Made in Vermont: Sweet Enemy Art

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 6:31 PM EDT
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UNDERHILL, Vt. (WCAX) - The woods of Vermont are full of creatures, big and small. Tucked up on a dirt road, a remote Underhill studio is where critters come to life.

“I create creatures that are strange and sweet,” said Kristin Richland, the owner and artist behind Sweet Enemy Art. Some might say that name perfectly captures her creations. “It’s very animal-focused, but the animals aren’t necessarily realistic. They’re dream-like, they’re playful, sometimes they’re spooky.”

Artistic ability runs in the family, Richland said. Her dad picked up woodworking, and her mom honed in on crafts of all kinds.

“They didn’t necessarily get to do art as a job, but they always were doing something creative,” Richland said.

So, when she said she wanted to go to art school, they were on board. That’s where Richland learned the ins and outs of art, though her style came with time. Inspiration for her work comes from all corners of her life, like the woods she lives in.

“I like this guy because he’s looking like you just interrupted him and he’s really grumpy about it,” she said while sketching a raptor. It also comes from the books she reads and even real-life furry friends, like resident studio-cat, Clementine.

“She’s definitely an inspiration herself, she appears in several pieces,” Richland laughed.

Dragons, serpents, even bears with wings-- the creatures in her creations are often times other-worldly.

“I am on a huge unicorn kick right now. I think I’m reliving my ‘80s childhood in that regard,” she added.

Richland’s work is in galleries across the state, and she does a lot of craft shows, too. Over the years, some of her artistic animals have become familiar to art lovers.

“I am known as the lady who paints the blue rabbits, so rabbits have been something I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. Like, rabbits and mice,” she said.

But it doesn’t matter what animal is taking the spotlight, Richland said, her work is mostly about the mood.

“One of my other really well-known pieces is a cat with a coffee mug and he looks very sleepy. And I’ve had people reach out from all over the U.S. to say, ‘Someone sent me this card and it lives by my coffee maker and this is how I feel every morning, thank you,’” she explained, as making art that people resonate with is what makes this job sweet.