1. George W. Bush recently sat down with his daughter and Today correspondent, Jenna Bush Hager, to discuss his paintings of various world leaders.
The segment aired Friday on NBC’s Today show.
2. The paintings are part of an exhibit, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
3. It includes photographs and other memorabilia from Bush’s visits with the leaders.
4. Bush said he chose leaders he admired to be his subjects, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Also, José María Aznar of Spain and the Dalai Lama.
5. During the interview Friday, Bush recalled introducing Russian President Vladimir Putin to his beloved Scottish terrier, Barney.
“As you know, our dear dog Barney, who had a special place in my heart — Putin dissed him and said, ‘You call it a dog?’” Bush said. “A year later, your mom and I go to visit and Vladimir says, ‘Would you like to meet my dog?’ Out bounds this huge hound, obviously much bigger than a Scottish terrier, and Putin looks at me and says, ‘Bigger, stronger and faster than Barney.’”
“Vladimir is a person who in many ways viewed America as an enemy. I tried, of course, to dispel him of that notion,” Bush told his daughter.
6. “I wanted to make sure the last chapters of my life are full, and painting, it turns out, would help occupy not only space, but kind of open my mind,” Bush said.
7. Bush is extremely humble about his artwork.
“I’m not a great artist…I don’t want people to think I’m a great artist,” he said.
8. The former President said he was annoyed when his paintings were first revealed to the world by a hacker.
“It’s an invasion of one’s privacy. And yeah, I was annoyed.” Bush said.
9. The exhibit also contains a self-portrait and a rendition of his dad.
George W. Bush’s mother, Barbara Bush, however, said Friday that she will not allow her son to paint her.
“Absolutely not. Good as he is, it might look like me,” she said.