George W. Bush, painter of puppies and semi-nude bathroom self-portraits

"He started off painting dogs. I think he said he painted 50 dogs," says painting teacher Bonnie Flood of her student, George W. Bush.

"He pulled out this canvas and started painting dogs and I thought, 'Oh my God, I don't paint dogs!"

There's video. As you may recall, images of the former president's paintings also showed up in a series of hacked emails published last month by "Guccifer." Those images included "purported self-portraits of the 43rd president in the shower and the bath."

Washington Post Art and Architecture Critic Philip Kennicott critiques the work here. The hacked work, not to be confused with the work of a hack.


    1. Dude not funny. Just because he was a terrible president and the congress that was under his administration and this one drove us into the ground doens’t mean you should insult the man for his trying to do something else with his life.

      I kinda like some of the dog prints. The nudes not so much.

      1. You’re so right, I should only judge him by the standard of ex presidents.  Let’s see, what have former presidents been up to?  Building houses for the homeless and other philanthropic work, sitting on the boards of non-profits and think-tanks, doing diplomatic work… and doing paintings of puppies.  Funny how what the presidents did after their presidencies tells us so much about them…

        1. Look, the guy’s trying to better himself.  That’s something we should all get behind.  Granted, with Bush it’s a low bar…

      2. He’s got blood on his hands that’ll never wash off.  I’d say it’s okay to make fun of him about anything, anytime, forever.

          1.  Sounds like a tribal response – Obama has drastically increased the drone strikes since Bush left office and LBJ and Nixon with Vietnam and Laos.

            At least Bush never said he had the right to kill Americans without trial at his sole discretion.

            Please don’t consider this a defense of Bush. I think they’re all horrible people without ethics or morality. It’s a job requirement for President.

          2. Yeah, pretty sure it’s not the president’s responsibility to weave a web of lies in order to scare the nation into supporting the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation which had never attacked us.  You can parry my initial statement all you want, but Bush should be swinging from a gallows by now, not painting dogs.

      1. After I graduated in the same major and went out to find a job, I certainly felt that way.
        I’m still considering an MFA, because getting a loan is easier than getting paid enough to eat.

    2. And he’s about as primitif naïf an artist as he was a president…

      Give him another three generations and he might make someone I would let paint a fence.

      1. I am very very happy that Dubya is doing something creative that he enjoys.  It kills time – his own time.  Time he isn’t using to unintentionally kill companies he could run or soldiers he could lobby into war.

        If dude wants to paint his own junk, more power to him.  Every hour he stands naked and alone with a paintbrush in his hand is an hour he isn’t flexing his Merde-as touch on the rest of us.

    3. So being a painter makes you a moron?  (said the professional artist) Reeeally?  I don’t like the W administration any more than any other sane person- but your comment is ridiculous.  Check out the IQs of some of the masters in art.  You ignorant sop. 

      1. I actually have an MFA, so no, that’s not what I’m saying.  I’m saying that painting kitsch, emotionally empty, intellectually vapid non-art images of cute puppy dogs is about the intellectual level that Bush displayed while in office.

  1. Imagine an alternate universe where George was a successful baseball team owner who got satisfaction from dabbling in “art”, and I still had some measure of faith in the American electoral process.

    1. And John McCain and Sarah Palin were in office because everybody was tired of Al Gore?  NO THANKS.

      1. Mostly I can’t understand even pretending that Jeb might run in THIS reality; they did a great job keeping GWB out of the news during 2012, but how are they going to do that in 2016 if Jeb runs?

        1. You’re forgetting that political years are like dog years. By the time 2016 rolls around, the electorate’s mind will have once again been wiped clean of previous distractions, and filled up with sparkling brand new distractions. 

          Nowadays, aside from Koch and Rove inventions, we can count on the weather to provide at least 2-5 major events to politicize. And who can tell when fracking/glacial melting/the opening of the Northwest Passage will present us with 201x’s equivalent of the Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon?

          roast beaf: Look! Over there! Shiny!! Bad!
          allspeiss: NO. Good! Good! Good! 
          roast beaf: No! Bad! Badly Bad!
          allspeiss: Good! God’s Will!

    2. Imagine an alternate universe where a sax-playin’, junk-food-snarfin’, everyday dude named Bill hadn’t scored 8 years in the White House.

      W never wanted to be President – he got drafted for the role because the people who decide such things realized populists had become hot sellers, and they needed one too.

      5 will get you 10 W’s a much happier dude these days.

      1. I’m no Bush fan.  I’m liberal. Except for his dad declining in health right now, I’m sure GWB is super psyched not to have to be Prez anymore.  Jeb on the other hand… well, I can see him in his lair, rubbing his hands together, thinking about how he’s gonna take down Chris Christie.

      2. He’s definitely happier.

        Imagine that first day of terror when he entered the race.

        Just sitting there at his desk, losing money due to a complete lack of biz acumen, dreaming about playing ball rather than owning a chunk of team…

        …Suddenly, BAM, jack booted thugs kick the door in, toss flashbangs everywhere, BAM BAM BAM, he’s blinded, he chokes on the fumes, he is overcome…blackness.

        When he comes to, he’s on the floor, his pants around his ankles. A new pain but familiar, strange, not since college days… his hazing, yes, like that.

        And what else, he can barely breathe, a huge weight on his chest and neck… he dares to open his eyes!

        Darkness… darkness slowly pulls back revealing the gaping figure eight of black death that is the business end of a double barrelled shotgun, a hunting weapon, slowly drawing away from his eyes, and beyond those fearsome caves?

        A large, ugly man, surrounded by the jack booted thugs that had stormed his office. 

        The man smiles and says, “I see I have your attention. When I step down off your neck and chest I will hear you say the words Yes and Sir, in that order, or I’ll blow your head clean off, don’t care who your daddy is.” 

        Bush coughs, the man doesn’t move off his chest, off his neck. He continues “You’ll say yes and sir because you are being drafted son, you’re going to be the next leader of the free world. You’ve got all I really need, a pulse, a healthy fear of me, and name recognition”

        With that, Cheney steps off his chest and neck, pulls back two hammers and levels his weapon at Bush’s face again…

        … Bush says the only thing he thinks might keep him alive another few minutes.. “Yes Sir”

    1. I’d compare him more to Prince Charles. They’re probably both fairly nice people to meet and I can imagine sharing some similar interests – you just don’t want either of them to have any have real power. Their artwork seems to be more a hobby or a way to reflect than any serious attempt at recognition by critics. In that sense, it’s perfectly ok, just nothing to get excited about.

  2. “Cumming artist teaches George W. Bush how to paint”

    And this is a link you want me to click on?  Oh I see the word “Fox”. They would be able to find an artist who gets that excited about working with Bush…

  3. Well, they look a lot like dogs, and that’s what he was going for.  I couldn’t do any better.  Good for him, I say :)

    1. And just think of the political disasters that could have been averted. Hitler was Furiousaurus Rex because he was an illegitimate, angry, homeless ex-Corporal with gassed lungs, with no money and no connections to get him into art school.

      Dubya, on the other hand, could still be “refining his style” at any one of the world’s art academies. Come to think of it, he would have hit the art world at the height of 80s money-throwing. One less David Salle, one more Dub Bush. 

  4. Interesting. His eye for realism in his paintings is far greater than his eye for any realism where his political policies were concerned.

  5. Actually, they’re not half bad (also only half good), but here’s the part the bugs me… when and if they ever go on the market, they’ll sell for big bucks for no better reason than they were painted by a former POTUS.  Woo-hoo.

    1. I noticed that right off, but didn’t wanna make fun of him for it.  Nothing wrong with just pointing it out, though, I guess.  Because the crab in the background painting, a couple of vases on the shelf in his studio (?), and another painting (?) at the very bottom of the photo all kinda have that “swimming pool turquoise” hue to them.

      Maybe it’s just his favorite color…

  6. “Oh, I like this one… One dog goes one way, the other dog goes the other way, and this guy’s sayin’, “Whadda ya want from me?’ Guy’s got a nice head of white hair, it’s beautiful.”

    1. I was photography major in college and early on was running around with a borrowed 35mm taking pictures of everything that interested me, including a photo of my own legs and feet floating at the other end of a clawfoot bathtub, while the water ran… just like the governor… and I find that very disturbing, cuz I consider myself to be a human being, and him (his administration and policies) less so. 

      I’m reminded of Hannah Ahrendt writing of the banality of evil; how the most ordinary of people could committ the most egregious of atrocities against other people.  Hitler painted, of course, and he wasn’t half bad.

  7. He’s a bit like Rolf Harris, except instead of singing a song about two little boys who became soldiers, he sent thousands of them to their deaths in an ill-conceived and arguably illegal war.

    1. Which has irreparably damaged US foreign policy in the middle east, and the world, for who knows how many decades. 

      Utterly disastrous.

  8. Count me as one who loathed George Bush the president, yet, I find myself wanting to give the guy a chance in this pursuit.

    Being an artist might lead him to another level of awareness that he might not achieve otherwise.

    Life is weird that way and he might surprise us in his art journey.

    1. “I find myself wanting to give the guy a chance in this pursuit.”
      Me too.  Right after he finishes his sentence for war crimes.

      1. If he’s been on good behavior for a few years, there’s no reason he wouldn’t be able to paint in the pen.

        In fact, I bet the snazzy lawyers he can afford could probably convince the court to allow him to paint his days away as soon as he starts his sentence. A true artist would love the focus and clarity provided by the distraction-free setting of cushy solitary. And it’s not like he’d be short on commissary ducats.

  9. Signing with “43”?  Even when he paints cut little dogs his trademark dickishness shines through.

  10. Okay that’s it. Artists need to be kept away from the executive branch of government. 

  11. You take Thomas Kincade and replace the DNA with Cool Ranch Dorito dust — there you go. 

  12. I have a fever. And the only prescription is moar aquamarines.

    Also, I don’t know about you guys, but I only step out of the stream and into the corner of the shower like that for one of two activities. And the facing of the mirror? There’s either a second mirror or a second old guy out of frame. G-dubs, you sly irreverent.

  13. Something turns up that shows that George W. Bush has more dimensions as a human being than simply being an unpopular politician, and all anyone has to say about it is that it proves the common theory that he is dumb. He has started painting only late in life. My grandpa can’t play the ukulele like someone who started learning as a younger person, but I don’t mock him for it. I wish people would learn to see one another as human beings, rather than being unable to look past their political views, opinions, and differences.

    1. I wish people would learn to see one another as human beings, rather than being unable to look past their political views, opinions, and differences.

      People have political views; Presidents have war crimes.

      1. So becoming the president removes your status as a person? Is the same true of any other public figure or celebrity? These aren’t hypothetical questions – I’m interested in the reasoning behind this. I don’t want to argue about whether Bush or Tony Blair are war criminals. They probably are, but I prefer to have no opinion on that sort of thing, same with the Palestine/Israel issue.

        1. So becoming the president removes your status as a person?

          I have never given an order for someone (or many someones) to be killed. Yet. The last three Presidents are directly responsible for actions that have led to more than a million deaths.

          I prefer to have no opinion on that sort of thing, same with the Palestine/Israel issue.

          That’s called privilege. If you were living in Gaza or Iraq or Afghanistan or….. you wouldn’t have that luxury.

          1. That’s true, I’ll be sure to “check” it. Neutrality is definitely a luxury. As a side-note, when you say the last three, do you include Obama under “last” or do you mean Bush, Clinton and Bush?

            I’d just like to examine Bush as a person instead of as a president/war criminal/public figure for once. Despite his atrocities, Hitler has already been examined as a person and an artist extensively. Arguably, Bush probably wouldn’t be as interesting as Adolf, but it would be nice to paint a more complete portrait of the man.

          2. Actually, I was thinking Obama, Bush and Bush. Clinton’s eight years were remarkably conflict-free.

          3. Hitler has already been examined as a person and an artist extensively.

            And turned out to be considerably more notable for one than the other.

          4. This is where the banality of evil part comes in. Himmler had a love of art. All people are people. Some people are bigger assholes than other people. And some people are bigger assholes than others and in positions of great power.

            Why does this suddenly feel like a Smiths song?

    2. It’s true.  Maybe in 10 or 20 years, he’ll realize what a complete idiot he was while in office.

  14. I’d much prefer he was painting puppies and taking baths than out doing more of that warmongering he used to love so much.

    I like to futz about with art in some forms as well, and will never be good at it.  But on the other hand I have never decided to kill hundreds of thousands of people based on a convenient lie, so there is that difference.

  15. I like the nudes.  There is a psychological darkness I feel to them even if I didn’t know that they were painted by G.B. Beyond my estimation of him as a painter– as a president– my read on Bush  is probably informed by Oliver Stone: I feel he was a pawn of much stronger men.  

  16. It’s really a long journey to become a good artist. You have to learn the tools and materials first. Is a dog a very impressive subject? No, but it doesn’t matter what he paints at first, as long as it holds his interest while he learns.

  17. Hrhr… Hitler’s paintings were better. He still was a very unsuccessful painter though before becoming a politician :D

  18. His paintings are marginally better than Hitler’s sociopathic architectural renderings, but his misplaced sense of self importance, one must truthfully concede, has (so far) also been responsible for fewer deaths than that of the performance kitschmeister from Linz.  The photo of him in painter’s apron with the goofy look on his face reminds me of that hippy turned painter from the 70s who had the PBS show teaching kids how to paint “happy little trees.”  Bob somethingorother. (Or perhaps a Thomas Kinkade marketing photo.)

    If only W. had just stuck with painting dogs, and ruining baseball teams, rather than politics, is like pondering if Hitler had emigrated to America and wound up an illustrator for pulp magazines and comic books.

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