News of Bush’s new life as a painter shocked everyone when it was first revealed in 2013. These weren’t just the watercolor lighthouses and beachscapes you expect of most retirees. These included, surprisingly, nude self-portraits.
Thankfully, these early works will not be included in Bush’s new book of oil paintings, "Portraits of Courage." Instead, the book will feature depictions of US military veterans.
"This is a book about the men and women who have been tremendous national assets in the Armed Forces – and who continue to be vital to the future success of our country," reads the introduction, written by Bush.
"The greatest honor of the presidency was looking them in the eye and saluting them as their Commander in Chief. And I intend to support and salute them for the rest of my life."
The book will be released on February 28, 2017, in two editions. A hardback version will retail for $35, and a deluxe autographed volume will be available for $250.
That cost won’t just buy you Bush’s art. Each painting is accompanied by a story of the individual depicted. The prose will be written in the "inimitable voice" of America’s 43rd president.
"As the stories unfold – some of them inspiring, some of them heartbreaking – readers will encounter the faces and the hearts of those who answered the nation’s call and learn from their bravery on the battlefield, their journeys to recovery, and the continued leadership and contributions they are making as civilians," reads a statement from the publisher.
Net author proceeds will be donated to the Military Service Initiative operated by the Bush Presidential Library.
When the nude self-portraits first surfaced, many wondered if they revealed a kind of regret, part of Bush’s attempt to honestly reflect on the mistakes of his presidency and the millions of lives destroyed — and war crimes perpetrated — following his administration’s invasion of Iraq.
Painting portraits of soldiers may be part of a similar, though far less subtle, period of reflection.