Last February I wrote my evaluation of Bush as a painter. Now that I’ve looked at reproductions of a few more of his works, I see nothing to change my mind: he’s pretty good. Here’s his rendition of a room at his Crawford ranch, which I think is definitely a distinct cut above average for an amateur. What he does here with the light on the table top is not easy:
Here’s the story of how it all began:
The art came about a year or so ago, after Bush did some “doodles to communicate with our girls.” His wife showed them to Dallas artist Pamela Nelson, a longtime friend, who thought the former president might have some talent.
Bush thought Nelson was joking. But he had read the book Painting as a Pastime, written by another famous amateur painter, Winston Churchill. After further scoping out the British prime minister’s work, he decided to give it a try.
Bush connected with Gail Norfleet, a Dallas artist and SMU graduate who offers some private instruction. He now paints almost daily. He takes lessons from Norfleet about once a week. He paints lots of pets, but also landscapes and still-lifes…
Nelson, who’s tracked Bush’s progress, said she’s been impressed by his focus and discipline.
“He’s pretty fearless as an artist,” she said.
I’m not the least bit surprised that Bush read Churchill’s book. I didn’t even know that Churchill had ever written a book on painting, although I certainly knew he painted as a hobby and was quite accomplished at it. But I think Bush is considerably better, and somewhat less conventional in his vision.
You may prefer Churchill’s work, though, which consisted almost entirely of landscapes—take a look. Here’s one of the best ones, IMHO: