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Painting helps artist deal with illness

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.

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