MARCH, 2021

           I think some of the biggest bursts of creativity and artistic growth I’ve had are usually preceded by a big creative block.  Ashley Goldberg

creative block work in progress mixed media sharmon davidson
creative block work in progress sharmon davidson

          I give myself permission to just make for the sake of making without any thought to the outcome, which can be surprisingly hard. … What I would tell my younger self is this: There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there — just get to work and make something.            — Lisa Golightly

creative block shelter in place collage sharmon davidson

Above: Shelter in Place, mixed media collage on antique book cover, 9 x 6 in


Right: Everyone Will Be Tested, mixed media collage on vintage book cover, 17 x 11 in

Both of these have been changed slightly from when they were originally shown.

Creative Block


Back in May, I wrote about the negative effect the pandemic was having on my creativity. I just couldn’t seem to finish anything. I’d have an idea, and start the piece pretty strongly. But then, a huge wave of fear and  indecision would overcome me. I simply could not move forward, and was feeling pretty frustrated.




art and perfectionism work in progress sharmon davidson

Now what? This piece stayed in the drawer for a looooong time!

Of course, perfectionism played a big part in this. I wrote about it in this post. My problem was, I would get to a point where I felt the piece should/could be better, but how? I didn’t want to do the same old boring things I’d done before. And because I didn’t know how to make them better, I’d put them aside. Before too long, I had a drawer full of unfinished work.


Coming Unstuck


So, how did I get out of my creative block? I wish I had a simple answer for you, but I don’t. However, there were a couple of things I did that seemed to help.

First, I allowed myself to express my emotions through my art. It was very cathartic to make work about my fears and angst, rather than to suppress it or ignore it. This resulted in the first finished pieces I made during that time, which were included in the Art in the Time of Corona online exhibition.

art and perfectionism time to put on your big girl pants mixed media collage sharmon davidson

                          Time to Put On Your Big Girl Pants,                           collage on vintage book cover, 7 x 9.5 in


creative block everyone will be tested collage sharmon davidson

         The troublesome parts of our work, the parts that are most baffling and frustrating, are in fact the growing edges.                    — Stephen Nachmanovitch

The Growing Edges

Secondly, I consciously kept experimenting with new ways of working, even if I wasn’t making finished work. It’s hard for me to explain what I mean by this in a concrete way, but maybe I can give you an example.

For instance, I decided I wanted to try blending two faces so that they looked as if they were woven together. I looked at it as “practice” so as not to put pressure on myself. I also practiced playing with positive/negative space in ways I’d never tried before. Finding new ways to work was uncomfortable at first, but ultimately led to growth. Finally, some of these “experiments” began turning into finished collages.


creative block in memorium mixed media collage sharmon davidson

In Memorium, mixed media collage on antique book cover, 12.5 x 9 in

Falling in Love

I recently read a very good article about creative block by Daisy Ein. One thing that stood out to me was what she said about boredom:

“I think it’s important to continually fall in love with your work. Enjoy and feel pride in your progress, no matter how small. Remind yourself of why you’re doing this—and if there isn’t an inspiring reason, maybe something has to change.” 

If I’m bored with what I’m doing, it’s impossible to be inspired. It’s time to explore those “growing edges”, and fall in love with my work again.

creative block once we were goddesses collage sharmon davidson

Once We Were Goddesses, mixed media collage on vintage book cover, 17 x 12.5 in

Yes, I even finished this one! Are they all perfect? No. But at least I can now finish something, accept it as it is, and move on. And best of all, I learn something from making each one. That’s got to count in the plus column, right?


What do you do when faced with artist’s block? Any tips or advice you can share?

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”    – Ray Bradbury


  1. Andrea Knarr

    So much goes into creativity, but the common thread for all of us I think is just to MAKE SOMETHING, it can be anything, it just needs to let the mind escape into the hands. I have to credit Brian Stuparyk for this one: “Find your entry point”. For me, it is crosshatching across the page of good paper with no idea where it will lead. The tedium and repetition create a rhythm, like a mantra, and I can get into the beginning of work. No judgement – that comes later of course – but a familiar comfort zone, in which to encourage my imagination.

    • Sharmon Davidson

      Hi Andrea, thanks for visiting! You are so right, and it sounds so easy to just MAKE SOMETHING, except when it’s not! Luckily, I don’t get artist’s block often. Being in the zone, with no judgement, is indeed the key! I like your “aimless crosshatching” meditation. For me, it’s often just gluing things with no preconceived idea that does it.


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