Lesson Plans MMoCA Collects

Roger Brown: Geometric Paintings

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Roger Brown, Mountain Sites, 1973, oil on canvas.
Sample image
Sample image
Sample image

Developed by Jeanell Dailey, Taylor Prairie Elementary School, Cottage Grove, Wisconsin

Summary of Activity

Students will find two-dimensional geometric shapes in their environment that have symmetry. Students will draw a geometric shape and divide it with a line of symmetry. Students will create a painting using geometric shapes that demonstrates symmetry.

Learning Objectives

Participate in a classroom discussion of student observations of shapes in the painting by Roger Brown and the use of symmetry in this work of art.

Find symmetry in shapes around the classroom.

Draw a geometric shape and accurately draw a line of symmetry.

Sketch the shapes.

Create a picture using geometric shapes that are symmetrical.


Present reproduction of Mountain Sites by Roger Brown to the class and provide information about the work and the artist. Facilitate a discussion about the visual elements of the work with an emphasis on how the artist used a repeating shape in this piece to create the image of a mountain range. Introduce the word symmetry and explore how the mountain range itself and the individual mountains are symmetrical. Introduce the phrase line of symmetry and demonstrate how it divides a mountain in half so that both sides are the same size and shape.


  1. After the class discussion, ask students to look around the classroom for other geometric shapes. Ask them to draw an imaginary line through the center of each shape so that both halves are the same size and shape.
  2. Ask each student to then use a pencil and a pattern block template (or ruler) to duplicate the shape on paper. Then, using a ruler, ask each student to divide the shape in half using a line of symmetry.
  3. During the next class period, instruct student to use sponges that have been precut into simple geometric shapes to create a symmetrical picture. Fold a piece of paper in half to demonstrate how to create a line of symmetry for the picture. Instruct students to dip their sponges in tempera paint and then stamp both sides of the paper with the same sponge shape to create a symmetrical image.

Curriculum Connections

Art, mathmatics

Grade Level

Primary, grades 1-2


Pattern-block template or geometric-shape template (optional)
Construction paper
Tempera paint
Sponges cut into geometric shapes


two-dimensional, geometric shapes:
triangle, square, rectangle, oval, trapezoid, pentagon, hexagon, and octagon

identical or the same on both sides of a dividing line

line of symmetry:
the line that divides a symmetrical object into two equal parts


This lesson meets the following Wisconsin Model Academic Standards:

English Language Arts

C.4.1 Orally communicate information, opinions, and ideas effectively to different audiences for a variety ofpurposes

C.4.2 Listen to and comprehend oral communications

C.4.3 Participate effectively in discussion

Fine Arts

A.4.1 Develop a basic mental storehouse of images

A.4.2 Learn basic vocabulary related to their study of art

C.4.5 Look at nature and works of art as visual resources

C.4.7 Develop basic skills to produce quality art

E.4.1 Communicate basic ideas by producing studio art forms such as drawing, painting, prints, sculpture, jewelry, fiber, and ceramics

H.4.1 Study the patterns and color in nature


C.4.1 Describe two- and three-dimensional figures (e.g., circles, polygons, trapezoids, prisms, spheres) by:

  • naming them
  • comparing, sorting, and classifying them
  • drawing and constructing physical models to specifications
  • identifying their properties (e.g., number of sides or faces, two- or three-dimensionality, equal sides, number of right angles)
  • predicting the results of combining or subdividing two-dimensional figures
  • explaining how these figures are related to objects in the environment

C.4.2 Use physical materials and motion geometry (such as slides, flips, and turns) to identify properties and relationships, including but not limited to: symmetry, congruence, and similarity


Roger BrownMountain Sites, 1973, oil on canvas, 54 x 70 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Purchase, through a contribution from the Wisconsin State Journal. 73.0.26 © The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brown family

Primary, grades 1-2

Art, mathematics