“Art is what I do for me…my soul, my spirit.”
That’s what Jane Seymour—award-winning actress, designer, mother, grandmother and author–says about the work that is the passion of her life.
“Each piece has a story…”
“Each piece has a story,” Seymour says. She describes her work as her passion, just as her acting is. “I enjoy meeting people to tell them the story I envision in each piece I create. And I love to do paintings on commission to tell a story for the person who wants me to paint a particular subject.” She will also talk to art lovers about this possibility when she is at Syd Entel’s Galleries as well.
Asked what artists have most influenced her work, she answered quickly, “The French Impressionists were my first love—Chagall…Degas with his ballerinas…and I adore Monet and even the American impressionists—and I especially admire John Singer Sargent. I also have tried a bit of Pop Art and abstraction because I’m always trying to grow.”
Although Jane Seymour was involved with art since long before she became an actress, most people know her for her television and movie roles. She designed her own clothes and sold her designs to help pay for her early education, first as a ballerina until an injury forced her to move in a new direction, and then for her first year of college, where she studied art until she had an opportunity to become an actress.
After a few smaller roles on stage and in the movies, her career took off after she was chosen to play Solitaire in the James Bond 007 film, Live and Let Die,” opposite Roger Moore, who she says still is her favorite James Bond. She saw the most recent 007 film, Skyfall, twice and “really loved it,” adding that Daniel Craig was “perfect.”
Becoming an Artist
The British-born artist speaks softly, with a refined British accent as she relates how she became a professional artist. It all happened some 22 years ago when she was going through a very difficult divorce. She gave the last money she had in a silent auction to raise funds for Childhelp, a child abuse agency. She bid on an opportunity to have an artist come to her home in Santa Barbara to take photographs of her children so he could do a drawing of them.
The artist, Tom Mielko, noticed some fingerpaintings that she had done for her children’s playroom, and he asked her whether she painted, saying that the work was good. He asked whether she had time to learn a little more about art. She replied that she had time, but no money for lessons. Mielko offered to teach her anyway, saying he had some time on his hands and would like to get her started in watercolor so that she would always have that, no matter what she was doing.
“Art was my healing,” she says. “It was life saving on an emotional level, and it gave me an avenue to create. I started out in watercolor, and then I because obsessed with it.”
From small watercolors and florals, she went on to portraits and images of mothers and children at the beach. And she loves painting flowers. She made the natural progression to painting with oils and doing pastels and even uses acrylics for some modern pieces.
An Open Heart Finds Love
But painting is not the only thing she does in her studio in her Malibu home. She also designs clothing and jewelry, sculpture and even furniture and lamps. In recent years, she has become known for the “Open Hearts” jewelry line that she has created exclusively for Kay Jewelers since 2008. Her Malibu studio is the location for most of the television commercials she has done for them.
Her story of how the Open Hearts concept came about is particularly touching. Her mother had been through a lot, even spending some time in a Japanese prison camp in Indonesia during World War II. She told Jane that whenever things were especially difficult she should remember that, instead of closing off her heart, she should open her heart and accept what has happened.
“Love will always find you when your heart is open and you reach out to someone else,” Jane said.
That story and philosophy is the subject of Jane’s most recent book, Open Hearts Family, which includes 70 images that Jane Seymour has created, along with inspirational quotes. The lesson of the book is “When your heart is open, you create family,” she says. A number of original drawings and bronze sculptures based on the Open Hearts design will be among the pieces on display during her Syd Entel exhibit.
Acting Career Continues
This busy Renaissance woman continues with her career as a character actress these days, including several made-for-TV films that will be released soon. She will be a guest star on January 8 on the “Ben and Kate” show. Upcoming movies include Austenland (about Jane Austen), Freeloaders, American Girl in which she plays a grandmother and an ABC movie, Love Struck, in which she is called upon to do some dancing. She also made it to the seventh round in the 2007 “Dancing with the Stars” competition.
She married her actor-director husband James Keach in 1993 after they became engaged on the set of her popular TV series, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. The couple has collaborated on a series of children’s books that are now five-minute children’s cartoons entitled “This One, That One.” Jane Seymour has also authored several other books, including Two at a Time, based on her experiences as she became the mother of twins. The boys are now 17. One has his own band, and the other is a “truly outstanding” baseball player.
Jane Seymour continues to be close to her stepchildren, who have already given her two grandchildren, and her 30-year-old daughter from a previous marriage is pregnant, and her son is a fine art photographer. She manages to combine her many-faceted career with her involvement with family by doing most of her work from home and trying not to travel too much. She works out with a personal trainer on a regular basis to stay in shape, finding that she could do the same workouts on her own but the personal trainer “makes sure I do it.”
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