Born in Austria, Arnold Schmidt began treatment in 1986 at the House of Artists, a residential community of psychiatric patients with serious artistic practices, at Maria Gugging, near Vienna. His figures and faces, usually composed of several symmetrical circles, pulse with the movement of a quick hand. He layers loosely applied color over carefully composed sketches. Although an assistant helps him set up, he creates his work alone. He renders his figures using acrylic, crayon, pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor, centering them with no background.

In his painting, Schmidt often concentrates on figural work, making immediate and vigorous paintings of the human form. His figures are shown in a frontal view, directly facing the viewer. He often mixes his paint on the canvas, resulting in vivid, clear colors.