Good Reads In Life: The 54

Cape Cod Life  /  September/October 2021 /

Writer: Christina Galt

“What began as a self-imposed discipline took on a life of its own.”

For Cape artist Mimi Schlichter, painting from her car at beach parking lots was something she assumed she would always be able to do.

Doing so one day at Chapoquoit Beach in West Falmouth this past spring, she thought to herself, “Why didn’t I do this more last year?” Then she remembered. In April of 2020, the Town of Falmouth closed its beach parking lots as a proactive measure to reduce Covid 19 viral spread. “It meant I lost the option of painting beach scenes from the front seat of my car.” 

When Schlichter returned home that day, she researched the dates the parking lots were closed in 2020 and found it was April 1st through May 24th, a total of 54 days. “The idea came to me to celebrate how life is different this year. So on April 1, 2021, I began a series of 54 paintings of the Falmouth town beaches. My personal commitment was to complete the paintings in 54 days, one a day, every day, by May 24,” she remembers.

Schlichter traveled to all nine of the beaches the Town of Falmouth maintains. Each painting was done in the alla prima style, translated from the Italian “in one start.” Alla prima paintings are typically completed in one sitting, while the paint is still wet, so her one rule was that the paintings were done when she left the parking lot, with no refinements added later in the studio.  Most were painted with palette knife. “Painting alla prima was a great lesson to me in loosening up, and working quickly to capture the broader vision of what I was looking at,” she explains. “The scenery acted more like a prompt, rather than something I tried to capture in exact detail.”

Schlichter started posting her paintings to a Facebook group called “Fabulous Falmouth” where members share positive posts. “The project took on a life of its own,” she shares. “The responses were beautiful and it became apparent the paintings were a bright spot in a lot of peoples’ days.” When the paintings began to sell, she realized a traditional show of the new works would not be possible, and began to entertain the thought, “Maybe I should make these into a book.” 

Day 29 – Chapoquoit Beach on a misty, overcast (ok, yes, rainy) day. Subdued colors. And I felt the nudge to go old school today, with brushes, rather than palette knife. Kinda like it. Different than the others. It was quite literally painted through the windshield wipers.

“The 54: 54 Falmouth Beach Paintings in 54 Days,” became a celebration of how life looks so much different this year from 2020, and is the result of Schlichter’s commitment to those 54 days. It includes QR codes that lead to videos Schlichter captured while painting. The collection honors the beauty of Falmouth’s beaches, even in the off-season. She shares, “It has been a delight to capture nature in a variety of weather conditions and to bring joy to so many–something needed now more than ever.”

To learn more visit MimisArt.com

Christina Galt

Christina Galt is the Digital Editor at Cape Cod Life Publications. Born and raised on the Cape, Christina has always had a love for the ocean and everything "Cape Cod." She found herself the perfect home away from home at the University of Rhode Island and double majored in Sociology and Gender & Women’s Studies. After graduating, Christina came back to the Cape and started her journey at Cape Cod Life. She spends most of her free time with her family, especially her chocolate lab Sadie, and enjoys spending summers on her family’s boat.