Spotlight on an Artist- Sergei Temerev


After my post on Konstantin Sterkhov's watercolor blog, I've decided to move forward with a long standing idea of mine- I'm going to be doing an occasional series on artists I particularly admire.  I get a lot of joy exploring and mining the work of other artists, as I channel different approaches and see how they apply to my own vision.  Does that ever go away?  I don't know... Perhaps?  But for now, it's been very helpful.  I rarely make particularly successful paintings when I do this, but it loosens me up and keeps me well acquainted with failure.  Later, I've found that these explorations come back around and prove themselves useful in unexpected ways.  So I continue to push myself, and not only aim for "successful" paintings, where I do things I already know I can do well.  Having said all that, this post is about Sergey Temerev.

Sergey Temerev (or Sergei- its all a romanization anyways) is a Russian watercolor artist that makes ludicrously beautiful cloud and sea scapes.  Sometimes, I look at his stuff on Facebook (here's a link to his Facebook page) and just shake my head and think "That son of a bitch, he did it again!  I want to have painted that.  Damn he's fantastic." 

I have a deep love of clouds- their luminosity, how they are a free form, how they have lost and found edges.  Much like arranging boulders (part of what I do in my other life as a landscape designer), painting interesting clouds comes down to pure composition.  There's not much there beyond the object itself.  All you've got is small versus big, hard versus soft, cool versus warm, dark versus light, etc.  That's very compelling to me.   Sergey has a powerful command of all of that. 

What's also amazing is his control of water- the crashing of waves, the knife-like reflections, and the calm, pristine depths as well.  Check these out.  Good grief!

Then, just to kick it all into overdrive, he has these quirky, interesting, wet into wet, cityscapes that he does now and then. I love some of these-


All of this would be well and fine for a quick, eye-searingly good perusal now and then, but Sergey also happens to have many videos on his YouTube page.  Yay!  What an amazing world we live in at times.  :)  Sergey doesn't seem to get out west very much (if at all?), but this atleastallows us to see how he paints, in process.  A very critical thing for learning. 

Sergey uses a variety of interesting techniques that are worth seeing done, even if you don't speak Russian.  For example, he wets both sides of the paper and then applies it to plexiglass (?) to hold it in place.  I presume this also helps keep things moist for longer, as he paints the clouds and gets those beautiful soft edges.  You can watch him mix his paints and see how wet (or dry) he keeps his palette.  He paints relatively dry, considering how wet and soft his edges are- you can actually see how he's always dabbing his brush off on his cloth, or how the bristles are often rather dry and at an angle, instead of thick and pointing downwards.  He "feathers" his edges sometimes too, which seems to be done with a dry/close to dry brush.  He lays down his first wash in almost neutral tones, modeling forms, and then glazes over things for color.  He has a special tool he uses for super straight lines.  He often uses flats, and saves his quills for specific applications.  Etc, etcLots of really interesting approaches going on here.

There are more out there than what I'm sharing, but these seemed the best of the bunch to me.  Here's a 40 minute video of one of his clouds and seascape demos-


If you have the patience to watch someone paint for 2 hours while they speak Russian, you should check out the videos below.  I've watched the whole thing.  Why?  Because, in my mind, I think it's important to watch the whole painstaking process.  It lets you see how they approach it, the detail (or looseness) they apply, the delicacy of the brushwork, how wet or dry the brush is, how long they wait for it to dry at different stages, etc. 

Here's the 3-parter I found-

I wish he had demos out there that featured some of his other subjects- rivers and ponds, or cityscapes, but I've only been able to find these seascape demos.  Regardless, it's a pleasure to have these available and to be able to watch him paint.  Quite a master at what he does!