Jeff Davis

Jan 18, 2012 6:58 PM by Melissa Hawkes

Acadiana Painting Squirrel Hits National Spotlight

An amateur artist in Acadiana is getting national attention, but Winkelheimer Smith isn't your traditional artist. She's actually a squirrel.

Shyla Mouton said, "I never thought I would have a rodent. I didn't think they were very affectionate, but they are and get very attached to their owners."

Mouton saved Winkleheimer after she had a close call with a cat.

"One of the outside strays that we have knocked her out the tree," Mouton said. "I went out to grab her and I scooped her up. I thought she was dead at first, but she was still breathing."

After being nursed back to health, Winkleheimer started following Mouton around. She is a full-time artist and spends her days making dolls. Bright-eyed Winkleheimer is always watching close behind.

"She would pick up the paint brushes and pick up some of her twigs I'd give her to play with," Mouton said. "She would stand up to hold them, so it kind of looked like she was mimicking what I was doing."

I'll admit, it wasn't easy getting Winkleheimer to paint us a picture, after all she's become quite the star. Her YouTube video has almost 45 thousand hits. After an hour and a half of gnawing on a few nuts, getting some play time in, grooming herself and even trying to take a nap, she was ready to paint her masterpiece.

A few of her paintings have actually been sold on Ebay. Mouton said she thinks Winkleheimer's skills will just get better with more practice.

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