Some artists adopt a similar approach to drawing other natural elements, for example the sea or the night sky. Look at some images by Vija Celmins and consider how her approach can help you with your cloud drawings.
After watching the video www. vimeo.com/22299024 I was struck by Vija Celmins fairly practical and simplistic approach to the representation of the constantly changing sky. Her aim is to represent the subject in a moment in time- picking up the details that make it what it is then. She describes herself as not being an ideas artist, but an artist showing an object as it is at that time for the viewer to think about later. There are more images of her work here: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/celmins-galaxy-p78335.
I was very interested to find this video, featuring Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the author of the Cloud Spotters Guide, and founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/tateshots-clouds, looking at various cloud pictures by Turner and Constable, (and other artists) discussing his appreciation of their ability to observe and depict clouds accurately.
JMW Turner did multiple sketches of clouds to experiment with capturing atmospheric conditions. This colour study is typical of the hundreds of experimental sketches that Turner habitually made.
Turner’s sketches were frequently not detailed or coloured
The simplicity of this sketch made me feel better, having struggled with the cloud drawing exercise, because I was trying to capture “detail” and contrast.
I enjoyed looking at this contemporary drawing of a cloud byRoman Savchenko (2010) Paper, ballpoint pen, acrylic 130 x 250 cm
It consists of the laborious build up of intense ballpoint pen swirls. It is a very physical drawing in which the paper becomes part of the effect- the intensity of the pen’s pressure has caused the paper to wrinkle and buckle. It is dar, textured and foreboding- a storm cloud threatening rain!
In contrast, in spite of the much more traditional approach, looking at John Constable’s The Chain pier (1827) evokes the sense that I could almost taste the rain and sea salt on the wind as the storm blows in. The sky is dark and atmospheric, full of heavy dark clouds, with gusting wind evidenced by the boats and spray blowing off the tops of the waves in the foreground. There is an impression of stumbling light falling between the clouds on the tips of the waves and light falling on the sea wall in the background..