George W. Bush is taking a new step in his painting career.
The former president is publishing a book of paintings depicting various members of the military through Crown Publishing Group, the New York Daily News reports.
“Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors,” out Feburary 28, 2017, will feature 66 paintings as well as a four-panel mural showing veterans and active-duty military members.
Painting is a regular hobby for Bush, which came to light after a hacker released images of several of his works in 2013, two of which were self-portraits showing Bush in a bathtub.
But the art-world response to Bush’s painting was surprisingly enthusiastic.
“After spending more than a decade having almost physiological-chemical reactions anytime I saw him, getting the heebie-jeebies whenever he spoke… I really like the paintings of George W. Bush,” Jerry Saltz, the art critic for New York magazine, wrote of the early works.
Though they definitely look amateurish, they have a certain purity of form and even a slightly eerie vibe.
“They are ‘simple’ and ‘awkward,’ but in wonderful, unself-conscious, intense ways,” Saltz wrote at the time.
Bush went public with his paintings, even having an exhibition of portraits of world leaders.
If anything it looks like Bush had sharpened his technique a bit with the new military portraits, though they have the same soft curves and sense of stillness from his other work.
The former president is writing an introduction for the book, and he also wrote stories about each of the subjects, “some of them inspiring, some of them heartbreaking,” Crown said, according to the Daily News.
“This is a book about the men and women who have been tremendous national assets in the Armed Forces — and who continue to be vital to the future success of our country,” Bush writes in the introduction to the new book, an excerpt of which was released to Associated Press.
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