During his 16 years of formal art training, Valeriy Kagounkin has studied everything from painting and sculpture to Italian fresco, mosaic, and stained glass. While he now focuses on capturing the American West on canvas, he also feels a duty to serve the community with his other skills. One of Kagounkin’s most recent projects—painting a mural on an eight-story building—has seen him perched atop a lift in 90-degree temperatures, breathing in smoke-filled air from the wildfires raging near his home in Sacramento, California. “It is what it is,” he says. “This is real artwork.”
Except for a few difficult times, Kagounkin considers his life to be marked by good fortune. He was born in Russia in 1959 to Chuvash parents, members of a migratory ethnic group. When he was one year old, the family moved to a rural village in Siberia, where his father found a job working in an aluminum factory. There, during visits to his uncle’s farm, Kagounkin fell in love with the land.
Supply Trip To Town
20” by 30”
“Fall colors are beautiful, and they make for a vibrant painting. But there is a delicate balance when working with bright hues of red, yellow, and orange. The artist must balance these out with bold strokes of blue. Orange and blue are on the opposite ends of the color wheel. The trick to creating real fall colors is getting enough blue into the sky to balance it all out.”
He’s Gonna Be OK
20” by 36”
“There is a special bond between man and dog that goes back thousands of years. On the ranch, dogs are used for protection, herding, and companionship. Here, you can see the concern on the cowboys’ faces when their little friend is injured.”