Clouds In Art and Storytelling

“I like the clouds… the clouds that pass… there… there… the wonderful clouds!”

Charles Baudelaire, the stranger

“As a cloud crosses the sun, silence falls on London; and falls on the mind. Effort ceases. Time flaps on the mast. There we stop; there we stand. Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame. Where there is nothing, Peter Walsh said to himself; feeling hollowed out, utterly empty within. Clarissa refused me, he thought. He stood there thinking, Clarissa refused me.”

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

A typical European film opens with golden, sunlit clouds. Cut to even more splendid bouffant clouds. Cut again to yet more magnificent, rubescent clouds. A Hollywood film opens with golden, billowing clouds. In the second shot a 747 jumbo jet comes out of the clouds. In the third, it explodes.

favourite joke among film distributors, from Robert McKee in Story
Nicholas Roerich (1874 - 1947) La bataille des cieux, 1912 clouds
Nicholas Roerich (1874 – 1947) La bataille des cieux, 1912 clouds
The Airmail.  N. C. Wyeth. 1938
The Airmail. N. C. Wyeth. 1938
Alexander Leydenfrost (1888-1961) airship
Alexander Leydenfrost (1888-1961) (For more illustrations of airships, see here.)
Maynard Dixon (January 24, 1875 – November 11, 1946) was an American artist whose body of work focused on the American West clouds
Maynard Dixon (January 24, 1875 – November 11, 1946) was an American artist whose body of work focused on the American West clouds
Davis Meltzer (born 1930) illustration for National Geographic, Vol. 131, No. 1, January 1967
Davis Meltzer (born 1930) illustration for National Geographic, Vol. 131, No. 1, January 1967
One of Mario Logli's 'Flying Islands' 1980
One of Mario Logli’s ‘Flying Islands’ 1980

What if you could befriend a cloud?
What weather would you choose?
What if the weather matched your mood, whether you want it to or not?

Elizabeth Shippen Green Two children staring at clouds on a field
Elizabeth Shippen Green Two children staring at clouds on a field
William Timlin (1892 - 1943) 1923 illustration for his own The Ship That Sailed To Mars
William Timlin (1892 – 1943) 1923 illustration for his own The Ship That Sailed To Mars
Four Celestial Angels, 1880-95 Frederick Stuart Church; 1842-1924
Four Celestial Angels, 1880-95 Frederick Stuart Church; 1842-1924
Frank Godwin - Book illustration for Lang’s Fairy Tales 1921 clouds
Frank Godwin – Book illustration for Lang’s Fairy Tales 1921
Masury Versus Sky 1936 Arnold Wiltz
Masury Versus Sky 1936 Arnold Wiltz

NOTABLE PICTURE BOOK CLOUDS

Janusz Stanny - The Snow Queen
Janusz Stanny – The Snow Queen
Anton Lomaev - Puss in Boots
Anton Lomaev – Puss in Boots
Eloise Wilkin clouds
Eloise Wilkin clouds
Arthur Hughes - A Passing Cloud
Arthur Hughes – A Passing Cloud

Header painting: René Magritte (Belgian, 1898-1967), daily bread, oil on canvas, 91.6 x 69.8 cm

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