“My family first came from Pennsylvania on vacation to Megansett in 1967,” recalls artist Mimi Schlichter. “Little did I know the lifelong connection for which the foundation was laid—that 53 years later, I would be living here, and painting would be my career.”
Schlichter has been painting vistas of Cape Cod for over two decades now, since moving to Falmouth in 1997. Having dabbled in a variety of subject matters throughout her journey, she most often finds herself drawn to skies over water, something of which the Cape is in no short supply. As she puts it, every day, every evening, is “a display of God’s creativity.”
“Psalm 19:1 captures it better than I can,” she says. “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”
A member of Cape Cod Church in Falmouth and Minister of Music at Christ Lutheran Church, also in Falmouth, Schlichter’s faith is a driving influence in her life and in her work. Her paintings often reflect that faith, imbuing a sense of awe and wonder into every brushstroke. “Artists through the years have adopted creative muses—a person or personified force who they claim to be their source of inspiration. Quite simply, my muse is God, or more specifically, the Holy Spirit,” she explains. “Every painting begins with prayer, and a time of quiet. Prayer continues in and throughout the session, so that the process becomes a sacred experience in and of itself.”
About two years back, Schlichter’s creative process underwent a significant change. Previously describing her style as impressionistic realism, she surprised herself late one night with an accidental, exhilarating venture into the abstract. She took a painting knife to a piece that wasn’t turning out how she wanted. In an expression of her frustration, she smeared the paint around the canvas. “What followed was a dramatic shift in my painting style,” she says. “I spent the next month painting only abstracts. Then, I used that experience to inform my landscapes. It was such a liberating experience.” Being accustomed to painting from a photograph, with a plan and a destination in mind, Schlichter found this new, less literal style at once exciting and freeing, while at the same time calming. It was a defining moment in her artistic career that is best described as divine.
Schlichter’s advice for aspiring artists is to “do it for the joy of the process. Guard your creations as the dear and precious things they are,” she says, urging artists to not let constructive criticism deter them from what they love and enjoy. “Paint, sing, dance—for the sheer joy of it!” she enthuses. It’s advice she has taken to heart herself, creating pieces that are very clearly wrought from the soul—each and every brushstroke coming together to imbue a sky with joy, light and incomparable spirit, somehow capturing the uncapturable.
Over the years, Schlichter has shown at galleries in several locations. As her painting style changed, she made the conscious decision to move her work to her home studio. “I value the opportunity to interact directly with a perspective client,” she explains. “I love to ask questions—to learn of their interests, their likes and dislikes, to watch what makes their face light up—so that whether they select something already hanging on my gallery walls, or I create something unique for them as a commission piece tailored to their size and color needs, the relationship and connection we establish continues when they take the painting home.”
When asked about her favorite work, Schlichter says, “There was a painting I did about 15 years ago, that I titled ‘The Real Me.’ It was an accidental painting. I caught a reflection in a mirror of my legs in my ripped knee painting jeans and thought it was an intriguing angle, so I painted it on an old, repurposed canvas. Then, I took the leftover paint on the palette and used it to fill in the background. Since there were remnants of texture from old paintings underneath, it caught the paint, and a sky over the water emerged, unintended. It is the singular most personal piece I have ever created.” That is what makes Schlichter’s work so intriguing—realistic or abstract, her art is always personal, exquisitely presenting the ways in which she looks at the world, reveling in the miracles of God and basking in the unmatched beauty of a Cape Cod sky. – Allyson Plessner
Details for Mimi’s Art Gallery and Studio location and hours may be found at mimisart.com