A Little Perspective

Christopher Westfall was driving his wife Cheryl to the doctor last August when, all of a sudden, his eyes went dark. He couldn’t see.

Westfall is an artist best known for his renderings of Tulsa cityscapes, but when a stroke left him unable to see well enough to paint the detail necessary for an accurate portrait of the town, he changed his perspective.

Cheryl’s appointment became Chris’s, and after a battery of tests, visits to specialists and a couple of guesses, his doctors finally decided he had had a small stroke that killed the nerves behind his eyes. He was left with double vision and vertigo, both of which made it impossible for him to paint the cityscapes he had pained for the past 22 years, the ones his fans and patrons loved so much.

Not one to put down the paint brush, though, Westfall began to do something he had never done before – he painted abstracts.

“What I found out about abstracts is that they’re the same as any painting: They involve color and composition. But, you can eliminate a lot of the details,” he said.

Westfall said he found painting abstracts “freeing.” When he’s painting landscapes or cityscapes, especially for a client, they have to look like what they represent.

“These don’t have to look like anything in particular,” he said. “There are no set rules. I love that.”

Westfall regained his sight gradually over the course of about three months, and he has returned to his cityscapes, but he still paints the abstracts when he can.

And even though they’re different, looking at one of his abstracts next to a painting of downtown, you can see the similarities between the works. You can still see Westfall’s style in the abstracts, in the color palettes and brush strokes.

His abstract work isn’t on display now, but you can see traditional Westfall paintings at Mayfest this weekend in the Invitational Gallery and at M.A. Doran Gallery, 3509 S. Peoria, as part of the "National Contemporary Realism" show, through the end of the month.