The Thunderstorm poignantly illustrates how Grandma Moses managed to combine intensely evocative renditions of natural phenomena with dramatic anecdotal detail.
There are several levels of action in The Thunderstorm. Fierce storm clouds arc rapidly approaching over the mountains, and in the distance the trees have already begun to whip wildly in the wind. The artist's deployment of color to represent these events is extraordinarily acute: The parched yellows of a late summer meadow, the varied greens of the trees, and the shifting colors of the sky before the advancing torrent are all keenly observed.
In the foreground, Moses presents the human reaction to the oncoming threat. There is a mad rush to get the hay into the barn and, at middle distance, a black horse bolts in terror.
The girl in the yellow dress is frozen in mid-run, while strangely, behind her to the left, two other children seem oblivious to the commotion. The abstract forms used to render all the human and animal activity stand in sharp contrast to the impressionistic interplay of colors in the landscape elements of the composition. This juxtaposition of abstraction and realism was one of the principal cornerstones of the "Grandma Moses style."