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  • Peyton Cram

Denying Your Journey: The origins of the reflective people

Stepping back from the canvas, brush gripped in my hand, a featureless figure huddled on their knees stared back at me. Frozen. Staring at eh image before me, an "Oh," resounding in my core. It was quite the interesting start to a series I didn't ask for.


Alas, I wasn't aware at the time of the significance this featureless figure was going to have in my artwork, let alone in my personal life. All I knew was this figure made me uncomfortable. Every time I looked at it, I saw despair and no matter how much I tried to brush it off, I kept coming back to this painting. So image my frustration when I painted another one and then another.


They say messages from the universe will keep coming until you listen to them. It'll get louder and more uncomfortable until you do. These figures were no exception, however, I'm the definition of stubborn and can survive discomfort for a while. I began to call them "Non-people" when people kept inquiring about them. Wanting a look into my process. I just couldn't bring myself to take emotional responsibility of their creation and referring to them as "non-people" successfully put a wall between them and me.


Each time people inquired about them, I side stepped them like a pro.

"They have no features so people can project what they need onto them."

"Eh, they're just blown up stick figures."

The only person I was fooling was myself. For almost 2 years.


These figures continued to take on a life of their own, developing their own voices. It wasn't until I was speaking to a college class about trauma and healing, that it clicked. I was sitting on a desk in the front of the class, my feet dangling above the floor. I had brought Entombed, Journey, and Solace as speaking points and there is was staring at me. The reason why I kept painting these pieces, regardless of how hard I tried to dismiss them. These figures are me. I tried to reject these figures the same way I treated myself.


Entombed 2017


Journey 2018

Solace 2018


I'm on a life-long healing journey from an eating disorder and trauma and my self view was, and still can be from time to time, warped. It's not something I share lightly, because healing is hard work and putting myself out there is terrifying. However, my figures, whom I'm now calling "Reflective People," have taught me a whole host of lessons I'd like to share and if you're viewing my pieces, should know the place they are coming from. They've taught me no single journey is the same. There is a rich uniqueness to each individual's journey regardless of how bumpy a ride it is. It will be bumpy, take you in circles, leave you exhausted, and sometimes have you on your knees asking "why?" But it will also be awe-inspiring, be full of wonderful people who beautiful splashes of color upon the canvas of your life. Life is a series of side quests.


So this is my message to you, if you've made it this far in the blog, your story is going to have bumps, backspaces, ink spots, run-ons…those make you who you are. There is no shame in asking for help, there is no need to regret. Your story still matters and your healing pace is yours uniquely. This is coming from a person who had to learn to ask for help, love themself, and learn to go with their own pace. Keep on going, keep on breathing. I'm cheering you on. Lastly, sometimes you need your artwork to tell you what is going on.

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