Young artists find animals, education at camp

CARLSBAD — Tucked away in a woodland habitat just a few minutes from the Carlsbad Village is one of North County’s best-kept secrets — the Carlsbad Art Farm.
Since 2007, Perrin and Chase Coman have been transforming their 10-acre farm into a summer art camp unlike any other. They invite the community’s aspiring artists to learn from the farm’s resources and talented instructors utilizing a traditional studio method.
“Art, animals and nature — it doesn’t get better than that!” said Perrin Coman, a professionally trained artist herself.
Coman said the farm is the ideal setting for such a unique art program. The acreage offers plenty of space for outdoor classrooms in Carlsbad’s native vegetation, while the farm animals serve as live models for each class. The opportunity to work in such an environment helps campers understand the important skill of “drawing from life,” she said.
“You have to really observe,” Coman said. “Animal models move — that’s why you have to really develop a visual memory.”
Coman and Carlsbad Art Farm’s instructors take a very hands-on approach to help campers better understand how to draw each animal. Although the camp is far from a petting zoo, the artists are invited to interact with the animals — to actually touch them and feel various parts of their bodies — to gain a better sense of what they should draw.
“It really teaches children to get away from thinking any kind of oval will do, to see how this animal is shaped and try and reflect that in our drawings,” she said.
The campers are taught to draw each animal in a traditional studio art method, one that most schools have strayed away from over the years, Coman said. Using art horses to observe and hold media the correct way, campers learn to draw lightly and sketch knowing that they aren’t always going to get it right the first time around.
“Children are hungry for that kind of instruction,” she said. “They love it — it’s like you’ve given them a piece to a puzzle that’s been missing.”
Although some campers are tentative at first, Coman said the camp’s engaging environment helps them take their minds off the fact that they “can’t do art.” Camp instructors use mistakes made by famous artists, oftentimes found in sketchbooks, to help encourage the campers along in the learning process, she said.
“It’s just a matter of being given the right information and practice,” Coman said. “You can’t draw without practice, that’s just the way it is.”
When not involved in a class session, campers are allowed to explore the farm and hang out with the animals, including an alpaca named Harry Potter and the family dog, Hilda. While the environment is far from what most of North County’s youth are used to, Coman said that campers quickly take to the farm and feel like they “own the place.”
“We like kids to come out here and say ‘this is neat,’” Coman said. “They never want to play video games or anything.”
For more information on programs offered by the Carlsbad Art Farm, visit or


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