OK, OK, "nuages" is the fancy-sounding French word for "clouds."
I almost always put clouds in my landscape paintings, even though clouds aren't necessarily common in the Southwest desert skies. But they do add interest, and sometimes clouds can be the best pictorial element in a painting.
I rarely attempt to paint clouds entirely out of my head -- it's harder to do than one might expect. For this reason, I have a vast library of cloud photos that I've taken over the years. I've attached a jpeg of some clouds we had around here just this morning. The top part of a Joshua tree pierces the sky in the lower lefthand corner. As you might imagine, I suspect these clouds will appear in a painting in the future.
I've also been inspired by the cloudscapes of contemporary painter Dale TerBush. He always had a way of making clouds look very soft and feathery. Over time, I've learned how to paint clouds that same way, although maybe not in as fanciful a manner as he. (Also, over the years, Dale evolved into a more dramatic and colorful look, which I haven't). Regardless, Dale's rendering of clouds has been a factor in my own development as an artist, and I would consider him to be one of my modern-day influences.