Mixed-Media Art and a Love Affair With Quotes

I think we can all agree that quotes are a limitless source of inspiration. They inspire, guide, encourage, and remind me of what’s truly important in life. My love affair with quotes has been going on since I started collecting them in my teens.

Mixed media art "Fragment" by Lesley Riley
"Just Like Me" (mixed media "Fragment") by Lesley Riley, lesleyriley.com

Fast forward a few decades to the year 2000 when I first went public with my art. I have created more than 1,000 “Fragments”—fabric and photo collages—inspired by quotes.

What I learned by making these mini works of art is how a quote can take on a whole different meaning and context, depending on the colors, textures, art elements, type style, fabric, and photo (focal point) I use.

The reverse is true, too. Your artwork can tell many different stories, depending on which quote you choose to go with it. There’s no one best or right way to illustrate a quote. It’s always as much an expression of self as it is the quote.

Mixed media art with quote by Martin Luther
"Pin" this mixed media art by Jan Avellan onto your Pinterest quote board.

With mixed-media art, you can take your inspiration from the art, the quote, or the tools and materials you use to create it. Sometimes a new stencil, a paint color, or a tempting new technique I just discovered will be my seed of inspiration. I’ll go searching for a quote (one of my all-time favorite activities) that inspires me and then translate my feelings, ideas, impressions, and thoughts with my favorite art tools to create art that matches or enhances the mood, meaning, or message of the quote. What thrills me is how the final effect of the quote plus art is always greater than the individual parts.

I’ve always been drawn to any art that incorporates text, so I favor pieces that incorporate the words of the quote. As a bonus, it’s a sure way to get people to look at your art. Who can resist reading the words and the message you choose to include in this personal expression we call art? 

The magic of Inspirational Quotes Illustrated comes from the 130 works of individual artistic self-expression from mixed media artists just like you, paired with the written self-expression of insightful men and women, known and unknown, from across ages and places: Lao Tau (500 BC), Sarah Bernhardt, Andy Warhol, and Jodie Foster, to name a few.

I now turn this over to you. What’s your favorite quote? Can you pick just one? What feelings, imagery, colors, and textures come to mind when you sit with your quote a while? What tools, materials, and techniques will you use to express it? When you're done, send me a photo to be considered for my Illustrated Quote of the Month feature on my website. Include what quote you chose, how it inspired you, and how you made your art. ~Lesley

Editor's Note: Lesley's Inspirational Quotes Illustrated is featured in this exclusive kit that includes her book, plus The Art of Whimsical Lettering, Artful Lettering (DVD), and many art supplies to get you started. Click here to get your kit now while it's on sale.




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