I'M REALLY NERVOUS ABOUT THIS," SAYS Gene Hackman. "It's pretty frightening," agrees Jane Seymour. Opening-night jitters? You bet. But this is no ordinary performance. It's the gala opening of the first Permanent Charities Art Exhibition at the Hanson Galleries in Beverly Hills, for which 41 of Hollywood's elite have bared their souls on canvas. "When I'm acting, a part of me maintains a wall, a guise," says Hackman, who hosted the show. "But my paintings are me."

Despite their anxiety, stars whose daytime work is highly collaborative find painting a refreshingly singular achievement. "What you do to the canvas is all your fault or all your credit," says Buddy Ebsen, who takes pride in the recent sale of one of his paintings for $9,000. "Jackson Pollock in his lifetime never sold one for more than $8,000."