Art is life is art: April – SURRENDER

The word for April is SURRENDER.

After a discussion about the creative process, my friend, Meghan Arias and I decided to embrace a bit of structure in the form of a monthly prompt.  It’s pretty simple.  We choose a word; we respond.  {You are welcome to join us by linking to your response in the comment section.}

I’ve been contemplating the idea of SURRENDER for weeks now.  I looked at dictionary definitions and I wrote words.


[suh-ren-der] to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield. {In case you were wondering.}

At first, the main image in my mind’s eye was a white flag.  I imagined climbing out of a foxhole and walking across a field with my hands up.  But I never could decide who the “enemy” was and what I was giving up.  Besides, that image is dripping with negative connotation and wasn’t really a match for the excitement I felt in taking up this collaboration.  Eventually, after much journaling and thinking out in the garden, I landed on the image of a flowing stream.  This is what I painted.


I realized that for me, getting in the flow of a current is a more accurate picture.  The surrender that was on my heart, was not a losing-a-battle surrender, but a yielding.  An acceptance of where and who I am. I wanted to capture the sensation of flowing water and the movement of thought that we face, as we make decisions and move through life.

Surrender {detail}

I love that some of the close up shots look like waterfalls.

Surrender {detail}

And others capture the organic quality of movement and flow.

Surrender {detail}

Somewhere in my musings, I realized that for me, TRUST and SURRENDER are intimately connected.  I find it extremely difficult to surrender to a situation where I don’t trust.  {Either the people or the circumstance}  As I began to paint from the preliminary Sharpie marker sketch in my journal, I decided that the painting needed a boat.   Not a big boat or even something with a paddle, but a paper boat.  One being swept away by the current.  Not a terrifying, out-of-control, sweeping away, but a choice-to-be-in-the-flow-of-life.  Like a child lovingly releasing a favorite paper boat.

Surrender {detail}

The initial under-painting was dark.  Too dark.  Probably born out of my searching {and the difference between acrylic and marker}  But silver paint, like reflections on the water, lightened things up and gave the cohesiveness that  I was looking for.   The silver, like SURRENDER, unified the swirling thoughts on the bank and the moving water with the little paper boat called Trust.

Trust is a paper boat

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”

Anton Chekov

EDIT:  Yay!  Meghan just posted her response.  It’s a different take.   A lovely, heartfelt different take.

Go listen.

By | 2016-10-19T14:20:36+00:00 April 30th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|12 Comments

About the Author:

I create containers for words and paint and I fill them. I craft safe, sacred spaces for people to wrestle, create, heal and shout from the mountain tops.
And I teach people to do all of these things for themselves.

  • Elizabeth

    Beautiful! My two favorite things, swirls and water. Now if I could get the “surrender” part.

    Love the dimension that metallics add to art. Perfect for a water piece.

    • @Liz – no kidding. I don’t think I can create without swirls and circles… Oh, surrender. it’s been so wonderful meditating on you. {p.s. Liz, next time Phyllis Tickle is on this continent, we’re going. period. full stop.}

  • Your painting is absolutely beautiful! aah..surrender to the flow – I love all the movement and vitality – and the paper boat – genius!!

    • @Jennifer – such a spiritual and authentic painting for me. Not my usual style… but I am still becoming and finding who I am. 😉

  • What a lovely representation of surrender. Adding ‘trust’ to the boat is so fitting. I love the flow and the peace.

    I’m here from Meghan’s blog which I arrived at after watching her with Zack at Creative Live this weekend. Yep, bunny trails galore.

    • Dianne – thank you so much for following the bunny trail here. And thank you too, for your kind words. ‘Flow and peace’ is exactly what I was hoping to convey. More and more, I am turning into the concepts of contentment & intuition. {Not grumbling so much except in morning pages} To my delight, I am finding a child-like sense of play emerging in my art.

  • Melissa Dowling

    Ahhhh Betsy, just PERFECT!! Nothing more to say. Xx

    • Melissa – 🙂 thank you friend. Am so excited that you’ll be on this journey too.

  • Penny

    BG – How large is this painting? Is it for sale?

    I want to be you when I grow up.

    • Penny – 😀

      The painting is acrylic on 22×30 140lb/300gsm watercolor paper. The boat is a humble bit of copy paper from the recycle pile. Yes, it’s for sale. And there will be prints too – including some of the close-ups. Back story comes with all the prints. The original is currently tacked on the wall in my studio – I had to laugh because I’m not sure how it will ever be properly framed with that “paper boat called trust” riding the current.

      Our paths were definitely meant to cross because I want to be you too. Especially the follow-an-idea-all-the-way-to-the-end-and-change-the-world part. Talk to you soon my brilliant friend!

  • I love this. Fabulous combination of colors and movement.

    • Cynthia – thank you so much. These days, I’m engaging in less control and more play as I paint.