It hardly seems possible that one year ago this month I was painting in Aix-en-Provence with my friend and exquisite artist, Jill Steenhuis. Her vibrant, colorful paintings and her zest for living a true artisan life are pure inspiration for me. My week with her was my first time to experience a sense of place through painting, and it was life transforming.
Two years ago, I took a two-day workshop from Jill in Dallas. From the meditative practice of getting our palettes ready to her exhuberant encouragement to paint from our hearts to capture the essence, energy and feeling of what we are painting, I was under Jill’s spell.
I KNEW that somehow, someway I would go paint with her in her beloved Aix-en-Provence where she has lived for the past 30 years. Dreams do come true.
Jill welcomed our small class (five students) to her home the first day. I felt like I had stepped into a French storybook house. I couldn’t get enough of her restored country home complete with a swimming pool, fig trees, olive trees, a stable for Jill’s horse, magnificent art studio and terraces for dining and painting.
The land of Cezanne and Van Gogh came to life through Jill’s eyes. Her masterful knowledge of the masters inspired us as she took us to Chateau Noir (Cezanne and Jill both had their studios here), Mount Sainte Victoire, the seaside village of Cassis and the flower market of Aix-en-Provence. One night, we hurried to a field to paint the setting sun as Jill read her own poetry to us. It was divine and sublime.
Jill has written a magnificent book, Art, Soul & Destiny: An Artist’s Journey from America to Provence, which is filled with luscious photos of her paintings and drawings as well as her soul provoking poetry.
I’m delighted to announce that soon I’ll be getting another dose of Jill’s inspiration! She will be in Dallas in a couple of weeks to teach a workshop (of course I’m going) and for an exhibit of her recent work. Visit her Web site, Art in Provence, for details.
Who inspires you right now? I’d love to hear in the comments below!