Sweet Briar Class of 1980 graduate Jill Steenhuis recently published “Art, Soul & Destiny: An Artist’s Journey from America to Provence.” Available for pre-order online, the 162-page book is a culmination of Steenhuis’ 31 years as an American living in Provence and features images and writings documenting her journey.
“To observe and contemplate Jill Steenhuis’ art is to accept an invitation to be inspired by the timeless beauty of nature that she captures on canvas and in her writing,” says novelist Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser. “Returning to the pure and simple joy of daily things — flowers and villages and budding trees — we taste and smell and feel the truth that is life…Her work touches my soul.”
As one of only a few artists in the world with access to the privately owned Château Noir (where Cézanne painted from 1865-98), Steenhuis works from many of the same scenes as the great master: the pistachio tree in the courtyard, Château Noir seen from the olive grove, Château Noir seen from under the pines, and Mt. Ste. Victoire seen from Château Noir, to name a few.
She also hosts weeklong workshops near her home in Aix-en-Provence, rounding out her schedule with two annual trips to the U.S. for charitable shows, exhibitions and lectures.
Steenhuis, who has appeared on “Good Morning America” and served as the Cézanne specialist for the Smithsonian Institute at the 100th anniversary of his death, has sold more than 2,300 works to private collectors, museums and art enthusiasts. “Art, Soul & Destiny” is her book debut and features an introduction by Michael Shapiro, curator of High Museum in Atlanta.
In “Art, Soul & Destiny,” readers learn about Steenhuis’ figurative birthplace overlooking Mt. Ste. Victoire as she followed her inner voice and the footsteps of Cézanne, determined to dedicate her life to her spiritual connection with the unspoiled beauty of Provence.
“Nature is the catalyst for my paintings,” Steenhuis says. “Being immersed in it, my soul is moved to create. The true mystery reveals itself as I work; as I let go.”
Painting “en plein air” with oil on canvases ranging from 12 by 16 inches to 60 by 48 inches, the artist carries on the tradition of the Leo Marchutz School while also achieving originality.