CROWN POINT - On the far end of the Furnace Road in Crown Point lives a woman who paints, giving hope to those who struggle and have faced adversity.
Trish Buell has been painting since her diagnosis of scleroderma and paints from inspiration.
"I paint what I see in my head," said Buell.
Buell gravitates to the Native Americans where her walls show evidence with the many paintings hanging there. Wolves, cougars, horses, Native Americans, spirits and night sky paintings with the moon are often her choice for depicting a disappearing era.
"I am sometimes inspired to paint pictures through what I think is a deeper connection to the spirit world," said Buell.
Beginning her career 20 years ago, Buell has won ribbons at the Essex County Fair in Westport, the Stowe Art Show and has sold numerous paintings.
One painting which appears to be a round circle of bright white, yellow and pink against a midnight sky is what she saw in her near death experience.
"I had died when I became ill with the scleroderma and before they were able to revive me, I experienced what people call a near death experience, and this painting depicts what I saw," said Buell.
In 1979 Buell was working and began to feel tired and achy while waitressing. Afraid to go to a doctor because of a dream, she finally went for blood tests which soon revealed her condition of scleroderma.
Scleroderma is a chronic auto-immune disease that is characterized by fibrosis (or hardening), vascular alterations, and auto-antibodies. There are no treatments for the disease and it can often be fatal when it attacks the organs of the body.
With her hands starting to cripple, Buell's health also began to fail and she was hospitalized. Her future was grim and her doctor gave her two years to live. Her kidneys had shut down and she was placed on dialysis.
"I was in a coma for a week and when I woke up, I remembered a dream I had and I was determined I would recover from this debilitating disease," stated Buell.
Buell's connection to the spiritual world seemed to carry her forward and with her theory that out of everything bad comes something good, she put herself to the test to survive and find a cause to keep her going.
Buell found her therapy in painting. Through her connection to the spiritual world, she made the Native Americans the focus of her art.
With her hands crippled, Buell has found a way to hold the brush and project her thoughts on canvas in bright colors and nighttime visions.
"I want people to have hope and know that for every tragedy, sentence and prognosis, they can live what time they have giving to others, taking their minds off themselves," said Buell.
Buell believes her painting has been a way of expressing herself while giving hope not just to herself, but to others.
"I am thankful for my life events. If things had been different I wouldn't be with my soul mate (husband) Dick," said Buell.
Buell continues to paint and add to her collection. She sells some paintings and enjoys her life under the shadow of Owl Pate Mountain.