As a graphic designer myself, I’m always looking for ways to translate the work of some of my favorites into art projects that will work well for kids. There are a few designers I’ve run across who’s work has instantly caught my eye, and Celestino Piatti’s seemed perfectly suited for translation by artistic littles!
Using inspiration from his work and children’s book illustrations (you might recognize him from his ABC animal book) we made our own Celestino Piatti-inspired garden art peacocks and suns! Their bright colors, along with the bold mosaic/stain glass style scream summer (they even twirl in the breeze!). A perfect way to decorate a children’s garden, use to spruce up school landscaping for a special event or give to a teacher as a back-to-school gift!
I love Piatti’s ability to break animals’ complex bodies into groups of stylized shapes, and the bold style of his line work. It’s an aesthetic and process kids are instantly drawn to – the illustrations certainly stuck with me as a little one, and have influenced my own work.
This is a project that utilizes simple shapes (circles and triangles create every feature),
To make your own kinetic garden art you’ll need:
- Watercolor paper, heavy card stock or similar (we used 2 sheets of 11″x 17″ watercolor paper)
- Plates or bowls to trace around
- A black oil pastel or crayon, black chalk or black paint
- Watercolors, acrylic or tempera paints
- Small metal brad
- (4) 2″ x 2″ squares of scrap cardboard
- Glue stick or craft glue
- A stick, small round dowel or similar
- A piece of masking tape or hot glue gun
- A potted plant (this makes a wonderful teacher’s gift!)
Celestino Piatti-Inspired Garden Art Instructions:
- Trace a small, large and medium circle on to watercolor paper
Use bowls or plates to trace a small, medium and large circle onto your watercolor paper with a pencil or pen. This is a great opportunity for kids to recognize the shapes that are present in their everyday life.
- Cut out circles
Cut out your three circles with scissors.
- Stack circles and trace
Stack your circles on top of each other smallest to largest. With your circles stacked and centered, trace around your smallest and medium-sized circle.
- Add a face and simple line patterns
On your smallest circle, sketch a simple face in pencil. On
youmedium-sized circle, sketch a loose shape pattern in the outside border (leaving the inner circle blank). On the large circle, create the “rays” of your sun using triangles (or whatever shape you prefer! Half circles, for instance, would look great too!) There are absolutely no rules for this – you can create patterns by tracing shapes or quickly freehand draw sketchy lines!
- Draw over lines with an oil pastel or crayon
Use a black oil pastel or crayon to go over all of your pencil lines with big, bold strokes. Tip: outlining the edges of your small/medium-sized circle will help to create a distinct border between each
circles. Rough, textured lines are the style, so there’s no need to be perfect about it!
- Add color with watercolors
Now it’s time to start adding color to your circles (this is the magic step that will create that lovely stained-glass style!). Grab your watercolors and decide which colors you’d like to use. Do you want to use a warm palette, cool colors, a mixture? Ocean colors? Desert colors? Summer colors or winter colors? It’s all up to you! Fill in the outlined shapes on each circle with your watercolors.
- Cut around the lines of your large background circle
Once all your layers have dried, cut around the rays of your large circles.
- Stack bottom circles and thread with metal brad
Stacking your medium and large circles on top of each other, make a small hole in in
the center. Cut (2) small squares out of a piece of scrap cardboard and make a small hole in the center of those as well (we’ll use these between the circles to add dimension to our sun). Thread your metal brad through the medium circle, 2 small cardboard squares, then your large square to create the first piece of your stacked sun.
- Affix face to top
Using craft glue or a good glue stick, stack (2) glue 2 small cardboard squares together, glue the stack to the center of your medium circle, then glue your face on top.
- Add a dowel rod to back
Use a piece of tape or hot glue gun to affix a stick (like we did) or dowel rod to the back of your sun stack.
- Add to a garden or flower pot!
Pop into a flower bed or potted plant for an instant touch of handmade summer garden art!
I thought it would be fun to make these 3 different pieces that would add dimension and move independently, but you can easily simplify this project by gluing all the pieces together or just drawing your 3 circles within the same large circle on one piece of paper.
For the peacock, you’ll use the same process – just a different combination of shapes!
You can use ours as a visual template, or experiment with creating your own designs from simple shapes.
We used a warmer palette for our sun, so decided to go with a cool palette (a more literal representation of Piatti’s own work) for our peacock.
Instead of putting these on a garden stake or branch you could hang them from a ribbon, or make a full set to string into a garland.
For younger kids, you can simplify this graphic garden art project by creating the oil pastel outlines first, then letting them color and add details with watercolor and additional colors of oil pastel.