BASIC CELTIC KNOT – Measurement, Parallel Lines, Colour

Students create a basic Celtic knot and paint it with watercolours.

Required Time

120 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 4 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts



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BASIC CELTIC KNOT – Measurement, Parallel Lines, Colour - Step One

Step One

  1. Follow the instructions on the worksheet to practice drawing the Celtic knot on regular drawing paper.
BASIC CELTIC KNOT – Measurement, Parallel Lines, Colour - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Lightly draw a good copy on a piece of watercolour paper.
  2. Erase all the guide lines.
  3. Wet a section of the design with a small amount of water and then paint watercolour into the dampened paper.
  4. Continue in this way until the whole design is painted. 
  5. Once the paper is dry outline the design with a black fine line marker.
BASIC CELTIC KNOT – Measurement, Parallel Lines, Colour - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place the finished painting under some heavy books for about an hour to flatten it if the paper is not smooth.
  2. View the painting with fresh eyes.
    - What do you like best about it? Why?
    - How could you use this idea in another artwork?
    - Why did you choose the colours you used?
    - How does the colour affect the overall feeling of the design?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a basic Celtic knot;
  • use transparent colour to create the sense of space;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • investigate Celtic designs used in popular culture, for example, tattoos and jewellery; 
  • design a product that is based on Celtic art;
  • create a media text that shows the historical Celtic artifacts that have influenced their own design;
  • share their work with the class.


  1. Prior to this lesson you may want to have your students explore Watercolour Techniques using the lesson available on this website.
  2. Introduce Celtic culture and some history related to ancient and medieval Europe.
  3. Download Celtic design images from the Internet, for example,
    Book of Kells
    Decorated Letter
    Runic Cross
    Celtic Cross
  4. Print the basic Celtic Knot worksheets, enough for each student. (Downloads – BasicCelticKnot.pdf)
  5. Gather and make available books about the Celts and their art, for example, Hands-On History! The Celts: Step into the world of the Celtic peoples, with 15 step-by-step projects and over 400 exciting pictures, by Fiona Macdonald; Celtic Memories: Stories and Blessing from the Celtic Tradition, by Caitlin Matthews; Sacred Symbols Series Celts, by Robert Adkinson; Jaw-Dropping Geography: Fun Learning Facts About British History Celts: Illustrated Fun Learning For Kids, by Jess Roche; The Celts: Blood, Iron and the Forgotten History of the Celts, by Patrick Auerbach; Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction (Dover Art Instruction), by George Bain; Celtic and Old Norse Designs, by Courtney Davis; and Treasury of Celtic Knots, by Aidan Meehan.


  1. View images of decorated letters from the Book of Kells.
  2. Discuss the Book of Kells, how it was made, and its use of symbolic imagery.
    - an Irish book begun around 800 CE in Scotland, and moved to Ireland around 806 CE after Viking raids
    - made by Monks to teach people about Christianity
    - most famous European medieval manuscript still in existence
    - admired because of its beautiful art, attention to detail and craftsmanship
    - made on vellum (calfskin)
    - used 10 different colours, many of which were rare and expensive because they were so hard to get
    - contains the Four Gospels, stories about Jesus as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
    - uses symbolism to represent different parts of the story, for example, Matthew – man/angel; Mark – lion; Luke – calf; John – eagle
  3. Point out the overlapping pattern of the Celtic knot in some of the letters. Ask if and where they have seen this design before.
  4. Introduce the challenge


The Challenge

  1. Create a basic Celtic knot.
  2. Use transparent colour to create the sense of space.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  4. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - accurately designed a basic Celtic knot 
    - erased the guide lines 
    - used transparent colour to create a sense of space
    - outlined the shape carefully to add to the sense of space
    - kept the paper in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Place students into small groups. 
  2. Ask them to: 
    - Compare their work and describe to each other how they chose their colours and why.
    - Discuss the things that are especially effective and why.

    - Talk about what they found difficult and what they found easy to do.
  3. Share ideas with the whole class. 
  4. Ask students to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - CelticKnot_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - CelticKnot_self-assessment.pdf)