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“Painting the Invisible” Film Release

Painting the Invisible is a documentary film that follows American plein-air painter Jill Steenhuis as she navigates the landscapes of Provence in search of inspiration for her creative practice.

The film focuses on Jill’s life in France, where she leads a peaceful existence, and where silence, meditation and painting have become her habit of being. As she walks through the poppy fields, rides her horse through the pine forest, picks olives in the olive grove, the artist reflects on the importance of the natural world throughout her life and her work.

The documentary also recounts Jill’s extraordinary journey from Atlanta, Georgia to Aix-en-Provence where she met her husband and found her raison d’être.

Shot over a three-year span by Jill’s son James Ruffato, the film allows the viewer to enter into the quiet and intimate world of Jill’s prolific, creative, spiritual energy.

The trailer (below) is available for viewing.


The full-length documentary film is now available for purchase on Vimeo.

Click on this link to access the full-length film.

More on Filmmaker James Ruffato

James Ruffato is a Franco-American documentary filmmaker working between Aix-en-Provence and London. After attending the Maine Media College Young Filmmaker’s program and completing a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and Film Studies at King’s College London, James began working as a freelance filmmaker specializing in short format documentaries about art. Some of the institutions with which James has worked include La Panacée in Montpellier, the MRAC Occitanie, l’Abbey de Fontfroide, the J1 in Marseille and La Maison de Vente Leclere. James has also produced promotional content for King’s College London and the Savannah College of Art and Design. In conjuncture with his client-based work, James has recently completed his first feature film on his mother, American plein air painter Jill Steenhuis, released in June, 2020.


For more on James Ruffato and his work, visit his website.

Interested in learning more about Jill’s story?

Click here for more in Jill’s art book

This art book includes 166 pages of artwork, illustrations and writings, including poems, essays and letters by the artist.
Introduction by Michael E. Shapiro, Director of the High Museum in Atlanta