Unlike the expansive vistas often seen in landscape paintings, Cézanne's Pines and Rocks is a tightly framed, compressed view of nature. Low bushes and massive boulders form a bulwark against the forest, and a vertical line of pine trees extends upward, obscuring the sky beyond. Though the trees and rocks firmly structure the scene, Cézanne also infused Pines and Rocks with a sense of airiness and movement. Glimpses of bare, unfinished canvas peek through the dense weave of brushstrokes.
At first glance, Cézanne's palette seems limited to blues, greens, and browns, but a closer look reveals endless variations of colors, including shades of yellows, violets, and reds. At close range the painting appears nearly abstract—a dancing network of innumerable brushstrokes, some parallel, others looser and more rapidly applied. Stepping back, these varied marks coalesce into a shimmering effect that Cézanne called "vibrations of light."