A Red Deer woman with special needs has opened her own art exhibit featuring over a dozen paintings of cats. 

“I really love my cats and they’re rescue cats and I’m going to paint more,” said Natalie Schmidt.

Her "Cat-a-tude" exhibit opened at the Viewpoint Gallery within the newly-opened Harris-Warke Gallery. 

“The cat theme had started because we have rescue cats, so we actually have 10 rescue cats in the house so she has a lot of inspiration,” said Schmidt’s dad Jon Belanger.

Schmidt has always been interested in arts and crafts; a few years ago she started taking adult painting classes with Erin Boake.

“[She] has come to every single session without fail and has really grown as an artist,” said Boake.

“It’s a real amazing feat. Natalie’s really been outgoing and she is very high functioning to kind of go in to classes and just kind of fit in. I think Natalie naturally always has a good personality, a great laughter to get everybody involved. It’s amazing to see how she can become her own individual and flourishing as an adult,” said Belanger.

Natalie’s favourite part about the class is getting to meet new people, while her favourite part about her art is the textures of the paintings.

“Erin helps me paint them all and I paint the texture and then put a gloss coat on after to make it shine,” said Scmidt.

Schmidt’s teacher and her parents could not be more proud.

“I’m so thrilled, I’ve been in love with these paintings since she started making them and I was so excited to get them up on the walls and see them all together,” said Boake.

“I think it’s really amazing to see Natalie grow as a person to even be able to host something like this and chosen to do something like this is just amazing,” said Belanger.

While you’re at the show, make sure to check out the star, a painting of Schmidt’s cat named Baby.

“She was like a ninja and she looked so curious and wanting to help. When I brought home the painting she was like is that me or what,” said Schmidt.