April 15th, 2013

More Bush art

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of George Bush (which we were)—here’s another article about Bush in his new avocation: painter.

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:


12 Responses to “More Bush art”

  1. carl in atlanta Says:

    If president Bush would deign to give me any one of his paintings I could almost certainly retire from the proceeds I’d realize from its sale!

    He’s really very good.

  2. Jan of MN Says:

    There’s something just delightful about Bush plunging into painting after his presidency. He’s always read a lot, so it’s not surprising that he would find the Churchill book. I’m going from here to Amazon to see if it’s still available!

  3. expat Says:

    I like his work too. It seems to have a testing quality to it–like he wants to see if he can capture the light on the tabletop.

  4. blert Says:

    Bush > Churchill — paintings wise.

    Churchill > Bush — speech wise.

  5. Charles Says:

    Quite well done for being labelled the “village idiot.”

  6. csimon Says:

    Hi IS very good! He has a very good understanding of perspective which is usually something one either has or doesn’t. It’s possible to learn certain “tricks” to create the look of perspective, but there are often many things in a painting or drawing in which perspective is important to the portrayal and frequently the “little tricks” are missed somewhere.

    Even more difficult and complicated is the play of light and portraying natural light, artificial light, and most especially, reflection. He nails it with that table (not so much with the ceiling lights but they are pretty much incidental objects that can be overlooked).

    He also portrays well the texture of the various things in the picture. For instance, his primitive handling of the wood (i.e. little attention to minute detail and understanding that wood (unvarnished does not reflect light conveys the textural “roughness” of the dark wood when compared with slick, shiny surfaces like the table.

    Well done!

    (When I first logged on, I really didn’t look at the picture. I started reading first — I got maybe a quick glance in my peripheral vision. I thought that it was a photograph! Upon reading the post, of course I took another much better look, and I was really surprised! Must have missed previous post on W’s painting.)
    Fun diversion from today’s awful news in Boston.

  7. Gary Rosen Says:

    It all looks like Michelangelo from where I sit. My art career began and ended in kindergarten when the teacher ripped up a picture I drew in front of the class.

  8. Surellin Says:

    That Churchill landscape – I liked it, but doesn’t he have the shadows falling in two very different directions? Oops.

  9. T Says:

    Gary Rosen,

    Shame on her. This is the old color within the lines syndrome. To revile a child’s product as unacceptable at the kindergarten level is absurd. Who knows, you might have been the next Jackson Pollock.

  10. roc scssrs Says:

    I’m surprised that no one on the Left has brought up the fact that Hitler painted too.

  11. Charles Says:

    roc scssrs; yes, Hitler painted, but he was rejected by art school.

    Not that it really makes the real difference between them, but . . .

    Bush and Churchill took up painting AFTER being successful politicians.

    Hitler took up warmongering and genocide after being a failure at painting.

    The world would have been better off if Hitler could have painted a little better.

  12. Gary Rosen Says:


    Folks tend to react to that story as if I had been molested! But while I can’t say I was thrilled I was not surprised because I knew it sucked before I handed it in (or maybe even started it). I already knew at that age that art was not my long suit.

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