tiny stories and ideas paired with exercises. The book is made to be read in any order, and made to be drawn in. When you do all the exercises, you will be a very different person.
Everything in the book is everything – every idea and tool I used – to transform my life. I went from married and miserable, trapped and resentful, to single and thriving. It wasn’t easy, but my life now is so wonderful that it was worth it.
People can subscribe to your newsletter. What can they expect from them?
I write, usually 5 days a week, about art and ideas. They are short reads, about 3 minutes, and designed to inspire, uplift and inform. Lately, I’ve been writing about art and ideas behind creating art. Earlier I wrote about self-love and pausing to feel the love.
What are your next projects?
I’m wrapping up another book about grabbing life, living well and learning how to pivot (aka change your mind and direction) when it’s time to.
I also run a mastermind class for artists and writers which takes them through every step needed to set up and run a thriving, financially successful business. Next year, I plan on creating retreats – a chance to connect in person and deep dive into the creative process.
Is there anything else you like to share with the fans? What more would you like to tell us about your art or yourself?
I want to say how in awe I am of everyone. The people I’ve encountered who have been so genuine and so incredible. The people who ask for help when they need it. The people who help when asked. The people who are unashamed about celebrating the things they love. Being a part of the SPN Family has been incredible and it’s because of everyone in it.
What I really want to say is, if you have a dream, make a way to make it happen. I am not saying find a way because that’s not enough. Decide you’re worthy of that dream and do what it takes to turn your life from ok or shi**y into something you can’t wait to get up for every day. If I can do it, you can do it. Really.
And, if you’re an artist or writer, or maybe if you want to be one, reach out to me. This is my calling: helping creatives live the lives they’re supposed to live. I have a free group on Facebook and a paid for subscription group that deep dives into day to day business. Plus a mastermind course.
I think the world needs all of us to stand up, be who we are born to be, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen.
Now it’s time for the question I ask everyone. If you could change only one thing in the world right now, what would it be?
We have lost our sense of belonging to a community. We function as individuals who think that our lives are the only ones that matter, that our opinions weigh as much as expert information. It’s appalling.
I dream of us pulling together as a community. Becoming better because we belong. Supporting and nurturing each other. We each and all have a responsibility to do our part to create communities that work together.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me!
Now I´d like to share some prints I bought from Paula.
(The two on the bottom row, right side are from someone else.)
Please share your comments, questions, and reactions below! If you want to follow Paula, the links are below:
For the other creative souls out there, you can find Paula in The Creative Visionary:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/thecreativevisionary/ (this is the free facebook group)
https://www.thecreativevisionary.com/jam/ (this is the sign up for the paid group)
Thanks for reading.
-Using Words, Telling Stories, The Writer Business-
You can read more of my articles by going to my Writer´s Page!
Read More Stories of Fans who have been “Inspired by Supernatural”! They can all be found in WFB’s “Lighter Side” articles!