Carving a niche

David Plant makes his mark with fantastical linocut prints

David Plant shows off a couple of prints in his studio.

David Plant shows off a couple of prints in his studio.

Photo by Rachel Bush

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Although he now lives in Chico, David Plant considers himself lucky to have grown up in Daly City, located just a stone’s throw from San Francisco. As a young artist, he was able to immerse himself in the eclectic art hub of the West Coast, frequenting museums such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, de Young Museum and Legion of Honor.

During one particular trip to the de Young, he spotted a painting of a train rolling along the countryside, made by famed folk artist Grandma Moses. “I loved it,” said Plant during a recent interview. “I really like her stuff because it’s folk art, which is what I like to do, too.” Her personal journey held extra significance for Plant. As a self-taught painter who first started her craft around age 80, Moses came to symbolize tenacity and following one’s dreams, regardless of age or other circumstances.

But Plant’s art pursuits started while he was much younger. “I was born in ’57, and I’ve been making art my whole life, so that’s a long time,’’ he explained. In the late-1970s, he received his associate of arts degree from Skyline College in San Bruno, and used the knowledge from his classes, along with his own curiosity, to continue fueling his creativity.

Work oozed out of Plant in the form of ceramics, wood carvings, intricate ink and pen drawings, and jewelry (he donned his own hand-crafted silver necklace during our interview).

One of David Plant’s animal-themed linocut prints.

Photo courtesy of Doug Churchill

While he’s dabbled in nearly every medium, he’s most well-known for his whimsical, folk art style of printmaking, where the likes of armadillos and bushy-tailed foxes live in harmony, surrounded by wooded forest scenes. Working in his garage/makeshift studio, he carves his ideas onto linoleum blocks, before adding ink and then transferring the results to paper.

With the help of business mentor Doug Churchill (of the local We Care A Lot Foundation), Plant has sold and exhibited many of his prints around the Chico and Redding areas.

“He’s had his art displayed at the Chico Art Center, the Chico State Diversity show, Old City Hall Arts Center in Redding, and he has a permanent display at Far Northern Regional Center. And he’ll be vending at Chico Walks For Autism this Spring,” Churchill explained. “David is one of our most prolific artists.”

“It all comes out of my head, and there’s always a new idea,” explained Plant, who added that he rarely struggles with creative blocks. His home is decorated with countless figurines, drawings and prints (many of which are his own). First-place ribbons from various arts and crafts fairs punctuate many of his works, including a large maroon dollhouse filled with tiny windows, passageways and depictions of domestic life. “It’s neat, huh?”

Plant’s infectious enthusiasm has led him to myriad other creative projects over the years, including a recurring stint as Santa Claus at Macy’s in San Bruno (“the best job I ever had,’’ he said). Currently, he’s illustrating a children’s book, and works two days a week for Little Red Hen’s Tools & Trade Program, making goods that are sold in the organization’s stores.

With a long history of artistic endeavors behind him, Plant continues to expand his list of creative goals. “I want to exhibit my art at MONCA, that place is cool. After I die, I want my stuff donated to a museum. And I’d like to teach kids with learning disabilities about printmaking. I want to share my talents with other people; I don’t want to keep it to myself.”