Jane Seymour became an international celebrity after starring as James Bond babe Solitaire in the 1973 movie “Live and Let Die,” and she's been in the spotlight ever since. Her numerous film roles include Christopher Reeve's romantic interest in “Somewhere in Time” and a surprising scene-stealing moment as an oversexed married woman in “Wedding Crashers.” On TV, she won critical acclaim for her portrayal of the sinister Cathy in a 1981 remake of “East of Eden” and even more fans as “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
Her turn as a contestant on the Fall 2007 season of “Dancing with the Stars” shows her ability to constantly reinvent herself: She acts, she dances, she writes, and she has her own line of products ranging from skin care to jewelry and furniture. But it's her role as accomplished artist that will bring her to Charlotte's Wentworth Gallery at SouthPark mall for two receptions in honor of an exhibit of her works.
We could picture her signature long locks shining in the California sun as she talked to us from her oceanfront home in Malibu about how her passion for painting began, what she keeps stashed in her garage and her latest TV role as a stylish sleuth.
Q. When did you start painting?
I had painted and drawn a bit as a child. I had the possibility of going to college and studying art, but I wanted to dance. Then I injured myself and became an actor instead. I didn't touch art again until 17 years ago when I turned 40. I went through a terrible loss – I got a divorce, lost all my money and my house, and I had two small children. Then I went to a charity event to raise funds for a child abuse agency. In the silent auction, I saw a painting of children by Tom Mielko and I really liked his work. We struck up a friendship, and when he was over at my house, he saw a finger painting I had done for the nursery. He thought I had talent and gave me some lessons. That got me started. I was headed to a deep depression, but painting helped me keep everything together. I painted morning, noon and night. Painting became my drug. It was incredibly healing. I never thought anyone would look at my paintings, much less buy them.
Q. Do you have a particular technique you prefer?
Tom showed me basic watercolor techniques, so my first paintings were watercolors. At first I was using very calm, serene colors. They weren't depressing. I was painting what I wanted in my life rather than what was happening. Then I took off and began using bright colors and trying different mediums – oil, a lot of pastels, mixed media. I'm not afraid to try new things and experiment in new areas. That's also the way I've approached acting. I don't want to bore myself. I have my camera with me wherever I go because I always see images I want to use for paintings.
Q. Why did you decide to create painting kits? (Her Paint with Jane Watercolor Starter Kit and Drawing Starter Kit are available in art supply stores.)
I want to share one of the best things about painting: It encourages you to have fun. It's creative, enlightens your day, and puts you in a Zen kind of place. It makes you look at nature – and the world – differently. Now when I look at something, I'm really looking at it. Right now I'm looking at a palm tree in my living room and I see all its different angles and shading. Even if I don't paint it, I experience it and see it with an artist's eye.
Q. Do you buy other people's art?
Yes, I love to collect other people's art. I've run out of walls. I like to rotate art, so I move things around. In my garage, we don't keep cars, we keep canvases. It's filled with paintings.
Q. What's the scoop on your new TV movie, “Dear Prudence”? (She plays Prudence McCoy, a Martha Stewart type who goes on a much-needed vacation and ends up solving a murder.)
It debuts on the Hallmark Channel Aug. 23 and will still be airing when I'm there in Charlotte. It will probably be on five times that week. The critics seem to love it, and hopefully the public will love it, too. I should know the ratings results when I'm in Charlotte. If it does well, we plan to do more.