George W. Bush has taken up painting since leaving the limelight, and even his former political rivals are impressed with his work.
Bush showed off one of his paintings on a recent ride aboard Air Force One to a group that included former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The moment was captured by White House photographer Pete Souza, showing Hillary with an impressed look. Next to the smiling Hillary was National Security Adviser Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder, who both looked enthralled with the former president’s work.
While other former presidents have maintained a high profile since leaving office, George W. Bush has preferred to remain quiet. He has stayed away from politics entirely, refusing to comment on his successor Barack Obama even while members of his White House have been publicly critical.
Instead, Bush has poured his energy into painting.
“I don’t long for [fame]. Nor do I long for power,” Bush told The Huffington Post at his annual Warrior 100K bike race held at his Texas ranch earlier this year. “I’ve come to realize that power can be corrosive if you’ve had it for too long. It can dim your vision.
“And so I came to the conclusion that, you know, I don’t long for fame. And really, gonna shy away from it. Not shy away from it. Avoid it. I’m not very shy. Avoid it.”
George W. Bush said that painting has changed his life, giving him an outlet for his creativity that he never had before.
“People are surprised,” Bush told ABC News. “Of course, some people are surprised I can even read.”
Painting isn’t the only creative outlet that George W. Bush has found since leaving the White House. He also designed a Christmas ornament that features a Cardinal perched on a branch. The ornament, which sells for $29.98 through his presidential library, is so popular that it has been on back order for several weeks.
(George W. Bush photo via the White House)