Carrie Marill.

“I use these old irons as paper weights. I’ve always been drawn to pattern and color, so quilting was a natural interest for me. I am working on some drawings for large paintings I hope to do based on quilts.

This is a new studio for me, which is why it looks pretty sparse (although i really like it this way). My husband and I are sharing a studio in downtown Phoenix.

The old house has excellent light, realized I hadn’t painted to natural light in 8 years, so sitting down to paint is like seeing colors all over again. Luckily in the past I had these excellent lights which illuminated my working space with both warm and cool light (I’m sorry I don’t know their names, got them at an art supply store). Best fancy chair ever, it’s the most decadent thing I have in the studio, can’t believe how long I went sitting on wooden chairs with no back support.


I am a sucker for enamelware, it’s my combined love of vintage camping gear and Donald Judd details. Check out that ipod, think I could back up 4 computers on that beast. When the radio is on it means working time…If those lined up gouache tubes in the photo tray don’t say type A, not sure what else would? We put homasote on the walls since I’m always pinning stuff up it saves the original plaster walls from holes, plus it’s such a nice warm grey color and also acts as a sound insulator.

My National Geographic fetish.

We are expecting a baby in December, so needless to say I have not been so productive in the studio. I have 3 ideas I’m working on at once, which is how I like to work, that way I can take breaks between different bodies of work.”

Carrie Marill received her BA in 2002 from San Francisco State University and her MFA from Cornell University in 2004, both in painting. Marill’s work has been published inNew American PaintingsWired MagazineSouthwest ArtThe New TimesLA Weeklyand LA Times. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Miami, Texas, and Arizona.

FROM YOUR DESKS: What draws you to birds?
CARRIE MARILL: I took a liking to painting birds because of the intense detail and patterning in their feathers but the more I looked the more I absorbed and for some reason all their information stuck in my brain. I go on trips and start naming off birds and am surprised myself at how much I have retained because ordinarily I do not have that type of memory for things. I think the visual imprinting of working with a subject matter I am truly fascinated by and the constant looking and investigating helps make it all stick.
I find if I am exposed to a subjects character I can better shape the composition and gaze.
FYD: How is their death symbolic to you?
CM: I really want to see most of them up close and painting them is the best way I can get in there and see them. The other way I am able to get up close to birds is by checking out the dead ones I find. My husband is totally grossed out by this but I am one of those weirdo’s that will pull over and drag something off the road so it doesn’t get run over a dozen times (seems disrespectful to run over the dead) and so I can see it up close. I want to see a coyote or a road runner (I live in Arizona) and they are too fast and elusive to see in active life. I take what I can get and check them out in death. So the death aspect in my work is me being pragmatic.
FYD: I recently gifted myself with Bird Songs From Around the World. Any favorite bird books?  
CM: My favorite kind of bird books are the random ones I find in used book stores, I realize this is broad but I don’t really have one specific favorite. I love vintage books but also favor beautiful photographs as well, so keeping my options open keeps my interests open as well.
If you’re not inclined to start reading a bunch about birds but would like to know or see more, the David Attenborough “The Life of Birds” series is fantastic. Also just paying attention to your surroundings, you may find there are more birds in your life than you might not have noticed before. I think this is one of the reasons I had initially taken an interest in them. Birds are one of the few species that can relatively co-habitat with us humans (if we aren’t destroying their habitats, which unfortunately happens too often).
I take what I can get and check them out in death. So the death aspect in my work is me being pragmatic.
FYD: You recently crossed over to a farm animal collective.  Are the eyes a focal point; perhaps into their soul? It’s hard to think about eating bacon after seeing this guy.
CM: The farm animals project was purely an experiment on myself. I was trying to guilt myself out of eating meat. I had hoped that by creating this intense gaze in them that would pierce thru me and get me to not eat them, it didn’t work. I like meat. I tried but I got pregnant shortly after I finished that series and my body was craving animal protein. Guiltily, back on meat for now…
FYD: You really work the gaze.
CM: Getting to know your subject can help construct the gaze, case in point with many of the birds. I find if I am exposed to a subjects character I can better shape the composition and gaze. Some animals and birds are bashful while others are showy and loud. The images I chose to paint from have to exemplify the character of the subject or else it doesn’t work. I wouldn’t know this unless I got out there and checked ’em out. Wish I could go on more trips because the more I see the better the work.
FYD: Please share the vitals on that dog and those kittens?
CM: The dog is Shackleton he is a Portuguese Water dog, best dog ever – no shedding and an awesome personality! We often think he’s a small human walking around in a dog’s costume. The kittens were found under our studio they are five weeks old, Shack is learning how to be a big brother. Collectively they make it really hard to get any work done.
Nab what work is left of Carrie’s at the fantastic 20×200.

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