George W. Bush is publishing a book of his strangely beautiful paintings

Crown Publishing

George W. Bush is taking a new step in his painting career.

The former president is publishing a book of his paintings depicting various members of the military through Crown Publishing Group, New York Daily News reports.

“Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors,” out February 28, 2017, will feature 66 paintings as well as a four-panel mural showing veterans and active-duty military members.

Painting is a regular hobby for Bush and came to light after a hacker released images of several of his works in 2013, two of which were self-portraits showing Bush in a bathtub.

But leak aside, the art world’s response to Bush’s paintings was surprisingly enthusiastic.

“After spending more than a decade having almost physiological-chemical reactions anytime I saw him, getting the heebie-jeebies whenever he spoke … I really like the paintings of George W. Bush,” Jerry Saltz, the art critic for New York magazine, wrote of the early works.

Though they definitely look amateurish, those early paintings have a certain purity of form and even a slightly eerie vibe.

“They are ‘simple’ and ‘awkward,’ but in wonderful, unself-conscious, intense ways,” Saltz wrote.

A self-portrait by George W. Bush from the exhibit “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Diplomacy.”
AP Photo/Benny Snyder

Bush later went public with his paintings, even showing an exhibit of his portraits of world leaders.

If anything, it looks as though Bush has sharpened his technique a bit with the new military portraits, though they have the same soft curves and sense of stillness from his other work.

The former president is writing an introduction for the book, and he also wrote stories about each of the subjects, “some of them inspiring, some of them heartbreaking,” the publisher said, according to the Daily News.

“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,” Bush wrote in the introduction, an excerpt of which was released to The Associated Press.