The Inside Story of George W. Bush's Never-Seen Painting of His Wife Laura: 'I Changed It Four Times!'

Former President George W. Bush tells PEOPLE he's also painted a photo of his mother, Barbara Bush

Former President George W. Bush‘s wife has served as the subject of one of his famous paintings – a piece that’s never been seen for a reason: “It’s in the closet.”

The former president and his wife, Laura Bush, tell PEOPLE in this week’s issue that his portrait of her wasn’t much of a hit. “After I changed it four different times – I don’t like this expression or that expression – I finally said I’m through,” the 70-year-old says.

The former first lady wasn’t a fan, either, revealing that the painting was never hung up. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate her husband’s post-presidency pastime.

“I have lots of favorite paintings,” she says of her husband’s work. Bush’s paintings are featured in the just-published Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, a collection of work by the former president honoring the military men and women who have served the country since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.

Continues Mrs. Bush, 70, “I have some here downstairs that I’ve hung downstairs, some of the water lilies, and then of course I love the pet portraits of our pets. Always, as a new subject and a new time, I like those as well. I’m not afraid to tell him if I think he should do something else.”

For much more of our interview with Laura and George W. Bush, including exclusive at-home photos, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.


She isn’t the first member of the Bush family to get the portrait treatment: The former president’s mother, Barbara Bush, is also a subject of one of her son’s paintings.

RELATED VIDEO: Click HERE to watch People Features: George W. Bush, Portraits of Courage

“I painted her walking her dogs from the back,” he reveals, with Mrs. Bush noting that it’s set at the beach and now hanging in former President George H.W. Bush and the former first lady’s Maine home. “It’s a sweet painting. You can’t screw up a face when you paint her from the back.”

Adds Mrs. Bush, “I think she really likes it.”

The former president also shared the way his wife sweetly supports his hobby.

“Anytime I produce a painting she tries to take them from me and she proudly shows them off,” the former president tells PEOPLE. “She’s a strong supporter.”

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