George W. Bush to unveil paintings
April 3rd, 2014
09:47 PM ET
9 months ago

George W. Bush to unveil paintings

Dallas (CNN) - As former President George W. Bush unveils his paintings for the first time publicly, he said he expects some of the world leaders who were his artistic subjects to be surprised at the quality.

"I think they're going to be (like), 'Wow, George Bush is a painter,"' Bush told NBC's "Today" show in an interview set to air Friday. "I'm sure when they heard I was painting, (they said), 'Wow, I look forward to seeing a stick figure he painted of me.'"

Among those he painted were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama.

More than two dozen never-before-seen portraits by Bush will go on public display Saturday at his presidential library in Dallas, in an exhibit entitled “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy.” The exhibit, which will also include photographs and artifacts, will explore Bush’s relationships with world leaders while in office.

Grading Bush's paintings

Bush’s paintings first came to light after a hacker last year obtained private Bush family e-mails, which included photos of some of his work. Among the paintings were self-portraits of the 43rd President in the shower and the bathtub while he was looking in a mirror, and some of the paintings featured dogs.

When he was asked about the leaks, Bush told NBC, "It’s an invasion of one's privacy. And yeah, I was annoyed. And nor do I want my paintings to get out. And I found it very interesting the first painting that came out was the one I painted of myself in the bathtub. I did so because I wanted to kind of shock my instructor."

Bush, who started painting lessons after he left the White House in 2009, said he hopes the leaders he chose to depict will take it in the right spirit. "That was the spirit of friendship and that I admire them as leaders and was willing to give it a shot in terms of getting people to see how I felt about them,” Bush told his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, a "Today" correspondent for a segment previewing the exhibit.

He has been reluctant up until now to release any of his works, saying they weren’t ready for public viewing and that he is still learning.

Since leaving office Bush has dedicated his time to two major projects – the program to save the lives of Africans who have AIDS and efforts to help the nation’s veterans, including helping them to find jobs. He also has refused to publicly discuss politics.

Add that all together, and Americans have begun to see him in a better light. Forty nine percent viewed him favorably while 46% saw him unfavorably according to a poll last June from Gallup. When Bush left office in 2009, only 40% of Americans held a favorable opinion of him, a number which sunk to 35% in March of that year before beginning a slow climb out from under water.


Filed under: George W. Bush • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Earl

    I have to hand it to Bush–he was the most miserable president in my lifetime....But he is a pretty good painter. The man definitely missed his calling.

    April 4, 2014 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  2. bassman

    Pres. Bush was interviewed by his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager. A network should use Bristol Palin in the same way. She could be a special correspondent. On her blog she addresses many currant events.

    April 4, 2014 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  3. Obama Election Year Hug Dept.

    More people view George Bush favorably than view Obama!! No wonder business stinks here at the Obama Election Year Hug Dept.

    April 4, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    He's actually quite good judging from that painting of Putin.

    April 4, 2014 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. Norma Vessels

    As one amateur to another, the painting of Putin isn't bad. Human faces are the most difficult to paint. This doesn't change my view of George W Bush when he was our President, but I have to give him credit for what he's accomplished as an artist, in such a short time. I'm not sure he will surpass being an amateur, though.

    April 4, 2014 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  6. Lewis

    Very good W. What a very pretty picture. We'll put it right up on the refrigerator so everyone can see it.

    April 4, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Bush is pretty darn good. The painting of Putin has an unfinished look to it, though. I look a tthe right eye and I see detail being added. But, then it seems like he suddenly stopped adding details and left it unfinished.

    April 4, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  8. Ted

    Great! He should sell them to all of his groupies and donate the money to Wounded Warrior Project.

    April 4, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  9. Lucy

    He may not have been the best president but at least he tried to help us, as evidenced by his humble service to others now – and he's a pretty good painter!

    April 4, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  10. Nancy Schade

    As an artist who studied at the oldest fine arts school in America, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and won the figure sculpture award there, I want to honor President Bushes bold , courageous journey into painting, the American Portrait Society I am sure would welcome him as a member and I hope he reads this comment because I live in Vermont,the state he did not visit in his presidency, and rightly so, it is turned hopelessly from a liberal Republican welcoming state to a rigid Democrat state since I moved here in 1969. I would love to come to Maine when he is visiting his family and teach him to do sculpture portraits, he would grow on from the experience and learn to paint on larger canvases leaving more space around his portraits and to see better the BIG PICTURE as sculpture helps one to see all the drawing dementions while expanding ones vision. There I hope to hear from President Bush as I received a thank you letter from his father after leaving a sculpture of a sleeping bear at the gated home in Kennebunkport after his grand mother died and his father lost to Clinton the election.I do not know ow to contact this artist directly, but hope he reads this note, I have been teaching at Trapp Family Lodge 30 years and did a posthumous portrait of Mrs. Trapp as well as the murals in their lodges, so it would be easy to come to Maine for a week this summer and introduce president Bush to the wonders of clay from whence we sprung into the breath after many attempts at becoming . Thank you and keep working , but in this order; PLAY,CREATE,WORK. Thus we learn to love our work from washing dishes to painting murals to sculpting presidents. Go forth joyously, and have no fear for the Great I AM is with you, Always , Nancy Schade PS I will not abandon art to run for Presidency,

    April 4, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Quite impressive.

    April 4, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  12. observer

    Anybody else notice that some of his previous "works" were based on photos of the Abu Ghraib abuse? No conscience.

    April 4, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  13. just me

    Terrible, terrible president. But he does have a gift for painting.

    April 4, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Good morning Rudy NYC and Lynda Minnesota
    Happy Friday to you both.
    Rudy I belatedly read about your upcoming sabbatical.
    I wsh you a complete recovery and hope that you return to us soon.

    April 4, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  15. blah

    Next Dubya will unveil his greatest masterpiece ever: a single intelligent thought.

    April 4, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama
    Good morning Rudy NYC and Lynda Minnesota
    Happy Friday to you both.

    SNOW. Lots of snow.... !

    April 4, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. kwvining

    Maybe Bush could do a self portrait of himself with the blood and guts of murdered Iraqi children killed in his "Shock and Awe" Pearl Harbor-style sneak attack when he launched his Hitler-style invasion of Iraq.

    April 4, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Kevin

    George W not my favorite president, but this is pretty cool. Also – "Since leaving office Bush has dedicated his time to two major projects – the program to save the lives of Africans who have AIDS and efforts to help the nation’s veterans, including helping them to find jobs. He also has refused to publicly discuss politics." – classy guy!

    April 4, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Good morning Rudy NYC and Lynda Minnesota
    Happy Friday to you both.
    Rudy I belatedly read about your upcoming sabbatical.
    I wsh you a complete recovery and hope that you return to us soon.
    ----------------------------------
    Thanks. I might not be posting, but I'll try to eavesdrop as much as possible.

    April 4, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. s

    ....and this is political news how?

    April 4, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda Minnesota
    SNOW. Lots of snow.... !
    -------------------------------------------------
    WHAAAAAT?!
    It's April! But then again we've had some insignificant (by comparison) form of accumulation EVERY Sunday/Monday
    in the month of March here in the wacky WMV area (Wash., Maryland, Virginia).
    Brrrr for you my friend, stay warm and inside!

    April 4, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. bcrunner

    I guess after he looked into Putin's eyes and saw his heart, this is what he came up with?

    I must admit, the worst president of my lifetime is a pretty good artist. Maybe he should have stuck with that.

    April 4, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. Ken

    No amount of PR with his paintings and daughter will change the facts on the ground, Bush is a War Criminal responsible for not only nearly 5,000 U.S. KIA and over 30,000 WIA in Iraq, but the countless thousands of innocent Iraqis killed, wounded and forced into exile. I wonder, does Bush ever think of the thousands of Iraqi children he killed and wounded in his lies for war in Iraq? Perhaps he thinks about it when painting, but I doubt it, not in him!

    April 4, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. WOW

    A true leader and a talent...we miss you Mr. President!

    April 4, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. rad666

    Any paintings of the WMDs found in Iraq?

    April 4, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
1 2