When she's not acting, penning a book, or designing home decor or jewelry, Jane Seymour can likely be found in her California studio, painting landscapes or scenes of children frolicking on the beach.
"My life is very busy, very enjoyable," she says. "I'm stimulated by the things I do. What really makes me happy is being creative."
The Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor will be at Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass in Safety Harbor this weekend for two receptions as an exhibition of her artwork that opened Jan. 4 concludes.
The exhibition includes more than 80 of Seymour's works — oils, watercolors, acrylics, pen and ink drawings, and a few sculptures. Pick up your own original or limited edition giclee at prices starting at about $1,500.
"We are thrilled to be having her here," said gallery owner Susan Benjamin, who has dined with Seymour. "Her art comes straight from her heart. And she is as darling in person as she looks."
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Seymour, 61 and still in enviable shape, has played many memorable roles during her four decades of acting: Bond girl, femme fatale, time traveler, and more recently, the comedic middle-aged seductress in Wedding Crashers.
She has several new movies and TV shows coming up too, but perhaps her favorite role is that of mother.
"Right now, I'm making chicken soup for my 31-year-old daughter who is highly pregnant, has the flu and can't take any medicine," Seymour said during a telephone interview from her oceanfront Malibu home.
Mothering comes naturally to Seymour, who has given birth to six. Her youngest are her 17-year-old twins, Johnny and Kris Keach, named after their famous godfathers, singer Johnny Cash and actor Christopher Reeve.
It was advice from her own mother that eventually led Seymour to become a professional painter.
"Mom used to say, 'Darling, when life is tough and you feel something is insurmountable, accept what's happened, be in the present moment and help someone else. By that very action you will help yourself.' "
That counsel came into play when Seymour was 40.
"I was going through a terrible divorce. I was in the process of losing my home, my self-esteem, my marriage. So I took my mom's advice," she says.
She went to a fundraiser to benefit abused children and, during a silent auction, bid her last bit of money on portraitures of her children. When the noted artist Tom Mielko came to her home to take some photographs to work from, he spotted some paintings she had done in the children's playroom. He was impressed, he said, and ended up giving her a few free watercolor lessons.
"Painting became my healing," she said. "I never imagined anyone would see my paintings or buy them."
The crew on her 1990s TV series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, liked her artwork, often commenting on it as she painted on the set. One day she gave them all T-shirts printed with her designs.
"It was really quite funny," she said. "There were these grown men moving large equipment wearing flowers on their chests."
She sold her first painting 17 years ago. It netted $25,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Since then, she's used her artwork to raise more than $1 million for various nonprofits.
Her own charitable Open Hearts Foundation (openhearts foundation.org) was inspired by more of her mother's words.
"Mother always said if your heart is open, love would find its way in," she said.
After Seymour was commissioned by the American Heart Association to create paintings and greeting cards to promote women's heart health, she designed what she calls "Open Hearts" — two hearts, not fully enclosed, but joined together. Later she would translate the "Open Hearts" designs into a jewelry collection available at Kay Jewelers.
Some of her "Open Hearts" paintings and bronze sculptures are on display at the Safety Harbor gallery.
Seymour's artwork encompasses a range of styles from classic impressionism to more modern concepts. One contemporary series features large single flowers on black backgrounds that sparkle with diamond dust. When creating these, Seymour searched for the unusual flower, "one that has character and is a little different, a little quirky," she said.
Overall, her body of work tends to be light and graceful, rich in color and full of femininity. Common themes are mothers and children, beaches, floral arrangements, English countrysides and koi fish.
"I paint what I love; it's my emotional response to things that come into my life," she said. She also does commission work upon request.
But please don't ask which she likes better, painting or acting.
"I hate that question. It's like asking me which child I like better. I love both.
"What really makes me happy is being creative," she said. "Art, design and creativity are things I can do any time the mood hits me. With acting, I have to wait until someone hires me."