Bush on painting: 'There's a Rembrandt trapped in this body'

It could be many years before history will judge the decisions former President George W. Bush made in the White House, the 43rd president told Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" Tuesday night. For now, though, he’ll paint.

In a rare TV appearance, the former president shared his new hobby with the late-night personality, even presenting Leno with a portrait of himself. In the past, Bush has painted everything from cats and dogs to a scene of himself taking a shower.

Bush, 67, explained to Leno that the artistic streak began after reading "Painting as a Pastime," an essay by Winston Churchill, who himself produced several portraits and landscape pieces.

"There's a Rembrandt trapped in this body," Bush said he told his painting instructor. "It's your job to find it."

Since leaving office, Bush has kept a relatively low profile. In addition to taping "The Tonight Show," he was in Los Angeles for a talk at USC that was closed to the media.

When Leno asked Bush why he has steered away from commenting on politics and policy, Bush said it's counterproductive for a former president to criticize his successor. During the interview, Leno asked Bush how he dealt with the stress that comes with the presidency.

"You have to believe in what you're doing," he said. "I relied upon my faith, my family helped a lot and I had a good team around me. I 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."

Discussing his legacy, Bush went on to joke: "I've read some biographies of [George] Washington. My attitude is, if they're still writing biographies of the first guy, the 43rd guy doesn't need to worry about it."

When Leno observed that Bush looked more relaxed, the former president responded by simply saying, "No kidding — duh."

If you're a fan of the president's painting (and crazy about foreign policy), here's something to keep your eyes out for: Bush has plans for a portrait series of 19 world leaders from his time in office.

The full "Tonight Show" interview in two parts:


'Selfie' is the word of the year, thanks to you

McCaughey septuplets turn 16, want to drive

Paying alcoholics in beer to clean Amsterdam streets: Good or bad?

Twitter: @danielrothberg


Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World