In the introduction to George W. Bush’s book Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to American’s Warriors, his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, says that years ago she would have believed that her husband might have become president, but not that he would become an artist. “No way” is what she said. And so it goes. After Mr. Bush left the White House a scholar suggested that he take up painting, just like Winston Churchill did. When the President asked about learning to paint friends were surprised, but he went on to take classes from local Dallas artists and studied techniques and color. Other artists mentored him, including one who suggested he do portraits.
What came to mind was that he would paint portraits of veterans, the men and women who had served in the armed forces and become wounded. By painting close-up pictures of these warriors Bush hoped to give insight into their character and determination to recover. He also wanted to use his art as a way of recognizing the service that they gave to their nation. All the profits from the book will fund veteran programs.
A collection of expressive portraits, each is boldly painted with vibrant non-representational colors and a vivid style emphasizes the eyes. Each of 66 pictures is accompanied by a story, all written by Bush, about the individual warrior and includes biographical and service-related information and how each is recovering.
The paintings will likely surprise all sides of the political spectrum. Liberals and conservatives might wonder from what this free-spirited talent sprang, but all will be humbled by this generous tribute.