Ep 12: George W. Bush (Part 3) - How Art & Learning Can Bring You Into Mindfulness & Joy


Have you ever wondered how or why President Bush took up painting after he left the White House? He attributes his willingness to try something completely new to having an open mind and some inspiration from Winston Churchill. In this episode, we continue our conversation with the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, and we talk about his passion for painting.

We learn about his first paintings. How Barbara Bush challenged him to paint her dogs, and how painting is a constant learning experience that always has new challenges. President Bush talks about how his work has evolved, how he gets lost in painting, how he sees color differently, and more.


George W. Bush

Twitter: @TheBushCenter

Instagram: @georgewbush



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Show Notes

  • [01:26] President Bush needs to be busy and engaged. Writing books, giving speeches, working at the Bush center, and exercising were not enough.

  • [02:00] He was inspired by Painting As a Pastime by Winston Churchill and decided to give painting a try.

  • [02:04] President Bush announced that he wanted to start painting. He starting taking lessons and started with a cube, a watermelon, and an apple.

  • [03:09] One of the things that President Bush did was take a MoMA art history course. He also started studying other artists and the history of art.

  • [03:30] President Bush sent his mother some painting of melons and she said there was room for improvement.

  • [04:10] Barbara Bush then challenged him to paint her dogs and he became a pet portrait painter.

  • [04:19] Painting is a learning experience. There are no limits. You can't conquer painting. It is a constant challenge.

  • [05:35] When oil painting if you don't like something, you can scrape it off. This helps build confidence and over time President Bush's confidence grew.

  • [06:04] He enjoys painting faces, and he paints himself a lot.

  • [06:45] Doro was always encouraging of George W. Bush's painting. Doro loves the fact that if someone is passionate about something they can become good at it at any age.

  • [07:28] For President Bush, painting has been a nice lesson about being open enough to try things.

  • [08:28] Oils are much more forgiving than watercolors.

  • [10:00] President Bush painted wounded warriors. The first warrior he painted was Chris Turner. Part of the healing process for wounded warriors is talking about the process with people who understand what they are saying. He painted a dark Chris Turner and then an optimistic Chris Turner.

  • [11:49] He also wanted to help these warriors transition to civilian life and be able to tell their story.

  • [12:35] President Bush likes to view post traumatic stress as an injury that can be healed, not a disorder that can't be healed.

  • [12:54] They have a warrior network where they have golf tournaments and bike rides. This is a peer to peer network where they can help each other.

  • [14:04] The Bush library and Institute is currently working on domestic excellence, good education practices, how to hire and retain good principles, relations with Mexico and Canada, good immigration policy, and leadership programs conjunction with other Presidential Libraries.

  • [14:57] They are about freedom and have the papers and stories of people who have fought for freedom and lived through tyranny.

  • [15:45] Doro met the Dalai Lama, and he says he loves George W. Bush.

  • [16:30] Doro shares words that makes her think of George W. Bush.

  • [17:38] President Bush has a curious mind and loves to read. He thinks everyone should read the Bible, Modern Times by Paul Johnson, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • [18:07] One of President Bush's favorite quotes is Teddy Roosevelt's quote about it's not the critic who counts.

  • [19:33] Looking 10 years into the future, President Bush sees himself painting, riding mountain bikes, golfing, and swarmed by grandkids.

Links and Resources:

Painting As a Pastime by Winston Churchill


Dan Nevins

Portraits of Courage

Chris Turner

Rod Rodriguez

George W. Bush Presidential Center


The Woman in the Window

A Gentleman in Moscow

Modern Times by Paul Johnson

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Man in the Arena

“If Winston Churchill can paint, I can paint.” George W. Bush

“You don't know what you can do until you try.” George W. Bush

“Painting and studying art and the history of art has been a life changing experience.” George W. Bush