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Jane Seymour shows off paintings in Safety Harbor

SAFETY HARBOR - Actress Jane Seymour recalls that the first collector to show interest in her paintings was a New York art expert who bought seven of her works right out of the crate. "He saw my dealer getting ready for my showing at the New York Art Expo and asked 'how much?' " she says. "He started to take them away and my dealer went running after him. 'Are you aware that the artist is an actress?' " she asked. He said 'I don't care. She's an artist.' " That collector is Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise. "I've been showing 20 years now," Seymour said in a recent telephone interview. "And I'm excited to be coming to Florida."
The 61-year-old actress, whose career includes the 1971 James Bond film "Live and Let Die," the romantic thriller "Somewhere in Time" and the memorable TV series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," is showing an assortment of her works at the Syd Entel Galleries in Safety Harbor. Seymour will help close the show this weekend with appearances at the Safety Harbor gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Seymour, who works out of her Malibu home studio, says she is exhibiting a mixed-media collection of her works: sculptures, watercolors and pen and ink drawings. "What's different with my work is that I don't just work in one style," she says. "There is something for everyone. It's like my body of work as an actress. I rarely repeat myself. I do outrageous comedies to family films to serious dramas. What you get when you come to my art show or buy one of my pieces is something that is very personal to me, something that I created for myself and has a story attached to it that is meaningful to me." Since childhood she has been interested in painting but didn't begin serious work until she was 40. She started after her third marriage (to business manager/real estate developer David Flynn) came unraveled. "I went through a terrible divorce and lost everything emotionally, physically and financially," she says. "My mother always told me that when life gets tough if you help someone else, that helps you." She says she attended a charity auction and bid on an artist to paint a portrait of her with her children. Upon visiting her home and seeing her work, the artist offered to give her free lessons. "I am a huge French impressionist fan and always have been," she says. "I love Monet … I also paint in the photorealism style, and I think of Georgia O'Keeffe when I am painting flowers." "I feel the character of a flower is like the character of a person," she says. "The leaves and the way petals curl are individual, and I try to paint the personality within the flower rather than a generic breed of flower." Seymour likes to paint garden scenes and seascapes that recall her childhood in England. She also paints herself as characters from her film and television career on commission from fans. "I have painted myself as Dr. Quinn, and from 'Somewhere in Time,' which a lot of people remember, and I do a mixed-media piece of the James Bond role that always sells immediately." Seymour's acting career began in 1969 with roles in British films. In 1973 she shot to international fame as Simone in "Live and Let Die." Other memorable roles include the miniseries "War and Remembrance;" "East of Eden," the original "Battlestar Galactica," and "The Scarlett Pimpernel," as well as numerous guest appearances on TV series. She continues to work in films and television. She has competed on "Dancing With the Stars," was in the hit comedy "Wedding Crashers" and recently was seen on PBS in a holiday musical with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Earlier this week, she made a guest appearance on the FOX comedy "Ben and Kate." She's in a comedy film, "Freeloaders," about slackers living in a rock star's mansion, that is due in theaters soon. And she's in an independent film, "Austenland," a satire about a theme park devoted to Jane Austen that is being shown at the Sundance Film Festival this month. When she's not acting or traveling, she's working in her art studio. "I often paint myself in scenes without my face showing," she says. "Rather than use a model, I collaborate with myself as the actress to get the right emotion in the painting." She has designed handbags and accessories, and her "Open Hearts" watercolors inspired a line of jewelry. She also has authored inspirational books. She says her most recent book, "Open Hearts Family," is about how your family can extend to the people you meet in life that share something very profound with you. "Unless your heart is open, you won't connect to those around you," she says. "When you have been through a challenge in life, if you open up and reach out, something beautiful will come into your life." She averages 12 to 15 one-woman shows in galleries throughout the country. "The excitement for me in these shows is that somebody will come up to me and point to a painting and say this speaks to them or something very specific in their minds" she says. "As a communicator it is exciting when something I created communicates an emotional response."
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