Bush's brush paints global leaders, features Manmohan Singh

Bush's brush paints global leaders, features Manmohan Singh

Bush's brush paints global leaders, features Manmohan Singh

George W. Bush has opened the first public exhibition of his works of over 24 portraits of world leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he met as president of the United States.

After graduating from dogs and cats and landscapes, Bush has produced a collection of never-before-seen portraits of foreign leaders he met as the 43rd President from 2001 to 2009 and put them on display at his presidential library in Dallas.

The exhibit is titled "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy" and also include photographs and artifacts of his interactions with these leaders.

67-year-old Bush picked up painting two years ago after the Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis suggested he read an essay by late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, 'Painting as a Pastime.'

After experimenting with an iPad sketch application, he began lessons with Gail Norfleet, a noted Dallas painter. He started by painting his pets, producing scores of works.

"I spent a lot of time on personal diplomacy and I befriended leaders," Bush says in a seven-minute video produced by the History Channel that greets visitors to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

"I learned about their families and their likes and dislikes, to the point where I felt comfortable painting them," he says.

The Bush Presidential Center is using these paintings to help broaden the image of Bush and is hoping to show "what it takes to be a personal diplomat," said Margaret Spellings, president of the center, emphasizing one-on-one relationships with his fellow heads of state were very important to him.

Apart from Prime Minister Singh, world leaders whose portraits painted by Bush include those of Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi, ex-Chinese president Jiang Zemin, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Prime Minister Singh had praised Bush during a visit to Washington in September 2008, saying, "The people of India deeply love you. And all that you have done to bring our two countries closer to each other is something history will remember for ever."

"In the last four and half years that I have been Prime Minister, I have been the recipient of your generosity, your affection, your friendship. It means a lot to me and to the people of India," he said.

"When the history is written, I think it will be recorded that President George W. Bush played a historic role in bringing our two democracies closer to each other," Singh had said while thanking the then US president for his role in ending India's nuclear apartheid.

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