“When I came home, I just had all these trees in my head — and I felt like I needed to get them out.”

After Paulette Thomas had a second brain tumor removed in 2013, countless images of trees began to rustle in her thoughts. The visualizations of these outreaching structures began to branch together.

Tree.Paulette2.tgPaulette had a booth at Art in the Park in Orange, Saturday, where she sold her paintings as well as demonstrated her craft.

The Orange nurse says she remembers experiencing double vision while shopping at a grocery store and knew something was wrong.

“I went the next day and told the doctor,” Paulette says. “We both knew it was either an aneurysm, blood clot, or it was going to be a tumor.”

It turned out she had two tumors on her brain.

“The first was removed,” she says. “The second one, they just did radiation, they had to leave it there — they couldn’t take it out.”

Paulette says following the removal of the first tumor, her doctor didn’t expect the second one to be a problem anytime soon.

“They said it would be about 20 years before it came back,” she says. “Mine came back in five.”

Paulette says her doctor was surprised.

Tree.Paulette.tg“The only question I had was, ‘Can you take it out?’”

The decision was made to try to remove the growing tumor. Following the operation, Paulette went home and was unable to understand why she couldn’t stop visualizing trees. She says she assumes it is because the outdoors had had a large impact on her past.

“When I was a little girl, I used to climb trees all the time,” she says.

As time passed, Paulette decided to do something with the images.

“For 30 days, I painted 30 paintings of trees,” she says.

There was no need to use the outdoors as a reference, Paulette says.

“Mine’s just in my head,” she says. “I don’t look at a tree and paint it. I can just paint it sitting in my den watching TV.”

Although she does watercolor occasionally, Paulette mainly works with acrylic paints.

“I just like it because there are so many colors and I can get it in glitter and metallic,” she says.

Paulette continues to create new pieces, which can take anywhere from two days to three weeks to finish. Some canvases feature hundreds of trees.

After the initial burst of 30 paintings, Paulette eased up a little, but she still paints regularly.

“I kind of slowed down,” she says. “I’ve just loved painting trees. It’s peaceful.”

Paulette says painting landscapes is different from anything else in her life.

“(I feel) like it has a depth to it, almost like you’re looking at a window, it’s just peaceful — it’s therapeutic,” she says.

In addition to trees, Paulette has a growing collection of abstracts, which she believes has also been affected by her medical treatments.

“There’s no two alike,” she says. “Even in my head, when I’m painting them, I always think of another one when I get finished with that one.”

Paulette says painting is a process that is “never-ending,” and she doesn’t plan on cutting herself off from trees anytime soon.

“All I care to make is enough money to pay for more canvas, and more paint so I can keep going,” she says.

By Trevier Gonzalez

UP staff writer

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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