George W Bush presents TV host Jay Leno with a portrait - and it ain't half bad

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The former president's hobby really gathered steam when he hired an art teacher to give him pointers

When he was in office his critics called him a paint-by-numbers president. But it turns out that in retirement, George W Bush is a bit of dab-hand with the brush and palette.

Take a look at the portrait he did of Jay Leno in time for an appearance on his late night show on Tuesday. It ain’t half bad.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see more paintings by George Bush

“I’m a painter,” Mr Bush told the host at the start of a conversation that mostly centred on his hopes for his legacy and why he has kept such a low profile since departing the White House nearly five years ago.

“You may not think I’m a painter. I think I’m a painter.”

The hobby, he revealed, really gathered steam when he hired an art teacher to give him pointers at his and former first lady Laura’s home in the posh Preston Hollow enclave in Dallas, Texas.

“There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body,” he said he told her at the first of their weekly sessions. “Your job is to find it.”

The appearance started after Mr Leno threw some arrows in the direction of his guest’s successor, Barack Obama, and the current flap over the roll-out of his healthcare reforms.

It led Mr Bush almost to commiserate and express thanks it isn’t him taking the flak. “Eight years is plenty. I don’t miss the spotlight.”

Even going to Mr Leno’s studio was a break from Mr Bush’s preferred mode of virtual post-presidency purdah. Keeping out of Mr Obama’s way has been his guiding philosophy since leaving Washington.

“I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president criticise his successor,” Mr Bush said.

The 43rd president said  he remains relaxed about his legacy, never mind the memories of his rotten poll numbers when he left and the scars of the Iraq War.

“You have to believe in what you’re doing, first and foremost,” he offered. “I relied upon my faith, my family helped a lot and I had a good team around me and did the best I could do. I’m also very comfortable with the fact that it’s going to take a while for history to judge whether the decisions I made are consequential or not. And therefore I’m not too worried about it.”

Even when asked about a health scare this October when doctors found an almost entirely blocked artery to the heart and inserted a stent, Mr Bush evinced total calm.

“I wasn’t that scared,” he insisted.

As for why it happened, he replied: “I didn’t behave that well when I was younger and I might have smoked some.”

“You had Obamacare?” Mr Leno joked, but again failed to get the former president to comment.

The wide-ranging interview also took in the latest addition to the Bush family, his daughter Jenna’s new baby, which Mr Bush admitted had been difficult to get used to. He said he had difficultly connecting with the baby, “cause the kid didn’t say much” although now he said he was “hooked”.

Clearly the painting is working well as therapy.

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power