Actress Jane Seymour will serve as honorary chairwoman of the Columbia Classic Grand Prix on Saturday, adding a touch of Hollywood to the daylong, show-jumping event, which raises funds for scholarships at Howard Community College.
Seymour, who has returned to the acting spotlight recently with roles in the film Wedding Crashers and the television show Smallville, is also an accomplished artist who will show her work at the event and at Gallerie Elan in Ellicott City and Bethesda.
She was honorary chairwoman of the 2002 event and, she said, "I loved it. My daughters used to do hunter/jumper [competitions], and I love any kind of horse show."
The Grand Prix brings together some of the best show jumpers in the world to navigate a course of obstacles set up on the college campus lawn and compete for a share of $40,000 in prize money. An event in the morning offers a chance for junior and amateur riders to earn a share of a $10,000 pool.
Throughout the day, donors of $150 or more can socialize under a carpeted tent, while other fans and families watch the action from the grandstand or the lawn.
There will be vendors, food stands and children's activities, and a raffle will be held for a Mercedes-Benz and other prizes.
"It is an unusual event for the county," said Alan Jefferson, chairman of the Grand Prix board of directors. "It's turned into, first and foremost, a great family event."
Since 1989, the event has netted $1.8 million in scholarship funds. Organizers are optimistic that they will pass the $2 million mark this year.
Last time she was in Columbia, Seymour chatted with fans, posed for photographs and sold a number of prints of her artwork.
Seymour has been painting for more than a decade, creating realistic and impressionist oil paintings and watercolors of flowers, landscapes and figures.
Speaking by phone from her home in Malibu, Calif., she said some of her latest works are more modern, such as paintings of single flowers.
"I've always got more to learn, more that I want to say with my art," she said. "I love trying different techniques, different textures, different ideas. Rather like my acting, I don't stick to one thing and repeat it endlessly."
One recent series of paintings features dancers of different ethnicities, while another that she is working on -- created for a public-awareness campaign on heart health -- features women wearing red.
A couple of years ago, she started branching out into sculpture, she said, and has several figures that have been cast in bronze of children.
While filming Wedding Crashers on the Eastern Shore, Seymour said she used her down time to paint the local scenery.
"I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't want to eat junk food, and I find I can't read other material when I'm working on [a film]," she said. "I like to paint because it takes me to another place and it relaxes me and the time flies."
Her slate of acting roles will continue this winter when she plays a life coach on the WB network sitcom Modern Men. Early next year, she can be seen in a romantic comedy film, Blind Guy.
"It is my third or fourth incarnation as an actress," she said, recounting a career that went from a role in a James Bond film to period dramas to miniseries to Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
She is also working on her fourth book (not counting her books for children), which offers readers ways to bring their artistic taste into everyday life. And she is continuing to refurbish a 14th-century country manor in England and raise four children.
"The thing I'm most proud of or excited about is that I'm always growing and I'm always trying something new," she said. "You have to break down barriers to do it, and you have to jump off the diving board and really go for it."