A Conversation:

The Space behind the Dream, excerpts from a memoir

Roy Witlin

Year of the Peacock

Varya Witlin

Whale Song

Varya in front of one of Roy's last eleven mandala paintings, all of which she donated to the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.


year of the Peacock

Varya Witlin

Luminous paintings, some very large, hung on each wall of his townhouse. They were airbrushed  on the reverse side of Plexiglas and their smooth surfaces had the radiance of church windows.     


“The paintings with spherical designs,” I remarked, “are in fact Mandalas -- archetypal spiritual symbols.”                                                  I  saw them as cosmic images but he denied that his work had any spiritual meaning.                        “Painting in reverse on Plexiglas  is a technical challenge,"  he replied. " I'm  a businessman, Varya and my work sells  the way Coco Chanel sold dresses made of unusual fabrics.”

After looking at my slides he said,   “I've had lots of shows,  but your pictures are more personal and expressive than mine.   They make me think of the music of Sibelius. ..The movement  is like dancing or floating...and the most effective ones are not  overcomplicated.  Do you sketch ideas before starting a painting?”

"Sometimes it helps to sketch ideas.   A lot of creative work is about  selection, choosing the ideas that  will succeed.  .  It’s only the things I get right that matter to me. as an artist”


And so began our nightly discussions about  our artwork, continuing even after I was diagnosed with chemical sensitivities and could no longer paint.  For all his insight, it was not until much later that he truly recognized the emotional and spiritual nature of his art -that it was not "just an interesting technique."      

But I had become sensitized to art materials and it would be many years before I was strong enough to do artwork again, using only pencil, watercolors and oil pastels .