Make: Celestino Piatti-Inspired Garden Art for Kids

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 whose work has instantly caught my eye, and Celestino Piatti is at the top of my list. Having fallen in love with his books as a child, I grew to appreciate his vast body of work and unique style even more as an adult.

Using inspiration from his work and children’s book illustrations (you might recognize him from his books The Happy Owls or Animal ABC) 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!

A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

I love Piatti’s ability to break animals’ complex bodies into groups of stylized shapes, and the bold style of his linework. 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), encourages pattern experimentation, and is a wonderful way to add in a lesson in mark-making and mixed media exploration.

For more Celestion Piatti-inspired projects, be sure to visit our DIY puppet theater, where a cast of his animals puts on a daily show. Or experiment with Piatti-inspired mark-making processes with these spring landscapes.

To make your own Piatti-inspired garden art you’ll need:

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • 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
  • Scissors
  • Small metal brad
  • (4) 2″ x 2″ squares of scrap cardboard
  • Glue stick or craft glue
  • A stick, round dowel or similar
  • A piece of masking tape or hot glue gun

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • A potted plant (this makes a wonderful teacher’s gift!)

Celestino Piatti-Inspired Garden Art Instructions:

  1. Trace a small, large, and medium circle onto 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.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  2. Cut out circles

    Cut out your three circles with scissors.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  3. 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 circles.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  4. Add a face and simple line patterns

    On your smallest circle, sketch a simple face in pencil. On your medium-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!
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  5. Draw over lines with 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 circle. Rough, textured lines are the style, so there’s no need to be perfect about it!
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  6. 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.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  7. Cut around the lines of your large background circle

    Once all your layers have dried, cut around the rays of your large circles.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  8. Stack bottom circles and thread with a metal brad

    Stacking your medium and large circles on top of each other, make a small hole 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.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  9. Affix face to the 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.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  10. Add a dowel rod to the 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.
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

  11. Add to a garden or flower pot!

    Pop into a flower bed or potted plant for an instant touch of handmade summer garden art!
    A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into 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.

A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

For the peacock, you’ll use the same process – just a different combination of shapes!

A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

You can use the shapes above as a guide or experiment with creating your own designs from simple shapes.

A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

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.

A kids art project inspired by graphic designer Celestino Piatti. A great lesson in mark-making and mixed media that you can turn into garden art!

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.

For more summer art ideas, try making a set of melted crayon butterflies, a colorful upcycled camp lantern, create cool scrap supply pool art, or some modern mini flower collages!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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