The Art of Clouds

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Information about The Art of Clouds

Published on September 30, 2013

Author: LisaGardiner2



Grad your cloud identification guide and figure out which types of clouds are found in about two dozen landscape paintings through this educational activity.

The Art of Clouds Can you guess which clouds the artist painted?

Can you identify cloud types in landscape paintings? Directions: Take a look at each piece of art and try to identify the clouds. The following slide has the answer. Good luck!

Title: Route de Louveciennes Artist: Camille Pissarro, a nineteenth century French Impressionist painter

There are cumulus clouds. The clouds have distinct edges and puffy shapes. Photo: Carlye Calvin/UCAR

Title: The Beach at Sainte-Adresse Artist: Claude Monet, a nineteenth century French Impressionist painter

Altocumulus clouds that look like little puffs are painted with large brushstrokes of soft white and blue. Photo: Carlye Calvin/UCAR

Title: Field of Poppies Artist: Claude Monet, a nineteenth century French Impressionist painter

Low cumulus clouds with distinct edges and puffy shapes Photo: Olga and Sergei Kuznetsov

Title: The Tower of London Artist: Robert Havell, an early nineteenth century British artist

These are mostly long mid-level clouds called altostratus. Photo: Peggy LeMone

Title: Seascape Study with Rain Cloud Artist: John Constable, a ninteenth century British artist

Cumulonimbus clouds can turn dark and cause rain. The rain is usually not widespread. Instead it is in one spot. Photo: Wikipedia

Title: Weymouth Bay Artist: John Constable, a ninteenth century British artist

These cumulus clouds are beginning to grow vertically. They might have turned into a thunderstorm later in the day. Photo: Olga and Sergei Kuznetsov

Title: Cloud Study Artist: John Constable (1776-1837) British painter

The clouds in front are cumulus. There are wispy cirrus clouds behind. Photos: Lisa Gardiner (top) Olga and Sergei Kuznetsov (bottom)

Title: Place Saint-Marc a Venise, Vue du Grand Canal Artist: Eugene Bourdin, a nineteenth century French painter

The clouds that are higher in the atmosphere might be altocumulus or stratocumulus. The low clouds look like cumulus. Photo: Carlye Calvin

Title: The Grand Canal, Venice Artist: Joseph Mallord William Turner, a ninteenth century British artist

This type of altocumulus cloud is sometimes called a mackerel sky because the cloud looks like the markings on a mackerel fish. Photo: Peggy LeMone

Title : View of Delft Artist: Jan Vermeer, a seventeenth century Dutch painter

The clouds in this painting look like stratocumulus. Photo: Olga and Sergei Kuznetsov

Title: Storm in the Rocky Mountains Artist : Albert Bierstadt, nineteenth century American landscape painter

The clouds have the rounded crisp edges and vertical development of cumulonimbus clouds. Photo: Wikipedia

Title: The Lackawanna Valley Artist: George Inness, a nineteenth century American painter

There is a low and uniform layer of stratus clouds. Note that the smoke from the chimney is going straight up so there must not be much wind. Photo: Sara Martin

Title: Saint-Mammes Artist: Alfred Sisley, nineteenth century English Impressionist painter

There are just a few small cumulus clouds in the upper left. Photo: Carlye Calvin

Title: Seacoast Artist: Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828) English landscape painter

This sky has a uniform cover of stratus or altostratus clouds. Photo: Sara Martin

Title: Le Pont des Arts Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) French painter

There appears to be two cloud types in the sky: mid-level altocumulus clouds and lower stratocumulus clouds. Photos: UCAR (top) Olga and Sergei Kuznetsov (bottom)

Title: View of Toledo (Spain) Artist: El Greco, a 17th Century artist from Greece who lived in Spain

The towering dark clouds in the sky look like thunderstorm clouds called cumulonimbus. Photo: Wikipedia

Title: Evening on the Volga Artist: Issac Levitan, a ninteenth century Russian landscape painter

These are large stratocumulus clouds. Photo: Peggy LeMone

Title: After the Rain The Lake of Terni Artist: Issac Levitan, a ninteenth century Russian landscape painter

After rain has ended, broken pieces of low clouds called scud are left in the sky. Behind the scud are altocumulus clouds. Photo: Peggy LeMone

, Title: Cloud Shadows Artist: Winslow Homer, a ninteenth century American painter and illustrator

These are stratocumulus clouds. Photo: Wikipedia

, Title: Flower Beds in Holland Artist: Vincent van Gogh, nineteenth century Dutch painter

Stratocumulus clouds look long like stratus, but are puffy like cumulus. Photo: Peggy LeMone

, Title: Wheat Field with Cypress Trees Artist: Vincent van Gogh, a nineteenth century Dutch painter

? What types of clouds did van Gogh see in the sky when he captured this scene? It is difficult to tell!

Title: Altocumulus Artist: Graeme Stephens, contemporary artist and atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University

He painted altocumulus clouds! Photo: UCAR

• • • A teacher’s guide for using The Art of Clouds with students is available at This educational resource was developed by Lisa Gardiner with art review help from Becca Hatheway, Peggy LeMone, and Julia Genyuk, and cloud type identification by Peggy LeMone. The Art of Clouds is made possible with funding from the Center for Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to the Windows to the Universe project at UCAR. © 2011 NESTA with modifications by UCAR

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