Valdimir Chapko was born in a small mining town in Belgium in 1948. His parents were Ukrainian expatriates separated from their homeland by invading Nazi forces during the Second World War. In 1956 the Chapko family emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At the age of nine Val was enrolled in a local art school run by a society of Ukrainian artists. These men had been Art professionals in their native land and under their tutelage Val spent his formative years drawing in charcoal and painting in watercolor. Eventually he progressed to rendering in egg tempera and finally painting in oils. After graduating from High School in 1966 Val was enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Art. However, after three disappointing years at the predominantly industrial arts college the frustrated young artist joined the Marine Corps. While in the Marines Val eventually made “Illustrator” his military occupational specialty and served out his tour of duty working for the Public Affairs Department of the 4th Marine Corps Reserve and Recruiting District in Philadelphia.
After his discharge from the Marines Val decided to pursue his love of painting by enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. While at the Academy he came under the influence of Arthur De Costa, a teacher known for his “academic” style of painting. De Costa was a master still-life painter who created small gems and he became Val’s mentor.
After his graduation from the Academy in 1977 Val stumbled onto a job with an outdoor advertising company. Fascinated by the challenge of painting fifty-foot long canvases he decided to pursue a career painting billboards. “ We spent most of our time thirty or more feet in the air suspended by block and tackle, hanging off the side of some building or structure. We painted monumental pictures using three and four inch brushes that we called ‘mops’, and we called ourselves ‘wall-dogs’. Many of the painters in the industry were fine artists in their own right, and some were professional mural painters recruited from Europe”.
In 1979 Val moved to the San Francisco Bay area. He quit painting billboards in 1995 and now spends all his spare time in front of an easel. Chapko captures every detail in his oil paintings of the Napa Valley, every blade of grass, every leaf on the vine, and every shadow cascading on the ground from beneath the California Oak trees. No detail escapes Chapko's discerning eye. Chapko's work is reminiscent of the old master style.
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