It’s windy out there. I can hear it howling around the street and rattling the windows. But how does an artist depict something that’s essentially invisible?
You can’t paint (or photograph) wind itself. But you can show the objects touched by the wind being blown and bent into different shapes.
Waves in a seascape often suggest wind, especially if there’s a dramatic sky to support it. The Ninth Wave by Ivan Aivazovsky is a great example.
Possibly the most famous wave picture of all is The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. The wave dominates the scene – so much so that it’s easy to forget that there are three little boats struggling through this huge sea and a picture of Mount Fuji in the background.
Here we have Camille Corot going all out to show a howling gale. Clouds bowling across the sky, trees almost bent double, and a hint of rain overhead. The small figure of a lone man on his horse in this dramatic landscape gives a sense of scale and vulnerability: two small beings against the fearsome elements. It looks like the horse could be a bit spooked by the wind and the rider is having to take a firm hand to get them home safe. In case we didn’t get the idea, the picture is even called Windswept Landscape.
One of the best windy pictures ever is Miranda The Tempest by John William Waterhouse. It’s got everything: a stormy sea, a dramatic shipwreck, and a lovely lady on the shore, holding back her long hair so that she can look out to sea. This picture, painted in 1916, is inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Have a look at our ever-growing Weather > Wind category for more howling gales and stormy seas!