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Arnold Westerman ’48

Painting of “Waiting” by Arnold Westerman ’48

“Waiting” by Arnold Westerman ’48

When he was a kid, Arne loved to draw. He devoured the colorful illustrations in books like Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and Robin Hood, and hoped to one day be a famous illustrator, such as Howard Pyle or N.C. Wyeth, or to create cartoons for the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and the New Yorker.

He grew up during the Depression in old South Portland, then largely a Jewish and Italian immigrant neighborhood, and attended Shattuck Elementary School and Lincoln High School. But in addition wanting to be an artist, Arne dreamed of becoming a doctor and attended Reed for premed studies. World War II intervened, and after serving as a medical corpsman in the U.S. Army, he soured on medicine. Returning to school on the GI Bill, he got his bachelor’s in journalism at the University of Oregon. In 1948, Arne married his wife, Claire, and a few years later opened his own advertising agency. Thirty years later, he was ready for a change.

“What can I possibly do that young people can’t do better?” he asked himself. Arne was already selling his art in California and Portland. He decided to bet on his experience as an artist, and in 1980 sold his agency. Arne had studied with master watercolorist Charles Reid, and had developed a style that was more suggestive than realistic, capturing emotion with strong color and sparse details. When viewers use their imagination to fill in the details, he said, they participate in the creative process.

Arne taught art classes around the world, and his art is featured in public galleries, art museums, colleges including Reed College, and private collections. He authored two art books: Paint Watercolors Filled with Light and Energy and How to Become an Artist Through Pain and Suffering. In addition to being an artist, Arne was a trumpeter and Royal Rosarian, known for his wonderful sense of humor, helping the homeless, charitable giving, and art philanthropy. He is survived by his wife, Claire, and three children, Martin Westerman, Alan Westerman, and Judy Gehman.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2017

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