Field Notes


Art was once her job. Now it’s Sharpie stains on the counter and too many pipe cleaners.

Clare Menzel, Whitefish Montana, ski, author


I ’m an artist. I’ve got a university diploma in a box somewhere, extensive work history as a graphic designer, and a portfolio of projects which say so. My B.A. in graphic design with a minor in marketing coupled with years spent as the senior designer for an international company was a big part of my identity, but that was years ago. The world was dancing to Gangnam Style the last time I had a desk job. These days I’m surrounded by markers in various stages of dryness (“Put the caps on, people!”), construction paper that has been cut into a thousand tiny pieces (which will end up on the floor), and more pipe cleaners than is probably necessary for any family to own. While we’re on the topic, why are they called pipe cleaners? They seem woefully inadequate for any job that actually requires cleaning. Or takes place in a pipe. But I digress.

I’m a stay-at-home mom of three kids. My art, and I use that word loosely, now consists of the occasional doodle I do (who else just heard a rooster?) after my children go to bed and writing witty captions for my Instagram feed.

I keep thinking that any day now I’ll have the time to sit and create paper collages on small canvases using tweezers and tiny scissors like I did when my oldest was my littlest and naps were a routine part of our day, but no one naps anymore.

I keep thinking I’ll find the time to write. After all, I do keep a note in my phone of all the book titles I’ve thought of, and isn’t that where all great novels start?

I keep thinking I’m just moments away from settling into a rhythm as an artist and writer but somehow I keep getting interrupted…case in point, someone is interrupting me at this very moment.

But they are the most fantastic interruptions ever.

My oldest wrote an exhaustive piece about why her dad should install a zip line that goes to the neighbor’s house across the street (I’m guessing you can spot the problem). My middle child uses Sharpies to draw pictures of raindrops that sometimes bleed through the paper onto the white countertop but we’re working on that. My youngest is the reason there are bits of construction paper all over and you can bet I’m attributing the overabundance of pipe cleaners to all three. [Note to self, research pipe cleaner projects.]

“I keep getting interrupted…case in point, someone is interrupting me at this very moment.”


There is art happening more often than not in our house. While I regret every time I’ve said yes to making slime–and I’m no farther along on writing a book than that note in my phone–I wouldn’t trade the moments I’ve spent creating art with my children for uninterrupted time to work on my own. These years of barely contained chaos will pass too quickly and I’ll have more uninterrupted moments than I know what to do with when they’re gone. Or so I’ve heard.

Of course my art matters, but they matter more.

Angela Miller was born in the Flathead Valley and enjoys the quiet solitude that being a mother provides. She’s also a fan of sarcasm.



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