"It's hard to paint your wife," George W. Bush once admitted to daughter Jenna Bush Hager
The former first lady tells PEOPLE that the 43rd president, who has forged something of an art career since leaving the White House in 2009, has made just one “attempt” at painting a portrait of his wife. But unfortunately, “I didn’t think it was that good,” Laura said with a laugh.
The couple’s daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, offered a kinder critique.
“She didn’t think it was good but I thought it was really beautiful,” Jenna said, adding that painting Laura’s portrait taught her father a valuable lesson: “He said ‘It’s hard to paint your wife.’ ”
“It is hard,” the 34-year-old former first daughter continued. “Because she thought, ‘Does my hair really look like that? Are my cheekbones really like that?’ instead of judging the art as art.”
Jenna said her dad also painted a portrait of her 3-year-old daughter, Mila, when she was a newborn. “My mom liked it, but I thought [Mila] looked like a wrinkled old man,” Jenna said.
“See? It just depends on who the subject is, what the subject thinks about the painting,” Laura said.
“And she did sort of look like a wrinkled old man, but you thought it was good,” Jenna said.
“It was pretty good,” Laura allowed. “Not great.”
The mother and daughter later showed PEOPLE a portrait George painted of Mila and her father, Henry Hager, that now hangs over the crib in Mila’s bedroom. The former first lady said she thought the painting was “really beautiful.”
So where’s George’s portrait of his wife?
“In the closet,” Laura said with a laugh.