We love to connect with local artists here at PEAC. Each month we dedicate our display walls to different local artists, giving them a place to showcase their talent and even offer some pieces for sale. This month we were lucky enough to have Mark Fenton of Handmade Art Studios share his art with us.
Mark Fenton is a co-owner of Handmade Art Studios in Bordentown, New Jersey. He began his life as an artist by learning woodworking from his dad before studying art at Ewing High School , where he tried all sorts of media. He then went on to study graphic design at Antonelli Institute in Philadelphia. However, his grueling day job soon took over. He decided to cut his studies short and began working at his day job full-time. Feeling frustrated and trapped being an auto-mechanic, he eventually took a different route. Mark began focusing his time on yoga, meditation, photography and woodworking. His passion for photography soon transitioned into a full-time career.
Although Mark's photographs did not click with the art-buying public at craft shows, a few samples of his wooden wall art were eagerly purchased. For Mark, art is not a soliloquy to be launched into the void; it's something to share with other human beings. So his path was chosen for him.
Out of the pressure-cooker since 2012, Mark works in a two-story backyard studio, where his two young sons come and go. Upstairs, surrounded by ad art, books, and old bits of machinery that please and inspire him, he creates his designs. Downstairs, he implements those designs with his band saw, planers, jig saw, belt sander, drill press, computer-guided router and a variety of hand tools – including paint brushes. He also has anvils and forges for metal work.
Recently Mark has joined forces with artists Heather Brainard of Hamilton and Laura Pointon of Flemington to form Hand Made Studios and Artisan Markets. They host shows on both sides of the Delaware to showcase their own art as well as those of carefully screened artists and artisans.
With ongoing experience in the therapeutic benefits of making art, Mark chairs "Bordentown Residents Against Drugs". He works with the substance-abuse counselor at a local high school, helping students “get things out visually.” Whether the feelings are positive or negative, whether the resulting artwork is to be shared or kept private, Mark is glad to be “teaching another coping skill to deal with life.”
Back in the studio, he is happiest working at his own speed and taking himself in new directions, then seeing whether his latest work will stop traffic at a show. “If I have an idea, I give it a go. Experiments often produce happy accidents. There's no such thing as failure; it's another kind of discovery.”
Reclaimed materials is another medium Mark loves to experiment with. The recycling is in harmony with the family's lifestyle, which includes roof-top solar panels and enough home-grown vegetables to last through the winter.
A Brief Interview
How would you describe your art style?
I really like my art to connect with people on an emotional level - anything that evokes an emotional response or helps people on a spiritual level. I also create with my friend Heather and Morgan. Morgan helped with many of the signs in the PEAC displays.
What is your art background?
I took art and design classes in high school and I did some college, but I am mostly self-taught.
What is Handmade Art Studios?
Handmade Art Studios is my team of artisans. We love to create together and promote one another. We do shows around the tri-state area showing and selling our work.
How do you make these unique pieces? What inspires you?
I am a CNC Artist. I design my creations on paper, iPad, or computer and then program my machines to do the carving. My inspiration comes from my boys, parents, my wife, friends and customers. Some of my best pieces were inspired from conversations I have had with others.