We were destined to be friends and soulmates before we ever met.
Our dads knew each other, waving across the golf course at the Capital City Country Club in Atlanta. So I paid attention when my father said, “You need to meet the artist Jill Steenhuis. She grew up in Atlanta, rode and showed horses, moved to Aix-en-Provence in 1980 and lives there still.”
It took a long while to meet in person, but Jill and I started corresponding about twenty-five years ago, writing emails back and forth from Aix to Montpellier and then Lyon. We soon discovered many, many mutual friends in Atlanta and beyond, and most importantly, our mutual faith in Jesus.
And Jill became my ‘go to’ friend whenever I needed to ‘get into’ an artist’s skin in one of my novels. This was especially the case for The Swan House and The Dwelling Place. In the Acknowledgements I wrote: Jill Steenhuis, fellow Atlantan living in southern France and gifted artist, thanks for your thoughtful insights and advice about art and for helping me understand the artist’s inner eye.
For my 40th birthday, my parents gave me what is still one of my most treasured possessions: a painting by Jill.
It hangs above our fireplace in our home in Rochetaillee. This painting still takes my breath away every time I gaze at it. It captures my heart, embodying many things I love: France, nature, poppies, an old aqueduct, life in the moment.
Jill paints ‘en plein air’ like her beloved mentor, the impressionist artist, Paul Cezanne who lived and painted in Aix. In fact Jill’s art studio is designed almost exactly like Cezanne’s. Years ago, I had the privilege of finally meeting Jill in person and visiting her studio.
We’ve prayed for each other and cheered each other on across the miles and countries and years as the Lord has blessed the work of our hands. When Jill asked me for advice about publishing a book of her paintings and essays, I was humbled and delighted to get a sneak peek at this gorgeous book and wholeheartedly endorsed it.
From the back cover: To observe and contemplate Jill Steenhuis’s art (and her words, for she is not only painter, but also poet) is to accept an invitation to be inspired by the timeless beauty of nature that she captures on canvas and in her writing. Returning to the pure and simple joy of daily things—of flowers and villages and budding trees—we taste and smell and feel the truth that is life. Jill is a magnificent artist in every sense of the word. Her work touches my soul. —Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser, novelist
With all of our shared history, imagine our delight to have a chance to have lunch together at the Swan Coach House in Atlanta a few weeks ago.
And we are especially ‘tickled pink’ to be signing our books together THIS Thursday at The Swan Coach House Gift Shop. If you are in the Atlanta area, I hope you’ll join us. It will be my first in-person signing in over a year, and I am THRILLED to be there with Jill.
Thursday, April 29, 11am – 2pm at the Swan Coach House Gift Shop, 3130 Slaton Drive NW, Atlanta, GA 30305
I’ll be signing copies of The Swan House, The Dwelling Place, The Promised Land, and The Long Highway Home.
Jill will be signing copies of her marvelous Art, Soul, and Destiny.
Whether you can meet us in person or not, be sure to check out Jill’s website where you’ll find her beautiful artwork as well as her beautiful soul.
I am so grateful for my precious fellow artist friend in France (and the US!)
ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.