SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
More than two dozen portraits go on exhibit in Dallas today. They're painted by George W. Bush, the former president. And early reviews have been more than respectful. He paints Tony Blair as determined. Canada's Stephen Harper looks like a guy to share a can of Moose Ale with. Vladimir Putin seems a little irritated. The Dalai Lama looks serene. Mr. Bush began to paint just a couple of years ago after it was suggested he read Winston Churchill's 1921 essay "Painting as a Pastime" written after Mr. Churchill had been driven out of the British cabinet. I had great anxiety and no means of relieving it, Churchill wrote. And it was then that the muse of painting came to my rescue out of charity and out of chivalry, and said, are these toys any good to you?
They amuse some people. Just to paint is great fun, he went on. The colors are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out. Matching them however crudely with what you see is fascinating and absolutely absorbing. One is quite astonished to find how many things there are in the landscape and in every object in it. One never noticed before so many colors on the hillside, each different in shadow and in sunlight, such brilliant reflections in the pool, each a key lower than what they repeat, such lovely lights gilding or silvering surface or outline, all tinted exquisitely with pale color - rose, orange, green or violet. And I had lived for over 40 years without ever noticing any of them. As one might look at a crowd and say, what a lot of people. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.