Cezanne’s Provence Painted by Artist Jill Steenhuis Part 3
This is the third Perfectly Provence article on American artist Jill Steenhuis – you can read more on her background here and here. In this post learn about Cezanne’s artistic approach and one of his favourite spots Château Noir from Jill.
Several things I learned from the Marchutz School that gave me the confidence to make the leap to become a full-time artist. The Marchutz School taught me how to see and instilled the discipline to paint and draw every single day – making it my habit of being and the importance of nature and the great masters.
These are some of the teachings from the Marchutz School:
Cezanne said if one has 90% discipline and determination and only 10% talent, one can be hanging in the Louvre. If one has 90% talent and only 10% discipline, one will go nul par (no where).
“One must climb the great tree trunk of the great masters and absorb all the sap one can in order to then trek out onto one’s unique branch to find one’s vision.” (The Responsibility of the Artist according to the Philosopher Carl Jung)
Cezanne said, “one needs only two teachers – nature and the museums.”
Cezanne also said, “I have hair and beard longer than my talent.”
Van Gogh wrote, “What I am striving for is to paint what has never been painted before, but has all the strength of the great masters in it.”
These words gave me the freedom to work, to paint without evaluating whether or not I had been given the gene of talent. Talent is over-rated.
Château Noir is a very special place where one feels the presence of Cezanne and the authenticity of Provence and its history all the way back to Roman times. It is untouched by modern comforts and conveniences, unspoilt by tourism and expectations of how things should be – rather; it is true nature dans son jus. The pistachio tree in the courtyard that Cezanne painted in 1895 & 1896 is still there, and the millstones are still in place just as they were when Cezanne painted them.
I came to Aix to try to understand Cezanne’s imagination more deeply – at Château Noir this is possible. Very little has changed in the past 120 years at Maison Maria and Château Noir. To have had my studio there for 15 years (1981 – 1996) was a dream I could not have imagined before coming to Aix. On the cover of my book Art, Soul & Destiny – An Artist’s Journey from America to Provence is my painting of Château Noir seen from the olive grove looking up to the three windows, where I had my studio. I have painted the pistachio tree about 10 times in the past couple of years as it has become a grandfather of a tree and may not last too much longer. The way the stone of Château Noir receives the light, the way the pines, all leaning almost horizontal to the ground because of the Mistral, the intimacy of nature and haunting presence of Cezanne combine to make for a painter’s poetry.
Today, my studio is at home. My sculptor husband Serge restored the west wing of our home to be my studio – a replica of Cezanne’s studio on Chemin des Lauves.
I love painting at Château Noir, but I also love painting in Arles along the Rhône River and in the rice fields between Montmajour and Arles and at St. Paul-de-Mausole in St. Remy. I have also discovered other places and subjects, which are my own like St. Pons bridge near Les Milles and the aqueduct of Roquefavour, the garlic pickers in the fields of Luynes, the flowering almond trees and many others.
Jill Steenhuis is once again sharing her experiences with interested students at workshops in 2017. Here, is how Jill describes the workshops.
It is a very intense week of painting – but it is said that it is more than just painting; it is about climbing a mountain, a spiritual and artistic mountain. I do not really advertise my workshops or push trying to get people interested because I only take four students at a time, so it fills up fast. Because I only take four, it is almost a one on one instruction. We travel each day to a different place to paint, starting at my studio on the first day, then to Cassis, to the Luberon hill towns, to Arles and to Château Noir. Workshop description and comments from those who have attended workshops are on her website.
Image credits: all photos were provided by and published with the permission of Jill Steenhuis.