Step One (Introduction): Introduce students to the landscape works of the Impressionists, such as Pissarro, Monet, Sisley and Cezanne. Give students the opportunity to observe about how Cezanne’s work differs from that of the other artists. Guide the students in understanding that while Cezanne worked at the same time as the impressionists (and often painted with Pissarro), his work went in a different direction. Rather than merely painting what he saw in front of him, he sought to paint the arrangement of shapes he saw in nature, with the goal of bringing those shapes into a harmonious arrangement.
Step Two (Presentation of painting method): At this point, you may choose to bring students outdoors with their sketching materials to observe directly from nature (if applicable) or to use reference photos of landscapes that include trees, mountains, lakes, etc. (the occasional man-made object can be included as well, so long as it is not the focus of the picture).
Working either from direct observation or reference photos, guide students in reducing the scenes they are looking at to basic shapes, such as cylinders (trees), cones (mountains), spheres (rounded bushes, rocks), or prisms and cubes (buildings). Once you guide students in sketching the basic shapes, students should create sketches in which the shapes are arranged into strong compositions. Sketches should resemble the surroundings, but students do not have to be “slaves" to the details of the landscapes they are using as references.
Composition tip: Students should be encouraged to use overlapping shapes to create depth in their pieces.