The Artist Who Taught George W. Bush to Paint

President Bush painting. Photo by Grant Miller

The lives of ex-Presidents are as varied as the men who held the office. When President Bush left office I assumed he would settle down in his beloved ranch, write his memoirs, and become a quiet political power broker. It never occurred to me that George W. Bush would turn his considerable energies towards making art. But he has pursued this difficult craft in a measured and thorough manner. Here’s how he did it.

One day in early 2012, Dallas-based artist Gail Norfleet got an unexpected phone call from her friend, fellow artist Pamela Nelson. “She said ‘Gail, I have a student for you!’” Norfleet remembers.

George W. Bush, Sergeant Leslie Zimmerman, U.S. Army, 2001-2004. Courtesy of President George W. Bush.

Norfleet had been teaching on and off for years, ever since earning her MFA from Southern Methodist University in 1972. Usually these were courses at a local community college or, occasionally, private classes for small groups. But these would need to be one-on-one lessons, Nelson explained, because this was no ordinary student. Former president George W. Bush wanted to learn how to paint.

“I was speechless,” Norfleet says.

Nelson, a close friend of both Bush and his wife, made the introduction. Norfleet soon met the Bushes in person at their Dallas home, kicking off her two-year stint as an art teacher for the former political leader. The pair met for three hours each Monday, in a home office that had been transformed into a studio. “Laura Bush called it a man cave,” Norfleet says with a laugh.

Read the full story at Artsy

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One Comment

  1. kishke
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Sgt. Zimmerman’s face actually reminds me very strongly of Dubya’s.
    Filter out the red hair, see what you think.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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