After a forty-two-year military career and countless homes across the globe, Paul Seguna has always carried a notebook to draw in.
Seeing Paul’s artwork is nothing short of impressive. Whether it is satirical cartoons, landscapes of impressionable places he has been or full historic depictions of military war, his talents are both remarkable and varied much like his military experiences over the years.
Paul immigrated to Vancouver from Sydney, Australia, in 1974. He joined the Naval Reserve Division there that year achieving the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class. He obtained a BA in History from Dalhousie University in 1981 and transferred to the Regular Force as a Naval Operations officer in 1982. Paul served at sea and ashore for the next ten years before becoming a Public Affairs Officer serving at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa and overseas with UN and NATO missions in Rwanda, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He also deployed in support of several major domestic operations in Canada.
In 2002 he transferred back to the Reserve and was active as a reservist until he rejoined the Regular Force in 2012. He served at Canadian Army headquarters in Ottawa for a year followed by four years with NATO’s Allied Maritime Headquarters in London, UK before retiring in 2017.
When asked about his most memorable domestic deployment, Paul reflected on his time during the 2003 wildfire crisis in the Southern Interior of BC. He was a reserve Public Affairs Officer (PAO) at the time when he was deployed in support of the initial Canadian Forces (CF) contingent sent to the wildfire effort with troops from CFB Edmonton. From then onwards he was continuously on duty for the next thirty-plus days during the entire CF effort, known as Operation Peregrine, serving in all the fire zones throughout the interior and Okanagan Valley as the operation grew.
“This was an especially meaningful experience as my own home in the Vernon area, near the village of Lavington, was itself threatened by being in a forest interface area,” Paul said. During that time, I returned to my home one evening to find a fire truck on the road leading to my home…luckily there just as a precaution. This spurred me to join the local volunteer fire department after the crisis. For me, being part of the CF response to the crisis was very meaningful as I had the opportunity to serve under the eyes of Canadians who were also my friends and neighbours during a time of great challenge for us all.”
Paul developed a love of painting the landscapes of British Columbia, particularly of the many lakes and mountains.
Paul’s most memorable overseas deployment was when he was the media escort officer for journalists visiting CF operations in Rwanda just after the genocide acts occurred there in 1994.
“As part of my escort duties I accompanied journalists to many sites in the country where the CF was operating as part of the story of what had transpired there. This meant visiting sites where evidence of the horrendous genocidal crimes that were committed was still evident but also hospitals, refugee camps and orphanages where the people of Rwanda were engaged in recovery from those terrible events. It left an indelible impression on me – as it no doubt did on many CF members who served there.”
Throughout his many experiences, Paul continued to practice his craft at art. His talent and dedication led to his art being showcased in the National Aviation Museum and National Archives of Canada.
When asked about advice he would give other artists who are starting out, “[it’s important to] learn from your own internal criticism and that of others in a positive creative process of improvement but always as a reflection of your creativity and not to satisfy the tastes of others.”
“Paul’s artwork is beautiful, comical and moving. His talent hits upon so many emotions. I love that he confronts such a variety of art. Many artists are fearful about trying something new due to the difficulty of becoming a novice again. Paul however has just always enjoyed the process. There is a lot to be said for that. It reminds us that we can all develop an exceptional personal style and talent in art…if we are willing to try new things and practice,” says Barbara Brown, The Steel Spirit founder.
Despite his variety of works, he is not done with exploring new types of art, “I’d like to learn portraiture and abstract art,” he says.
Paul was clearly not one to shy away from a challenge in art or in his military career. As Paul says, “You may always have a niche you are most comfortable in but [you] should still accept the challenge of extending beyond that niche”
The Steel Spirit is always looking for new and emerging artists with and without art experience, from every background and every age. For more information visit: www.thesteelspirit.ca
To see more of Paul’s art visit: www.paulseguna.ca
Photos submitted by The Steel Spirit