Artist Interview: Miriam Badyrka



I met Miriam Badyrka at the Talisman Gallery where I was showing my work in Portland, Oregon in 2000. We were both members of the gallery. Miriam, who I call Mimi (hope you don’t mind me saying that Mimi), creates really beautiful patterned paintings. There are colorful organic shapes and swirls and patterns that draw the viewer in but I will let her explain her work and process in the interview below.

When I moved to Bend in 2003, Mimi and I became penpals. I love the exchange of real live letters and I’m so happy to have a friend who enjoys that as well. We share a love of gardening and the outdoors, taking long walks, making stuff and sharing colorful art with the world.

I hope you will enjoy Miriam’s art interview.

Miriam painting a bicycle.

When did your artistic journey begin?

I think it began when I was born, and will continue until I die.

In considering this question, I realized that I don’t think it is a journey at all. I am not going anywhere, if that makes any sense. I am neither following a path or making one. I would compare it to an excavation. There is something there under all that stuff, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I keep on digging in hopes of a find.

My art uncovers the good I have in me. It is the best part of myself made visible.



Select 3 words to describe your artistic style.

This is a really difficult question. I have spent more time thinking about this than any other. My first impulse was to say things like cheerful or frivolous, but one of my resolutions for this year has been to really think critically about what I am doing artistically. Recently, I heard a poet’s talk about how he reads a poem (fascinating BTW) and so I am trying to approach my work in a different way.

Contained. I am really interested in structure. I like grids and geometrics and solid black lines. Things to stay within, and things to break out of.

Layered. There are layers of ink, layers of paint, layers of color, a substrate of some kind underneath, stitching. Layers of meaning added over time, meaning added by me, meaning added by historic contex, meaning that is brought to the work by viewers.

Time. Time passed. Time spent. Time taken. Time well used. Time wasted.


What drives you to come up with ideas for your work, what are your sources of inspiration?

Doodling is the basis of everything that I do. I think doodling is the drawing version of dreaming.

I spend part of every day doodling. I make sure something else is going on and pick up a pen. Doodling is different than drawing. Drawing is when you decide to draw something, like a dog. You sit there intending to draw a dog, and the expectation is that you will arrive at something that represents a dog when you are through. Doodles happen while you are paying attention to something else.

But I do look at lots of things. Patterns, tribal and primitive art, decorative arts, fiber arts, and anything pre-Brunelleschi and the “invention” of perspective in Rennaisance painting interest me most. I like shape, not form. I am not interested in recreating a 3D world on a 2D plane.

And, although it is a completely cliche thing to say, there is a never ending source of beauty in the world around us, all we have to do is look for it.


What do you want to say through your art?

I am not at all certain that I really do have anything at all to say through my art. The act of working, of making, of producing is what is important to me. The finished piece is proof that I did something while I was here, almost like graffiti. My work marks time taken and time spent, patience, persistence and repetition

I don’t want to do anything original, I think originality as a concept is overrated. I want to be connected to all the people that have ever made marks.

There is a visual language inherent in the shapes and patterns of traditional ornament. These beautiful shapes and patterns have been given many meanings according to culture, place and time. Every user has brought a new layer of meanings to these shapes and patterns. I also believe that every viewer brings a bit of himself as well.


What is your art process like?

When I begin a new body of work (paintings), I take my giant pile of doodles and spread them all over and stare at them, and then after awhile, I know what I am doing. That sounds so stupid! But, it really is what happens. I stare at a canvas and I know what I need to do with it.

I generally map out a grid and go from there. I pour a design first. I used to make a goo out of Elmer’s glue and acrylic medium, but then they invented Clear Tar Gel which has the same properties.  Sometimes I build up a surface texture in an area with acrylic mediums. I add paint in layers until I know it is time to stop. Then, I will usually pick out or add elements by embroidery.

I have been on a painting hiatus at the moment, and have been concentrating on the embroidered part of books and needles which has a different objective.They are just started, and they just happen. Like a doodle, I have no plans and no preconceptions of what I will end up with.


Describe what “Art Success” looks like to you.

I think success is a moving target. If you ask me a couple of months from now, I will probably give a different answer. I do have things I want to accomplish though.

My goals for this year are:

To figure out how all the things (books, embroideries, paintings) I am doing fit together, or if they are separate entities.

To paint more this year than last, because it is a joyous activity and I am happiest when I do it.

To improve my embroidery skills, because I think that is a direction I am moving heavily towards artistically. I see it playing a greater role in what I am doing artistically.

To actively pursue shows to get my work back in view.

To get myself out of my studio and back into the art community.

To revive my newsletter and clean up my mailing list.

And Then

Are you showing anywhere now or in the near future?

No, and I am embarrassed about that fact. It has been a money issue more than anything else.

embroideryWhat’s your current or next art project?

I have several things going at the moment. Everything is  experimental though.

One is my on going books & needles project (
thedoodler/books-needles-project) which came to me in a dream.

I  am experimenting with combining printing and embroidery, but it is still in very early stages.

I am also embroidering holes. Technically it is cutwork, but since it is randomized, I call them holes. I am not sure where I am going with this either.

However, I am starting a new series of paintings as soon as my canvas order comes in. I can’t wait!

Doodle2010You have a wonderful blog, titled the Doodler. Do you enjoy Blogging, if so, what are some of the benefits you’ve found from the activity?

I guess I do. I had my doubts when I started the Doodler ( I would stick with it. I thought it would be one of those things I would do for a bit and then abandon. So no one is more surprised than I am to find out that I have been blogging since Jan 2007.

I have learned from blogging how deep my doodle obsession is, and how fascinating I find the entire process. It is from writing about doodles that I came to realize that doodling is the drawing version of dreaming, an easily activated link to my subconscious.

Since I am writing to be read by others, blogging makes me think things through more thoroughly than I would otherwise. I am not an introspective person by nature, so it is really helpful. I have found this interview really helpful as well, it has made me aware of how unfocused I have been of late. Thank you. Lindy, for making me think things through.

Anything else you want people to know about you?

That I am lucky that Lindy Gruger Hanson is my friend! I think you should all rush out and buy everything that she produces. Then, you should go to the Doodler ( and read the interview that I did with her. I think we have both learned surprising things about each other.


4 thoughts on “Artist Interview: Miriam Badyrka

  • March 10, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Nice story, hey I came across this story while searching for music news updates. Thanks for sharing I’ll tell my friends about this too.

  • March 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    doodling is the drawing form of dreaming — aha! yes! i think of stained glass when i look at some of the imagery here — rich jewel tones…mmmm…

  • March 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Her palette is similar to yours, which draws me in right away. I also feel deeply satisfied by the “leading” she does. I find myself thinking that her stuff would make great fabric – and that quilts made out of it would blow the socks off of a lot of people. I love the picture of her painting the pipe. So beautifully, her knee-jerk design works in that shape and physics. And I like her. I like what she has to say. Thank you again for sharing a world you know and I wish I did.


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