Art from the heart

Jane Seymour talks about her prolific art career.

When Jane Seymour travels, she packs a set of watercolor paints.

"In case the mood hits,'' said the actress, who is best known for roles as a Bond girl, time traveler and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman but who also has another role off camera: painter.

For the past 22 years, Seymour has produced collections of watercolor, oil and pastel paintings, and sculptures that are displayed and sold in galleries nationwide. She comes to South Florida on Friday and Saturday for two exhibits at the Wentworth galleries in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton.

She'll display about 80 pieces, some of which inspire her Open Hearts jewelry collection. She will meet fans and discuss her latest artwork. She also has an online forum, keepanopenheart.com, where people can share stories on how having an open heart has improved their lives.


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Seymour opened up about her work from her Malibu, Calif., home studio recently.

Q: What made you pursue painting as a second calling?

A: I went through a really tough divorce about 22 years ago and I lost everything financially and emotionally. I was feeling very fragile. I gave the last money I had at that time to a child abuse fund-raiser for Childhelp, in return for an artist to do a drawing of my children. The artist came to my home, took photographs ... of my kids and saw these finger-paintings that I had in the playroom. He said, "They are really good," ... and, "Do you want some art lessons. I teach too." I said that would be great but I didn't have any money at the moment, I am about to lose my home. He said, 'I've got some time on my hands. It would be free. I want to come and teach you watercolors." So I started out in watercolor and it became an incredible Zen experience for me. I was able to take myself out of the painful circumstances I was in and really go to a place where I found a great deal of happiness and peace and serenity.

Q: Your themes are landscapes and mother/children beach scenes. Are these things that you see from your studio?

A: They are all based on my experience of life. Artists really interpret what they see and what they feel and what they care about. In my case, I paint what I find beautiful rather than what I am angry about. Some people paint hate. I tend to paint things that are beautiful and fill me with love. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a closeup of a single flower or the intimacy between a mother and a child … Water is really important to me, so a lot of ocean and seascapes … When you think of the wave, it lets go of water it doesn't need. It crashes, but continues to move, regroups, meets new water it has never met before, collaborates and becomes a new wave. To me, the wave symbolizes the cycle of life and the process of opening your heart to change and realizing that change brings you opportunities that you never conceived of.

Q: The hearts that you design almost look like waves.

A: It's two hearts that happen to be open that connect. And what happened originally was when I was growing up, my mother had been through an absolute hell in her life, many things including being incarcerated 3 1/2 years in a Japanese concentration camp in World War II.

So when I was growing up, my mother would say to me, "When life is tough and you feel something is insurmountable, your instinct will be to close up your heart and keep it inside and it will eat you alive. It will go round and round and round. But if you can accept what's happened and open your heart and in some way reach out to be of service or to help or to listen or do something for someone else, then you will find purpose and love will come into your life." And so that's how I interpreted her philosophy into the image that you see. And then from there, I have taken that image and turned it into open heart butterflies, open heart angels, open heart angel wings…

Q: The painting "Lady in the Garden," is that you?

A: That's me. Women in red dresses, very important to me. I was part of what you can do in terms of the women's heart health [campaign]. I did a series of greetings cards and these are paintings I did for that. I realized that a red dress or wearing anything red is a power color that speaks to passion … If I am feeling down or I feel I really want to pick myself up, I will wear something red in my wardrobe.

Q: Do you find that your art helps make others feel good?

A: I do my art to make me feel good (she laughs), and when it makes other people feel good, I am incredibly excited because it means that my response to the world has conveyed something to someone else that gives them an emotional response too.

Q: How much time does your art take up vs. your acting?

A: Most of the time. I am either thinking about an art piece or creating jewelry or designing furniture or furnishings. I constantly have new ideas. I am working on that side of my life every day. The acting depends when I get a good role. When I do, I invariably take my artwork with me because I find it very relaxing when I'm working.

Q: What can locals expect to see at your exhibits?

A: They will see everything from a combination of watercolor, pen and ink. They will see pastels. They will see images of single flower portraits. They will see a lot of seascapes and mother and children on the beach. They will see a lot of Open Heart original pieces and Open Heart sculptures. They will also see the work of Sean Flynn, who is my son, who is amazing with HDR (high dynamic range) photography.

If you go

Jane Seymour's appearances will be 6-9 p.m. at two Wentworth Gallery locations: Friday at 819 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; and Saturday at 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton. The event is free, but RSVP is suggested.

Info: 954-468-0685, 561-338-0804