BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — When Patti Thomas started painting in February, she discovered a new talent – and a passion.

“It’s euphoria, it’s therapeutic,” Thomas, the wife of Buffalo Bills Hall-of-Famer Thurman Thomas, said. “I apparently was missing it my whole life.”

Thomas was encouraged to pick up a paintbrush by a good friend who owns an art gallery.

“She saw some doodles of mine, and said ‘I feel like you’re pretty talented’,” Thomas recalled. “I was like ‘no, this is just something I do, they’re fun, they’re silly’.”

But she did start creating artwork – and they decided to introduce it to the art community. Thomas and her friend both agreed that it would be best if it wasn’t known who she was – and “The Ghost” was born.

“For me, because of the dynamic with my husband, it was almost a necessity,” Thomas said. “I had to gauge what people who knew what they were doing thought of what I was doing.”

Her work caught some buzz – and it’s being displayed in an exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center now through Oct. 17.

Thomas describes her style as neo-expressionism. Her works often include words, lots of color, and humor – as well as a deeper message.

“When a message is coming through to me as I’m painting, I’ve got to put it down,” she added.

Tiffany Gaines, curatorial and digital content associate for the Burchfield Penney Art Center, says that guests have been responding very well to the exhibition.

“Each piece feels personal to Patti,” Gaines said. “I think that allows people to connect with the work on their own, through the images, the color, or the language in the text she uses.”

Thomas has been handling Thurman’s branding and appearances for over three decades – they’ll celebrate 34 years together this weekend. She also raised their children, which she says is “the best thing I’ve ever done”.

“This has given me such a different sense of value – at 52, to have a new career, it’s great and I’m so thankful for it.”

The Burchfield Penney Art Center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and Friday evenings through 7 p.m., as well as noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are available at the door, and a mask policy is in place.

“The Ghost: Paintings by Patti Thomas” is on display now through Oct. 17.

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.