Former President George W. Bush has taken up painting since stepping away from the crises he faced while in the Oval Office. Although the past President has kept a low profile since 2009, his appearance on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday with Jay Leno revealed a much happier George Bush, who says he wants to paint like Sir Winston Churchill.
After enjoying an essay by Sir Winston Churchill, George W. Bush decided to pursue painting. He sought an instructor who could nurture his natural talents, and started taking weekly lessons.
What about Sir Winston Churchill’s writings could inspire George W. Bush to paint? The answer is simple but profound, and can be answered rhetorically: what could Sir Winston Churchill’s writings not do?
As a journalist and renowned British Prime Minister, Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. Churchill was a great man, a maverick politician, and a brilliant writer. As the prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill directed England during World War II, taking them from defeat to victory. A controversial figure, albeit one of the greatest statesmen of all time, Churchill is not the first person we think of when we conjure up well-known artists in American history.
George W. Bush mentioned how Churchill started painting during World War II, and pursued it the rest of his life. It was Churchill’s essay called “Painting as a Pastime” that galvanized him to move forward into learning the craft. This book made George Bush want to paint like Sir Winston Churchill.
Churchill’s essay has been praised in 1990 by Churchill’s youngest daughter, Mary Churchill Soames, who is now approaching her ninetieth birthday, and is the sole surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill:
“‘Painting as a Pastime’ is pure enchantment to read, throbbing as it does with enthusiasm and encouragement to others to seize brush and canvas and have a go, as Winston himself had done before, when, under the flail of misfortune, he had discovered in painting a companion with whom he was to walk for the greater part of the long years which remained to him.”
Churchill’s works have been discussed in a book called Sir Winston Churchill: Life Through His Paintings, and have received praise from the English press, as one art critic noted in 1949:
“Had he signed his pictures ‘Jones,’ the critic would still find himself pausing in front of them. At least a dozen of these pictures will stand against any of the best Impressionists.”
This private and extensive collection of Churchill’s paintings is licensed by the Churchill Heritage. It is written by the famous art critic David Coombs, who organized all of Churchill’s paintings shortly after his death in 1965. The book is co-authored by Minnie Churchill, Sir Winston’s granddaughter-in-law.
This awe-inspiring art book collected all of the paintings by Churchill, mostly oil on canvas, and offers readers a fascinating, rare glimpse of his life story through his paintings. The authors provided authoritative commentaries in the book, and included Sir Winston’s complete 1925 essay “Painting as a Pastime,” combined with 40 rare, previously unpublished colored and black and white photographs of Churchill in his lifetime.
George W. Bush admitted that eight years in the spotlight brought him to his knees before God to help him rejuvenate and enjoy life fully. George Bush has thanked his wife Laura and his faith in God for helping him overcome alcoholism.
When Jay Leno asked what caused a blocked artery triggering his heart attack in August, the 67-year-old former President Bush joked that it was because he had acted foolishly when he was younger, and smoked more than a few cigarettes.
On “The Tonight Show” Tuesday with Jay Leno, George W. Bush shared his renditions of dog Barney and his stray cat Bob (“so I can remember how to spell it when I got older”), and said painting has “changed his life.” When he offered Leno his portrait of the comedian, Leno said in awe, “I can’t make fun of him now.”
George W. Bush, who says he has a “Rembrandt trapped inside,” and wants to paint like Sir Winston Churchill, has many of us wishing that we could paint too. Creative awakenings make the world a brighter place.
By Danelle Cheney