Former President George W. Bush offered a glimpse at his artistic ability during a Tuesday appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” presenting Jay Leno with a portrait he painted of the late-night host.

The ex-commander in chief, in his first sit-down on the show in three years, told Leno he took up mastering his brushstrokes with weekly art lessons after being inspired by the Winston Churchill essay, “Painting is a Pastime.”


Bush says he told an art instructor, “I’m thinking about painting. She said, ‘What’s your objective?’ I said, ‘There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body — your job is to find it.’ ”

Saying he takes painting seriously and that it’s changed his life, Bush unveiled a colorful piece of art baring Leno’s image.

“I can’t make fun of him now!” Leno cracked.

Bush, 67, agreed with Leno’s assessment that he’s much more relaxed since leaving office in 2009, chuckling, “No kidding. Duh!”

“Eight years is plenty,” he said. “Laura and I love living in Texas … I really don’t miss the spotlight. It’s hard for some to believe.”

Bush praised his dad, former President George H.W. Bush, who at 89, has had some health scares in recent years. Calling him an “awesome guy” and a “joyful man,” Bush said, “He gave the greatest gift a father can give a child, which is unconditional love.”

The 43rd president, who underwent a stent procedure earlier this year, told Leno he wasn’t worried about his own health issues. After Laura Bush called the surgery “very scary,” Bush said with a smile, “I wasn’t that scared.”

“Was it you had ObamaCare?” Leno quipped to big laughs from the former first family.