Female artist standing in front of a large painting on an easel in her studio
Kami Mendlik standing in her studio next to her painting “A Scarlet Moment on the Brule,” 40 x 30 in., oil on linen, 2021
Female artist painting outside with a lush green landscape in the distance
Kami Mendlik painting in Southern Provence France, 2019

How did you get started and then develop your career?

Kami Mendlik: In the beginning I didn’t think of painting as my career, I just knew I needed to paint. It didn’t even feel like it was a conscious decision at the time, more like an internal drive and desire that couldn’t be ignored. I soon realized that if I were to spend my life painting, I needed to earn a living doing so, and training and education would be necessary in order to become the best I could be.

Thirty years later, this very not straight and narrow path has led me here, an eternal student of life and painting. My quest for studying the countless nuances of color remains. Painting has supported me and my family for decades now and continues to do so. In 2008, I founded the St Croix River School of Painting in Minnesota where I live, teach, breath, and paint. I am currently in the final stages of writing and editing my book on painting and seeing the relativity of color to share with all.

How do you describe success?

For me success is not about ‘being’ successful but living this precious life to its fullest. To me, the art is our life, and painting my means of expression and communication. Success for me is the practice of being present in the moment, which is not always easy to do, but it’s a practice I bring awareness to every day. Saying yes to opportunities and painting my way through this journey. Success is being able to wake up and do it again tomorrow.

How do you find inspiration?

I don’t try to find it, it finds me. Inspiration finds me when I show up. I tell my students, I’m not inspired to paint, painting inspires me! Show up and do the work.

What is the best thing about being an artist?

Living this life doing what I love. Grateful that the sun will rise another day and when I wake, I get another chance to try it again. The practice of allowing curiosity to lead the way while studying the astounding limitless nuances of color. Paint as my vehicle of expression and communication. Delighting in the fact that we’re never going to get there, and that’s a good thing! Otherwise, why would we paint tomorrow? The process of the journey.

Who do you collect?

I have a beautiful collection of work, from paintings, to glass, to pottery, sculpture, and more. I LOVE art, it just makes life richer. I mostly have contempories, but a few have passed. I treasure my collection of Warren MacKenzie’s work, he was a true legend. When I was in my early twenties, I made a list of my goals and dreams. I wrote down every thought and desire I could possibly drum up for this life, the sky was the limit. One of my goals was to become a ‘good enough’ painter that my peers whom I respected and admired would want to trade with me some day. I since have traded over forty pieces with painters whom I have the greatest respect for, and I am honored to call my friends and peers. Each time we make a trade, a little piece of my dreams come true.

Oil painting of a riverbank with grasses and snow
Kami Mendlik, “Spirit Waters,” 18 x 24 in., oil on linen, 2021
Oil painting of colorful autumn trees on river bank
Kami Mendlik, “Prelude to Autumn,” 14 x 11 in., oil on linen, 2020
Oil painting of flowers on a hillside
Kami Mendlik, “North Shore Expression,” 16 x 20 in., oil on linen, 2021
Oil painting of green trees along a river
Kami Mendlik, “Gogebic on the Brule,” 12 x 12 in., oil on linen, 2020

To see more of Kami’s work, visit: www.kamimendlik.com



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