When word leaked recently that former president George W. Bush had taken up painting as his post-presidency hobby, I chose not to post anything about it, figuring that doing so would trigger a "Bush is dumb" orgy in the comment thread and frankly I'm kind of over that sort of thing. Personally, I just want to forget about the Bush years and move on.
But as more and more of his work has gotten out -- thanks largely to a hack of Bush's email account -- it's become harder and harder for me to ignore the paintings, mainly because I find myself being a little charmed and kind of impressed by them.
When Bush's painting of Barney, the First Family's now-deceased dog, was released, I took comfort in the fact that Art Fag City, an art blog I like and respect a lot, complimented the work.
George W. Bush is clearly a wildlife painter. For all our reservations about his modeling of the human figure, we can’t get past how charming his dog portraits are. This one shows Bush’s true talents: an attention to curvature, light, and differentiated brush strokes. It’s the only dog painting we’ve seen by him, but so far, so good.
Here's the Barney painting in question, in the event you haven't seen it...
Most of the paintings I'd seen before yesterday were of dogs -- his art teacher said he painted over 50 dogs just in the month she spent giving him instruction in Florida -- but then Gawker published twelve more they received via the recent email hack and gosh darn I'm even more charmed now!
My favorite of this latest batch is the one up top of a dog at the gates of the White House. I'm kinda picky about what I like when it comes to art but I would actually consider putting that on a wall in my house somewhere, even if it weren't painted by a former president. All of his works are signed simply "43" and you just know that they'll be hella-valuable one day because of who he is.
On the following pages is a sampling of Bush's other work. Enjoy. Feel free to tell me I'm crazy for liking some of these in the comments.
Still life grapes!
A lovely home!
A country road!