She is recovering from heart surgery. Her right hand is weak and shaky. But the physical challenge cannot deter Chak-hui Metheesuvakul from painting.
Six months after an operation to treat coronary artery disease, the 72-year-old mother of five is still physically frail. But her passion for oil paintings remains as strong as ever.
Mrs Chak-hui is right-handed but her heart problem has left her with partial paralysis of the right hand. She is taking physical therapy to strengthen her hand, and at the same time practising painting using her left hand to express her creative drive.
“I want to get back to painting as soon as I can. I want to make many more paintings. Doctors said it may take a year or longer for me to recover. But after six months, I am recovering faster than I thought,” she said.
“This is probably because of the moral support I get and because I never lose heart.”
Mrs Chak-hui’s only son has died. Among her four daughters, Niramon Metheesuvakul, the eldest of the four, is the best known to the public.
The Metheesuvakul family were Suphan Buri natives before moving to Chiang Rai’s Mae Chan district.
A prominent television figure, Ms Niramon is a former reporter and is one of the founders of Payai Creation Co, which produces TV programmes, including Thung Saeng Tawan (Sunshine Field), which focuses on the relations between children and the environment.
Another programme it makes is Phan Sai Rung (Rainbow of a Thousand Colours), a television documentary which provides a window on the cultures and ways of life of diverse ethnic groups in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
A talented and prolific amateur painter, Mrs Chak-hui took up oil painting when she was almost 60.
She now has a collection of more than 200 oil paintings to her credit.
She learned from her youngest daughter how to paint, and also took a one-month course in painting at Kasetsart University. Most of her paintings are inspired by natural landscapes, Buddhist teachings and female nudity.
Many of her works portray the naked figures of women.
“Female bodies have beautiful shapes,” she said.
One of her masterpieces is a wall painting that has pride of place at the office of Payai Creation Co.
“When my daughter opened an office, I wanted to make a contribution and support her work for the public good. I created a wall painting at the office depicting a mountain, flower fields, wildlife and pastoral scenes which remind my children of a flower garden which our family once kept,” Mrs Chak-hui said.
She has joined the company’s film crew on trips upcountry.
This gave her exposure to the beauty of nature, which is a source of inspiration for most of her artistic works.
Six months ago, she went on a retreat to practise Dhamma at a temple in Sakon Nakhon before she was taken ill with a heart disease. Her children believe Mrs Chak-hui is a model of hard work and determination. Ms Niramon has swapped roles with her mother.
Before she fell ill, her mother cared for her and expressed her support through making art.
Now that Ms Chak-hui is in recovery, Ms Niramon is determined to nurse her back to health.
Ms Niramon said she plans to publish a book featuring a complete collection of her mother’s works.
“It is intended to show that in any circumstances and no matter how old you are, you can always enjoy life.”
Her mother is always supportive and is a role model for her to follow.
The love and care Ms Niramon receives from her mother have moulded her views on the importance of the family as the basic and fundamental unit in society
Kingkarn Levee, Ms Chak-hui’s second daughter, has married and settled in Australia but keeps in touch.
Meena Preungwiriya, another daughter, is interested in Dhamma and encourages her mother to practise Dhamma.
And it is Ratchada Metheesuvakul, the youngest daughter, who inspired her mother to paint.
For Payai Creation Co’s staff, Mrs Chak-hui is great to be around. They regard her as a mother figure and anyone who falls on hard times feels free to ask her advice on how to lead a decent life.