Passion for Painting

Lifestyle Asia Magazine

May 2011
By: Cecile Lopez Lilles

“It now feels guilt-free and it is wonderful,” she says of her creative preoccupation.

Sequi Cu Unjieng Speaks of a life that has brought her to places deep within herself and around the world. Her marriage to businessman Gil Cu Unjieng accounts for two decades of a remarkable journey. These were happily spent immersed in what she calls, “wifehood and motherhood.” Today, the children are pretty much grown with Carlo, 26, based in Vancouver for work, Anton, 24, in Australia for university; Alex, 20, in Vancouver for university; and Julia, 13, the only one still at home. She now has the time and the space to once again pursue her artistic bent.

“My passion has always been anything to do with the arts. I am always designing something,” Sequi says. She explains her profession before her marriage as an interior designer receded backstage when the children came. Now that the three older ones are away and the youngest at school most of the day, Sequi is able to wield the brush into the canvas and has taken it to a more serious and intense level.

Yielding to Inspiration

“It now feels guilt-free and it is wonderful,” she says of her creative preoccupation. Sequi began seriously painting in 2004 and has held two successful exhibits since 2009. Almost all her works were sold out even before the show opened.

She defines her artistic process as a sort of stop-start affair. “When inspiration comes, I paint continuously for five hours or so, stopping only when Gil and Julia come home and call me for dinner. That’s why my medium is acrylic because I do not have time to wait for paint to dry. I paint where my mind takes me. It’s a spontaneous thing so I keep on. I can’t take long on any one painting because when the moment’s gone, it’s gone. I cannot lose the moment.”

Letting Go

This approach applies not only to painting but also to most everything in her life. Just as she stands in front of a black canvas and regards it briefly, so does she momentarily keep still to consider options, whether it is deciding which place to go for dinner with Gil on their “date nights,” where to travel next or as significant as where to send their children to college.

Just as she believes her paintings speak to their rightful owners, Sequi adheres her children, too, have a lot to say about their future. If there is anything that holds weight in their household, it is the freedom to take solo flight to the destination of one’s choice.

“After I finish with one painting, I let it go and I let the prospective owner find his own meaning in it.” She inadvertently practices the same motto with her children. “I want them to go and do their own thing. We want to see the kids healthy and happy and productive and able to support themselves in the lives they choose. We’re not control freaks; we let them be.”

Great Satisfaction

Sequi turns 50 in a few months and dreams of taking the whole family for several weeks to a rented villa in Tuscany but there is the matter of her children based in other continents with different schedules. The optimist that she is also looks to a time when she can pack her brushes and fly to Italy foe three months to take an intensive painting course. “That’s on my bucket list,” she says.

In the meantime, she is pleased that her painting career is underway. Being able to do what is most important at each particular stage of her life has added up to fulfillment and satisfaction. It reflects in the countenance of a woman happy with herself and the choices she has made.