In the 1970’s and early 80’s, Schlinke danced with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and the Joe Goode Performance Group, both based in San Francisco. At that time, the San Francisco art and dance scene were strongly influenced by new concepts flowing from artists such as Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg, many of whom emerged from the hot house for avant-garde work at Black Mountain College, North Carolina. Much of Schlinke's approach to painting is founded on the experiences that she absorbed as a dancer in those decades. Before moving to San Francisco, she received a B.A. and M.A. in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently a resident of Austin, she grew up in Dallas, Texas.

Since relocating to Austin, Texas from San Francisco in 1994, Schlinke has exhibited her work at numerous venues including the Robert McClain Gallery in Houston, The Dallas Contemporary and the MAC, Women & Their Work, Texas State University in San Marcos, D Berman Gallery in Austin, D. M. Allison Gallery in Houston, the Dougherty Art Center in Austin, and Northern-Southern Gallery also in Austin. Before returning to Texas, she exhibited with the Braunstein-Quay Gallery in San Francisco.

“What interests me most is to find the shortest distance between the nature of the materials and the image produced. Working with brushes as well as pouring, rolling, compressing, sanding, washing, and other events, I look for an image that appears to be “naturally occurring” like rain or snow---something that is perpetually in transition. I make use of the uncanny resemblances that occur, allowing them to resonate, suggesting a narrative dimension.” Naomi Schlinke