Meteorology & Visual Arts

Meteorology & Visual Arts         

Prerequisites:  None. Credits:  3       
Course Attributes:  General Education, Interdomain (N)       


Kimberly Flick, School of Visual Arts, 103 Arts Cottage, E-mail:  Office hours: Wednesdays 1:00 – 2:00 via Zoom, or by appointment.

Professor David Stensrud, Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, 504 Walker Building, E-mail:  Office hours:  Wednesdays 11:00 am -12:00 noon via Zoom, or by appointment.  

Course Description:  This course examines the inter-relationship between what we know and what we see, through an introductory exploration of art and science.  Engaging students in the study of weather formation, mainly clouds, artistic depictions within the genre of landscape, and the expressed practice of painting; fosters the development of observational skills necessary for reading the landscape and interpreting collected data.  Students will explore the processes leading to cloud formation and artistic depiction, cloud types and layering, cloud interactions with light, signs of severe weather in clouds, and repeatable cloud structures seen at all scales and how these can be represented in a two-dimensional form.  Rainbows, halos, and other optical effects in the sky will be surveyed and painted.  Data from weather instruments and the individual artist will be collected, shared, and analyzed.  We will discuss inductive and deductive reasoning, fast and slow thinking, and different ways to think about the world.  Climate change will be explored as will the effects of the studio environment on art.  Communication using numbers, visual depictions, and artistic works will be discussed and recommendations on ways to better integrate art into science, and science into art, will be sought.  

General Education Learning Objectives:

  • Key Literacies
  • Critical and Analytical Thinking
  • Integrative Thinking
  • Creative Thinking 

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the methods of inquiry in the natural science fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
  • Construct evidence-based explanations of natural phenomena
  • Demonstrate informed understandings of scientific claims and their applications
  • Evaluate the quality of the data, methods, and inferences used to generate scientific knowledge
  • Explain the methods of inquiry in arts fields and describe how the contributions of these fields complement inquiry in other areas
  • Demonstrate an expanded knowledge and comprehension of the role that the arts play in various aspects of human endeavor
  • Demonstrate competence in the creation of works of art and design
  • Demonstrate competence in analysis, critical thinking and interpretive reasoning through the exploration of creative works

Weekly assignments:  Each week you are required to upload one painting and one cloud photo (with description of the clouds captured in the photo) to Canvas by Sunday evening just prior to the start of the following week.  You also are expected to provide helpful and constructive comments on the paintings and photos of at least one other student each week by the following Wednesday evening.  The weekly assignments (shown below and on Canvas) assign the type of painting you are asked to create.  Studio Homework for this course will be keeping a personal sketchbook; as practice with painting is imperative to performance. 


L/S / Day / Weekly Topic / Homework and Painting Assignments

  1. 8/25 Seeking Connections  Weekly painting (Land and Sky) and photo
  2. 8/27                
  3. 9/1  Cloud Types Weekly painting (Sky & Silhouette) and photo
  4. 9/3                                                                                          
  5. 9/8  Quiz 1. What Causes Clouds to  Weekly painting (Cloud Identification) and photo
  6. 9/10 Form? (Part 1)                                         
  7. 9/15 What Causes Clouds to Form? (Part 2) Weekly painting (Clouds in Atmospheric Perspective)
  8. 9/17                                                 Perspective) and photo
  9. 9/22 Quiz 2. Light and Darkness Weekly painting (Sfumato and Spherical Shapes) 
  10. 9/24                                                                                         and photo
  11. 9/29 Interesting Atmospheric Effects Weekly painting (Nocturnal Landscape) and
  12. 10/1                                                                                         photo
  13. 10/6 Reasoning in Art and Meteorology Weekly painting (Experimentation) and photo
  14. 10/8 Mid-Term Exam
  15. 10/13 Layering                                       Weekly painting (Layered Landscape) and
  16. 10/15                                                                                       photo
  17. 10/20 Collecting Data!                           Weekly painting (Project Postcard) and photo
  18. 10/22                                                 
  19. 10/27 Quiz 3.  Data Analysis and          Weekly painting (Precipitation) and photo
  20. 10/29 Quality
  21. 11/3  Severe Weather                            Weekly painting (Severe storm) and photo
  22. 11/5                                                   
  23. 11/10 Climate and Climate Change       Weekly painting (Climate-scape) and photo
  24. 11/12                                                                                       Watch William Kentridge Video
  25. 11/17 Quiz 4. Repeatable Structures           Weekly painting (Your Choice) and photo
  26. 11/29 Turn in topic proposal for final project 
  27. 11/24              THANKSGIVING BREAK
  28. 11/26              THANKSGIVING DAY  All lectures and studio times via Zoom for the remainder of the semester as you attend class from home. 
  29. 12/1 Communication in Weather and Art          Work on final project
  30. 12/3                           
  31. 12/8 Putting Your Knowledge to Work              Work on final project
  32. 12/10 Share favorite paintings of semester
  33. 12/11 Must turn in final project by midnight Friday 12/11, the last day of class for the fall semester    

*additional homework can be assigned during class.  The list of homework shown on this syllabus is intended as a guide, but you are expected to keep up-to-date on assignments and to practice painting regularly during the semester to develop your skills.  

Internet Materials: 

Assessment Policy:

The grades for this course will be determined as follows.  Total possible points that can be earned by the students is 100.  Points 90 > A.  80 - 90 B.  70 - 80 C.  60 - 70 D. < 60 F.  Pluses and minuses given as appropriate.  The grading is based upon 

  • Four quizzes, each worth 5 points 20 points
  • Mid-term Exam 20 points
  • Painting and Photo Assignments (13) 26 points
  • (Paintings worth 1 point each, photo and description worth 1 point each)
  • Sketchbook (practice paintings) 10 points
  • Final Project 15 points
  • Class participation 9 points 

TOTAL  100 points