UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — Of all the images to have emerged from the post-presidential George W. Bush, few have been as startling – or as revealing – as his paintings. It’s an unlikely hobby that has developed into a passion for the former president.
Bush told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that he now paints daily, and works with what he called a “patient” instructor once a week at his Dallas home. “I love to paint. It is — painting has changed my life in an unbelievably positive way,” the former president said.
When former President Bush’s beloved Scottish Terrier Barney died, he posted this original oil painting he had made of the dog.
Bush has said he was inspired to paint by reading Winston Churchill’s “Painting as a Pastime.” He told Sawyer that his new activity has helped him continue to learn, following the example of his father, former President George H.W. Bush.
“You know what the interesting lesson is though, that you can keep learning in life. I mean, some guy one time said to me, ‘Man, you deserve to rest.’ And I don’t wanna rest. I wanna live life to the — I wanna follow the example of President 41 and, you know, sprint into the grave.”
Painting, Bush said, has “been eye-opening for me. I mean, I look at colors differently and I see shadow.” He’s also particularly proud of one of his self-portraits, which leaked online earlier this year when someone hacked a relative’s e-mail account. That painting shows his own toes poking out of a bathtub, with the water running.
“By the way, that’s not that easy to paint, water hitting water just so, you know, and the perspective… It’s a beauty, isn’t it?” he said. “It may reflect my precocious nature, me painting myself in a bathtub,” he added half-seriously, playing art critic.
But the former president said he knows enough about his limitations as an artist not to believe those who say he has real talent.
“Fortunately, I haven’t seen those reviews,” he said. “Look, the signature is more valuable than the painting.”