I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a very talented artist in California (seriously, she’s freaking amazing). She lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and tries to live a simple life style. Her name is Jana Botkin and you can visit her website at cabinart.net. If you’d like to see inside the mind and life of an artist you can follow her on her blog.
One of the things that amazes me about Jana is how committed she is to living a simple life style. She doesn’t buy things she doesn’t need, and if she has something she doesn’t need or use anymore, she donates it. At the same time her home is cozy and feels inviting. She hasn’t taken such a steep minimalist approach that her house feels empty and cold.
Jana is very careful with her money and her tips reflect that. We could all learn something from this amazing and talented woman. Below is the first half of my interview with her. I think you’ll enjoy her honesty and sense of humor. I know I did.
I’ve been to your home and your studio and I didn’t see piles of paper anywhere. What is your secret?
I’ve developed the habit of sorting and tossing – while seeking a recipe, an address in my address book, a phone number in my studio, a book to read – any time I am looking for something, I take the opportunity to dump or erase the no longer viable things. There’s no need to turn it into an event – I just make it an ongoing habit.
That is a great idea! What about mail? How do you handle that?
I’ve been opening my mail by the trash for years – it’s a great help! It forces me to make decisions instead of putting those undecided items into a pile to be sorted and tossed later.
I know you enjoy reading. What is your advice on books?
The library is the best place to get books because then I don’t have to own them. The exceptions are business books that have things I need to refer back to again and also the novels by Maeve Binchy. Since she died last month I guess my collection is complete 🙁 Oh, and bible study books. We’ve become dependent on books and workbooks written by other people in order to study the Bible. What would I do without Beth Moore???
What about magazines?
Subscribe to nothing. Magazine articles are shallow and quickly outdated, and the ads just cause dissatisfaction. If there isn’t time to read it when it comes, it will multiply in the dark.
Ok, let’s talk about my favorite things! Shoes and purses!
If shoes hurt, rub, pinch, slop around the heel, make me trip, or in any way, ANY WAY cause me to hesitate before putting them on, they are GONE.
I should really abide by that rule. I have several in my closet that I just can’t wear because they hurt or slip off. What about purses?
I only own two purses: a Coach that I finally saved enough to buy in 1996 and a little Sack. Do they still make those? They are crocheted and lined. I have that one for when I dress up. I bought it on eBay for about a tenth its retail price!
So I’m guessing you don’t like to go shopping.
If you don’t use shopping as a recreational activity, you won’t see things to buy that you don’t really need.
Let’s talk about the Kitchen. That seems to be the biggest problem area in everyone’s home. How do you keep your kitchen so clean and organized?
No one-function-stuff is allowed in my kitchen. It has to perform three tasks or it is GONE. The exceptions are the juicer (which I use once a year for making jelly – *as a side note, Jana makes pomegranate jelly and it’s awesome!), the popcorn popper, and the blender. I don’t have woks, angel-food pans, bundt pans, nut grinders (a big knife works great), garlic presses (they are terrible to wash – use a big knife for that too), etc.
I know you like to knit. There is so much beautiful yarn out there. How do you keep yourself from buying it all of the time?
When I have an urge to buy more yarn, I sort through my stash. If I loved it enough to buy it a year or two ago and haven’t used it yet, I’ll probably still love it and will feel as if I have something new to knit with. I probably have three years of yarn, even while trying to be a minimalist. And I am, compared to other Knitters. “knitters” don’t have stashes- “Knitters” do. I am a Knitter. This principle of going through what you have that you may have forgotten about can be applied to anything – earrings, shoes, fabric if you are a quilter, tools, stationery, art supplies, colored tee shirts, etc.
Your house is so beautiful and cozy. Anything you want to share about your home?
My house is really out of style. If Perkins (Jana’s cat) dies, I will get a new couch. Then the rug will look wrong. Then the shabby stained armchairs will be pathetic. After that, the faded curtains will no longer be acceptable. But I’d rather have Perkins than a new couch. He is a couch destroyer, but the thought of being catless is incomprehensible to this childless woman!
There you have it! A look into the minimalist lifestyle of an artist. Do you think you could do it? I can hear my 30 plus purses crying right now. Hold on babies, mama’s coming. I lover her kitchen ideas and I really do need to follow her shoe rule. At this point many of my shoes have become decorations sitting on my closet shelves.
Friday Jana will be back! She will list her advice and other ideas so make sure to check back then! Oh, and don’t forget to check out Jana’s website and her blog http://www.cabinart.net/weblog/. See ya Friday!