A letter from Perrin to the Carlsbad Art Farm community
As many of you already know, we at Art Farm recently made the hard decision to stop offering summer camps. This means there will be no camps in 2019. We are also taking a hiatus from offering classes and workshops in 2019.
Art Farm launched 15-years ago with just myself and a handful of kids. It started as an idea to offer outdoor studio art education in the woods, with the goal of teaching young artists observational art techniques using traditional media and providing inspiration from live animal models and beautiful natural surroundings.
Art Farm evolved into a beloved local institution with week-long summer camps - averaging 400 students annually – where kids worked with our staff of talented local artists, spent time with our wonderful farm animals, took joy in wading in our creek, and took pride in their stunning portfolios presented to parents at our weekly Friday Family and Friends Art Show.
People ask me how I came up with the idea for Art Farm.
My answer is I wanted to create an environment similar to my farm girl upbringing in northern California where I spent long summer days roaming our orchards with my brother, sister and friends. We hung out in barns, down by the creek (always with a farm dog in tow!), and we always had sketchbooks and journals crammed in our back pockets. It was awesome!
As a young adult, I studied fine arts in San Francisco, where I was immersed for hours daily in drawing and painting from live models using paint, charcoal, pencil, and printmaking techniques. With Art Farm, I wanted to recreate that feeling of youthful summer farm days spent in the outdoors, and I wanted to use art as a way to deeply connect students to the experience. I also wanted to introduce Digital Art Age students to messy, traditional materials – because there’s no substitute for that tactile experience - and show them how artists create art from observing the living world. The Art Farm animals served as delightful models (instead of humans!)
It was critical that my instructors be professional artists operating at a high level of professional skill as painters, illustrators, or printmakers. I wanted kids to have that feeling of being in an authentic art studio, working with master artisans, and see that making art is not just child’s play but a legitimate lifetime pursuit both for personal pleasure and as a skill applicable to many professions. It wasn’t easy assembling such a staff, but I did it by creating an atmosphere that supported the teaching of art in an authentic way. This include keeping class sizes small, having high quality support staff, and investing in top quality materials. Many of my instructors worked with me for years, taking time each summer to come to Art Farm and teach children because they also believed it was an opportunity to get kids about art making.
So why quit now?
The short answer is it was simply time. I started teaching art 19-years ago, after retiring from a career in journalism, and launched Art Farm in 2004, when I was 48. Now I’m almost 64, my daughter is in college, and my husband and I would like more time to relax, travel and pursue personal creative endeavors. The Art Farm location is also our personal home. Preparing the grounds for kids each summer was a monumental effort, taking months, and preparing for camps was a full-time job for me. My husband and I have always taken great joy in sharing this habitat with local children, and if we could turn back the clock and become younger again then we would continue a while longer. That said, it was great while it lasted!
Art Farm was possible because of all the Art Farm parents through the years who supported our mission to teach traditional art skills through interaction with the natural world. So many of you sent your kids to our camps every summer and I loved watching your children grow up here, excited to come back to make art, reconnect with beloved instructors, staff, animals, and for all the traditions such as the Friday Boat Pageant and Creek Races. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for bringing your kids down bumpy old Sunny Creek Road, crossing that bridge into our secret world, and supporting our camps. And thanks especially to all you wonderful, dear-to-my-heart campers. You enriched my life. Oh, how I have loved seeing all your happy, smiling faces through all these years.
Perrin Weston, Owner/Director
Carlsbad Art Farm
Teaching traditional art skills through interaction with the natural world.
Carlsbad Art Farm is a privately operated outdoor art instruction facility in north coastal San Diego County offering classes, workshops, school field trips and award-winning summer camps. Our mission is to inspire and encourage a deep connection to animals and the natural world through traditional studio art education.