Collage Anatomy: The Making of “Hot Air Balloon Ride”

Here at the rebranded CateFNStudios Blog, you’ll find Crafting the Voice (Articles from work in Vocal PedagogyFunctional Voice Training and Somatic Education) and Voicing the Craft (Photoblog of steps taken for play in collage, abstract art and design.) 

Here’s the process for my most recent collage, “Hot Air Balloon Ride.” Enjoy!

It started with doodling and coloring on a recent US cross-country flight:FullSizeRender (61)

On the return flight I decided to turn the doodle into a larger work when I got home, which eventually became the 18″ x 24″ paint and collage on canvas, “Hot Air Balloon Ride.” First, I just expanded the doodle onto larger pieces of paper.


Then I drew several prototypes on sheets of cardboard because I wanted to use a medium-sized canvas. Here I am using plates and wine glasses to create geometric circles as opposed to organic, hand-drawn circles.


Egg shapes were drawn free hand until they seemed symmetrical. The use of tracing paper for patterns to cut out collaged papers reminded me of my sewing days.

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Then I began making gelli prints for collage papers to fit the design. Gelli prints are made by putting paint on a flexible gelatin slab, rolling the paint out on the slab with a brayer, adding marks, and then pressing paper over top. The paper is then pulled off the slab. This has been all the rage in crafting and collage circles for awhile now, with limitless possibilities for design, color and use. You can find tons of “how to’s” online.

I chose to make simple marks with the gelli print designs. Here are some of the tissue paper shapes, lined up with the gelli prints they’ll be cut out of.

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And part of the fun was rooting through my collage paper stash to find what might work:

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I absolutely ADORE combining handmade collage papers, speciality papers and acrylic paint. Here are some of the specialty papers in my stash. They are handmade out of various kinds of tree bark and reeds in an array of colors and textures.  I get them from Mulberry Paper. And let me tell you, every time I look at their site or feel these sheets, I have a visceral experience….I wish I could roll around on them!!

FullSizeRender (62)Then I start putting things together like a puzzle, referring to the original in-flight doodle to retain the initial inspiration.


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I stop along the way to make more subtle gelli prints when my collage paper stash doesn’t have the “right” color.

FullSizeRender (63)The white paper on the right of this next photo is actually a painter’s palate. It is coated with a substance that makes it possible to mix colors and various mediums before applying paint to your substrate. (substrate is the paper, canvas or whatever on which you are painting.)


When the work seemed finished, I turned it over and placed it on a self-healing cutting mat. This is an ingenious quilter’s tool which lets you to cut into it with a rotary cutter or Exacto knife and it magically ‘self-heals.’  Here, I am using an Exacto knife to cut the excess paper off the four sides. Then I painted the four blank sides of the canvas sky blue.

After the sides dried, I turned the canvas over and danced to “Up Up and Away” by the Fifth Dimension to get out of “drafting” mode. (Note: no photos of this step…) This was to get out of drafting mode and move into spontaneously adding some unexpected elements. I used a thingie in my ‘thingie box,’ and mixed sky blue with ecru, then stamped circles on the canvas. I added some blotches here and there. Then, the whole thing got a covering of clear acrylic medium to protect the papers and give a final glue-down.

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By the way, three of my vocal pedagogy colleagues told me they saw a larynx, the anatomical structure in our throats that houses the vocal folds. That’s the nature of contemporary art. The viewer sees what they see!

If you liked this post, please comment, like or share. This helps me know that others found it useful or fun, and encourages me to post more like it! Thanks for being here!





  1. fascinating details! very clear instructions with a light touch.end result is airy and floaty, just as the title implies. thanks for this…much appreciated.


  2. I loved to see and read how you made this wonderful collage. And you perfectly show it’s hard work to get such great results.
    Congratulation to this beautiful artwork!


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