I’ve painted my way out of absolute hell: Jane Seymour


Launched by our head judge Andrew Marr two months ago, our fabulous painting contest has helped many of our readers through lockdown. The entries have been flooding in, but now you only have one week left. So let Hollywood actress Jane Seymour and broadcaster Anneka Rice, two of our judges, inspire you to pick up a brush…

While most of us have spent the past few months piling on the pounds and attempting to tame unruly lockdown hair, the perennially glamorous Jane Seymour has been pouring her energies into painting. 

Having sprung to international stardom as Bond girl Solitaire in the 1973 movie Live And Let Die, Jane starred in subsequent hits such as the 2005 movie Wedding Crashers and TV’s Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. 

Now 69, she’s neither stopped working since nor seemingly aged a jot, and her love of art has seen her through all life’s ups and downs.

Jane Seymour, 69, (pictured) who has had over 300 exhibitions around America and Canada, revealed why she turns to painting when something bad happens in her life

Jane Seymour, 69, (pictured) who has had over 300 exhibitions around America and Canada, revealed why she turns to painting when something bad happens in her life 

While painting has always been her passion, it took the coronavirus to reawaken her love for it. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been so prolific,’ she says. 

‘Talk about nourishing your soul. There’s nothing like creating something from scratch to make you feel fulfilled.’

As one of the judges of our Glorious Britain in Spring Painting Competition (see panel, far right) therefore, she couldn’t be more perfect. And if you’re anything like Jane, you too will have been inspired by lockdown. 

‘I have a watercolour station on the deck at the back of my house and from there I can’t resist painting the flowers in the garden,’ she says. ‘I find it a very empowering experience.’

Jane first learned to paint as a young girl and has subsequently gone on to stage over 300 exhibitions around America and Canada. 

Her work has raised money for her charity, Open Hearts Foundation, and has even been exhibited in New York’s famed Guggenheim Museum. 

Her Malibu home, with its lush gardens and stunning seafront views, is the perfect spot for creativity. ‘I’m drawn to landscapes and seascapes, so I’m lucky they’re on my doorstep,’ she says.

Although many of the beaches are now closed as California suffers a second spike of the virus, Jane can see the beach from her garden. 

SPRING IN A VASE ‘Each of these studies was painted by me in situ, not from a photograph. I painted this one (near right), called Dance Of The Magnolias, in pastels at my home in Malibu.’

SPRING IN A VASE ‘Each of these studies was painted by me in situ, not from a photograph. I painted this one (near right), called Dance Of The Magnolias, in pastels at my home in Malibu.’

‘I don’t have to put my feet in the sand to know it’s there. I’ve always found water inspiring because it’s never still. And I have koi fish, which are wonderful to paint for their colour and swiftness of movement.’

Last year she took part in BBC1’s Celebrity Painting Challenge, but while filming the show in England she received news that wildfires in Malibu were threatening to consume her home. Her resulting self-portrait on the show mirrored her stress.

‘When I was painting my self-portrait, it was not a happy face. You can see tears. I thought I’d lose my house and everything I owned.’ 

Happily her house survived. ‘I turn to painting when something bad happens in my life,’ she says. ‘Painting saved my life after I lost everything.’

There’s nothing like creating something from scratch to make you fulfilled 

She’s referring to the end of her third marriage, to businessman David Flynn, in 1992. ‘The split left me feeling betrayed. I was minus many millions and facing lawsuits I knew nothing about,’ she says. 

Though in dire financial straits, Jane bid for a painting session with American artist Tom Mielko at auction, and won it. 

‘He passed on to me his tips and wisdom on painting with watercolours and the effect was extraordinary. I found myself healing. I was homeless and penniless and painting was absolutely the single thing that saved me.’

COMING UP ROSES ‘This is near the kitchen at my former home, St Catherine’s Court in Bath. It’s one of the oldest parts of the house, dating from the 10th century, when it was a Benedictine monastery.’

COMING UP ROSES ‘This is near the kitchen at my former home, St Catherine’s Court in Bath. It’s one of the oldest parts of the house, dating from the 10th century, when it was a Benedictine monastery.’

Born Joyce Frankenberg in Middlesex, Jane was just 18 when she made her first film appearance in the Richard Attenborough musical Oh! What A Lovely War, and she went on to marry his son Michael two years later in 1971. 

Her subsequent role in The Onedin Line brought her to the attention of James Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, who promptly cast her in Live And Let Die.

‘I’d already met Roger Moore socially but had never worked with him,’ says Jane. 

‘He loved practical jokes, and one time he did one on me. During the shoot we’d have lunch at a big table and I’d sit down with my tray of food and politely say, “Please would you pass me the salt or the pepper or the HP Sauce.” 

HOW TO ENTER 

Don’t miss your last chance to enter our Glorious Britain In Spring Painting Competition. Jane and Anneka will be joined on the judging panel by broadcaster Andrew Marr, art dealer and TV presenter Philip Mould and professional artist Mark Bergin. They’re looking for your stunning spring views of the British Isles, ranging from landscapes or views outside your window to plants, flowers or objects associated with the season.

THE RULES

The competition is open to UK-based amateur artists aged 18 or over. Email a maximum of two entries as JPEGs to springpainting@dailymail.co.uk with your name, address and phone number, and a description of up to 300 words. Entries can be in any medium on any surface, but must have been made after 15 March 2020, and not won an award before. As lockdown has eased, we’ve extended the closing date to 7 August 2020. For full terms, see dailymail. co.uk/springpainting

WHAT YOU CAN WIN

One outright winner will get a £500 voucher from leading art supplies retailer Cass Art, and a four-day painting retreat at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in Sussex. Three runners-up will each receive a £100 Cass Art voucher. The winners and runners-up will be published in Weekend and a selection of entries will be shown in a virtual exhibition.

‘Apparently the others used to say, “You don’t want to sit next to Jane, she’s just going to ask you to pass this and that, so let’s leave the minute she sits down.” Which they did! They all picked up their plates and left and it was just me alone at this big table. I was devastated. 

‘And there was no explanation. I only knew Roger remembered it because in his biography years later he wrote, “I meant it as a joke but it didn’t go over as one.”’

A few months before Roger died of cancer in 2017, he and Jane met up in England.

‘We spent 45 minutes reminiscing. He said, “Oh, I’ve felt so bad about that joke all my life. Am I forgiven?” and I said, “Absolutely!” So we had a good laugh about it.’

The Bond movie should have catapulted Jane to even greater heights, but when she went to LA to screen test for her first Hollywood film, a renowned producer made a move on her at his house. 

Disillusioned, she returned to England and gave up acting for a year. It was only the encouragement of her then boyfriend and subsequent second husband, the author Geoffrey Planer, that made her return to Hollywood and she hasn’t stopped working since.

Jane’s marriage to Geoffrey ended a couple of years later, and in 1981 she wed David Flynn. The couple had two children – Katie, now 38, and Sean, 35 – but the marriage ended after a decade amid allegations of his infidelity. 

Struggling with debts, her agent called all the networks. ‘He said, “Jane will do anything”. That anything turned out to be Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman.’ 

The show ran from 1993 to 1998 and was a huge hit, winning Jane a Golden Globe. ‘It rescued me,’ she says. ‘It rescued our whole family.’

Her fourth marriage in 1993 to director James Keach produced twin boys John and Kris, now 24, yet ended after 22 years following reports of James’s infidelity. 

‘It was devastating. I’d love to have stayed married my entire life. I didn’t choose to end any of them.’ For the past six years she’s been in a relationship with British film director David Green, 71.

She most recently starred in the Netflix series The Kominsky Method with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, which has just been renewed for a third season, and before the pandemic she finished filming two movies. 

In Friendsgiving she plays the high-spirited Swedish mother of Malin Akerman (Damian Lewis’s co-star in Billions), and in The War With Grandpa she appears alongside Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

When we speak she’s preparing to fly to Australia to start work on the movie Ruby’s Choice, in which she plays a woman with dementia, but meanwhile she’s urging readers to enter our contest. 

‘The most serene paintings I’ve ever done were when I was going through absolute hell,’ she says.

‘I left torture behind and painted my way into the world I wanted to live in. I tend to paint positive images, and invariably nature gives that to me.’  

MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE WAS LEARNING TO PAINT 

Anneka taught herself how to paint in her mid-20s from a book called Step-by-Step Art School. Pictured: Anneka in her studio

Anneka taught herself how to paint in her mid-20s from a book called Step-by-Step Art School. Pictured: Anneka in her studio

Anneka Rice never painted at school, but it has now become such a big part of her life that she was thrilled to be asked to be one of the judges for our painting contest.

She taught herself in her mid-20s from a book called Step-by-Step Art School, bought for her by her then husband, theatre impresario Nick Allott. 

‘I started with watercolours because that’s what it said in the book, and I took to it immediately,’ she says. 

When she was filming TV holiday shows like Wish You Were Here…? she’d find herself ‘halfway up Ayers Rock with paper and paints spread out and the crew teasing me as I painted between shots.

‘Discovering painting was like lighting a spark. I’ve always been someone who likes a challenge, as we know. Then when my kids were small and I needed to spend more time with them, I decided to take a sabbatical.’

So she enrolled on a two-year vocational painting course at Chelsea College of Art. ‘On the first day my tutor told me to go outside and find a twig. 

Anneka said oil paints don't work her because they take too long to dry. Pictured: One of Anneka's painting

Anneka said oil paints don’t work her because they take too long to dry. Pictured: One of Anneka’s painting 

‘He could see I was daunted by a large piece of white paper and a paintbrush. Back inside he gave me a bottle of ink to dip the twig in and I was away. It helped me to lose my inhibitions.

‘I use acrylics. Oils don’t work for me because they take too long to dry. I’m not a great fan of producing something pretty, I’m more concerned with getting down on paper what I’m feeling in my heart. For me painting is about emotion.

‘Ever since that original awakening painting has been my real obsession. I’m thrilled to be a part of this competition because it will encourage people to get lost in the art of creating. It’s so good for your mental health.

‘Start with a big piece of paper – maybe the back of some wallpaper – and flood it with water. 

‘Find a stick and dip it in some runny watercolours or ink and start making marks. You’ll be amazed at what happens. It’s a fresh experience every time.’

Richard Barber

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xoonews.com


Manoj Prajapati

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