Q&A: Afton Love on landscape, beeswax and home

I love the simplicity of the materials used. Rocks and beeswax are cool. Cool art.


Afton Love is an Oakland-based artist who works with graphite, beeswax and tracing paper to create large-scale portraits of rock-laden landscapes and intimate studies of the cracks and crevices in between. She’s also my sister, but I swear I’m not biased when I say that her work is awe-inspiring, larger than life — even as it depicts massive landscapes and boulders. Afton is currently self-employed as an artist and was recently accepted to the prestigious Helene Wurlitzer Artist Residency in Taos, New Mexico, for three months of painting bliss. To get herself there, she’s launched a crowd-funding campaign, which you can check out here. I asked her four questions about our home, her process and her inspirations.


You’re my sister, so obviously we had the same upbringing. We grew up on a beautiful piece of land in Northern California with a real homestead feel, which led us to have a really…

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My Lovely 1″ Binder

Back when I first started pursuing minimalism, I was nervous to apply it to my schoolwork. Throughout college (until this semester), I had a separate binder for every class. Every morning, I would scramble to put the materials I needed for the day into a backpack, trying (and failing most of the time) not to forget anything. Sometimes, I would be across campus with some unexpected free time to study, but I wouldn’t have my notes for a certain class. I decided to try to change my ways this semester.

Currently, I have a one 1″ inch binder that houses all of my notes for all of my classes. I thought it would be confusing at first, but it isn’t at all. My notes are separated by class and I always have them with me. All I need to remember in the morning is my one, beautiful, teal binder and a pencil. Now that I think about it, it’s like I’m back in fifth-grade with my Trapper Keeper. Oh man, I loved that thing. I guess I’m just regressing back to the simpler times of childhood. It’s working great so far.

Now, I know that I’m going to run out of space at some point in the semester. After all, drawing benzene reactions in organic chemistry uses up a lot of paper. So, I’ve decided to move the notes to a separate, larger binder after the first exam in each class. That way I can keep my portable binder light, and I have all of my notes to study for the final safe in my dorm.

And here she is,





My Lovely 1″ Binder

The Endless Journey

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“The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti

I think this quote perfectly sums up the journey of minimalism, at least how I see it from standing here at the beginning. Minimalism is not a one-time fix for our life. It is constant, intentional living. It is evaluating every ‘thing’ in our lives and deciding whether it deserves to be part of our life. These ‘things’ will change, but the one thing that should not change is the value we are getting from our ‘things’. Once we control our things and not let them control us, we can learn about ourselves.

To me, endless seems unbearably long. The following quote helps to break down the endless river into a discipline that can be strengthened every day.

“Consider every thought you have as a suggestion, not an order. Right now, my mind is suggesting that I feel tired. It is suggesting that I give up. It is suggesting that I take an easier path. If I pause for a moment, however, I can discover new suggestions. My mind is also suggesting that I will feel very good about accomplishing this work once it is done. It is suggesting that I will respect the identity I am building when I stick to the schedule. It is suggesting that I have the ability to finish this task, even when I don’t feel like. Remember, none of these suggestions are orders. They are merely options. I have the power to choose which option I follow.” –James Clear

My father has always said he admires the discipline he sees in me. I always think that’s funny because I don’t view myself as being very disciplined. Clear’s quote has definitely helped me strengthen my discipline and respect myself for it.  I am choosing the option to adopt a minimalist lifestyle to cultivate myself into the person I want to be.

P.S. The picture above is actually my desktop on my laptop. I don’t know if it is a lake or river, but it always calms me when I look at it. I keep my desktop clear other than one or two folders on the side. Helps with peace of mind when I’m busy at school. 

The Endless Journey

Decluttering for the New Semester

I will be returning to my university to resume classes next week and I am ready to take on the new semester as an aspiring minimalist. I’ve got big plans. When I left school for winter break, I just abandoned my dorm in whatever state it happened to be in. Exhaustion from finals forced me to lay in my bed watching Netflix while I waited for my mom to come pick me up. I could have been using that time to tidy up and get rid of things I no longer needed, but you know. College.

So, my first order of business when I go back will be to sort through all of my notebooks and decide what to keep and what to discard. I am anticipating that this will be difficult because I have never thrown away materials from a class so soon after finishing it. Additionally, the information is important to my major and, therefore, my life (at least what my life looks like right now).

I might try the tactic of putting everything I don’t know if I need into a box at the back of my tiny closet. If I don’t go digging around for anything for month or two, I’ll just toss the box without looking. Okay, maybe I’ll look a little, but I promise to throw away most of it.

My second task will be to declutter my t-shirts. I have no idea how I manage to keep collecting free t-shirts, but I’m drowning in them. I must have added ten to my collection last semester. Ugh, the life of a student. I’ll count how many I have when I get back to school, but my goal is to throw away 75% of them. T-shirts really clutter up my clothes drawers. Maybe this will motivate me to put more effort in dressing every day as well.

That should be enough for one day. The rest of the time will be spent catching up with friends and relaxing before the cycle of procrastination and panic begins again. This may be surprising given how I’ve talked about school so far, but I really do love college and am excited to get back into the swing of things.

Decluttering for the New Semester

My Introduction to Minimalism

My current definition of a minimalist is someone who lives with intention and creates meaning out of experiencing life firsthand, not through stuff.

My journey to minimalism has been mostly on the computer, aided by the handy dandy Internet. However, it all began with a good, old-fashioned book. I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, for my best friend and ended up reading the whole thing before giving it to her. It’s a great book that you’ve probably heard of. If you are unsure about it, just read it. You won’t regret it.

Inspired by Marie Kondo’s philosophy of only keeping the items that spark joy in me, I decluttered my room. I’m a college student, so I don’t have an entire house to declutter. The process was pretty quick for me. And it felt so, so good. The most difficult part was throwing away mementos, but I got through it slowly. Now, I’m only surrounded by things that I love.

I wasn’t satisfied, however. I began my online research about how other people are leading minimalist lifestyles and I stumbled upon an awesome Youtube channel. LightByCoco kept me inspired to continue my journey of minimalism. Now I’m here.

I have found plenty of other resources and inspiration online. That could be another blog post. I will probably go more in-depth about specific parts of my minimalism journey later as well, but this is a good overview for now.

My Introduction to Minimalism


I don’t know why I’m starting a blog. I guess I feel compelled, or maybe it’s just another procrastination mechanism. College students will do anything to not do the work they’re supposed to do.

So, welcome to my blog, Minimalist Monster. Don’t ask why I chose monster. I don’t know. Evidently, I don’t know a lot of things.

One thing I do know is that I’m an aspiring minimalist. This past summer I got rid of a ton of stuff and now I’m in the hard part: maintaining minimalism. Maybe I’m starting this blog to keep myself accountable. I don’t have a plan for this, so we’ll see how everything turns out.