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Meet Perrin Weston of Carlsbad Art Farm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Perrin Weston.

Perrin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In a nutshell, Carlsbad Art Farm’s mission is to inspire and encourage a deep connection to animals and the natural world through traditional studio art education.

It is an outgrowth of my roots growing up on a farm in northern California at a time when children had more freedom to explore open spaces and observe the natural world unhurried. As a kid, the perfect day for me was walking through endless woods with my dogs and a sketchbook. It still is!

My background in fine arts education, and as a mother, led me to the idea of sharing our 10-acres private woodland habitat in north coastal San Diego County with local students as an outdoor school for making art using traditional processes. Animals and the surrounding environment would serve as inspiration and subject matter. It started with just myself, a handful of students, and a goat adopted from the local humane society. Today, Art Farm welcomes more than 400 students annually who come to make art, visit with our many hobby farm animals, and spend time exploring our 10-acres riparian habitat. This year, for the first time, we have opened up classes to adults.

I have been doing this now for 14 years. It has been such a rewarding experience. I have watched students grow up here and it warms my heart to see them enjoying the same things I enjoyed as a young farm girl. I think the Art Farm mission is an important one. I hope you will join us.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest obstacle has been simply getting the word out that we are here, doing what we’re doing. Art Farm is a beautiful 10-acre property a half-mile down the last dirt road in the heart of Carlsbad. Nobody is going to find us by simply walking by a storefront. What’s helped is word-of-mouth over the years and the advent of social media, and the development of a good website.

When I first started, Art Farm as a private business was not profitable. It took a number of years to build our reputation and bring in enough students to support what we do here. Other than tuition, we receive no outside funding so I had to work hard for a long time without financial reward. Profits went to improving our offering as an arts school, quality materials, and paying instructors. It was and remains important to me that we offer classes using good materials. I want kids to experience something other than washable paints and magic markers.

Over time, Art Farm has become sustainable as a business, and I continue to invest in our offering. For example, we now have a printmaking program because I invested in a $10,000 custom-made, professional quality press and partnered with a master printmaker to offer instruction. Why? Because I want students to have access to these traditions and have the tactile experience of working with authentic art making tools with the guidance of a highly skilled instructor.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Carlsbad Art Farm – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are a small, private business with a mission is to inspire and encourage a deep connection to animals and the natural world through traditional studio art education.

We are particularly known for our award-winning summer camps, classes and workshops, and school field trips. We specialize in drawing, painting and printmaking. I am most proud of the community we have developed around this concept of making art as a way to focus students on animal life and the natural world. This includes our wonderful extended family of students, parents, instructors and support staff.

Many of our students have been coming to Art Farm for most of their young lives because they feel at home here with the animals, in the woods, with our staff. I’m proud of that!

Many of our instructors have worked at Art Farm for years. These are full-time working artists who have committed themselves to teaching students here because they feel supported and allowed to teach in a truly creative way, rather than in some prescribed cookie-cutter manner. I’m also proud of that

I am also proud that so many of our students return as valued teaching assistants. It’s rewarding when they take pride in our operation because they truly feel connected to what we do and why we do it.

What sets us apart? All of the above.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
This isn’t a business that will expand beyond where and what we are now. Art Farm is very much a place and a state of mind that can’t be duplicated or franchised.

It’s a family owned and operated atelier for young learners, and adults, where we have assembled talent to teach art in a beautiful woodland. We don’t aspire to be more than that.

Our hobby farms animals are here to give kids inspiration and access. Students hang out with chickens in a barn designed to allow visits without adult hovering (just like me when I was a farm kid). There’s really nothing better than being a child sitting in a barn with filtering light holding a big clucking bird. We have a circular corral under old growth oak trees designed to hold livestock, all so kids can sketch live animals. Our Nigerian Dwarf goats are always nearby, waiting to play (and maybe eat artwork if they get a chance). During visits to the creek, kids get their feet wet, study pond life and sketch crawdads, and sometimes write haiku. They then take their sketches into our Imaginarium Printmaking Lab where they might etch a crawdad on a plate using a diamond-tip tool, ink it up, and run it through the wheeled press. Oh, the magic of pulling a print! All of this experience has a flow designed to be natural, one thing feeding into another. It’s creative. We are all artists here, kids and adults alike, taking inspiration from our surroundings and from each other.

Perhaps, more than anything at Art Farm, I like that kids have a chance to spend time with adults who are dedicated to making art. I want them to get in their heads that art is worth making, that it’s a skill worth building, and it’s a habit worth keeping. It need not be a career choice but it’s something they can do all their lives, and they will be rewarded for it. Unfortunately, kids too often pick up that adults don’t make art and internalize the message that it’s mere child’s play.

So, in the end, I don’t know of a way to duplicate any of this, or make way for big changes, but that’s not what Art Farm is about. The only big change I see down the road is that someday – but not too soon – my husband and I will get old and decide to retire. After that Art Farm will close its gate.

Pricing:

  • Summer Camp 2018 Tuition: $519
  • Class for Grades 3-10: $235 for a series (subject to change)
  • Class Series for Adults (16 and up): $235 for a series (subject to change)
  • Field Trips start at $540 for 12 students. Additional $45 per student if more than 12.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Carlsbad Art Farm
Lexie Leong

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Lizbeth Flored

    December 14, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    This is a wonderful place for children and adults. Everyhting described is true and more! I have seen it grow and develop into a magical place that spurs creativity and learning. I’m hoping to join the adult classes next year. Keep up the good work!

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