Heroes

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When I first learned of President George W Bush’s hobby of painting portraits I was amazed. This was not what I expected from him. I guess not too many people did. I wanted to see his work, and to decide for myself whether he was an artist or not. I have seen his work and have decided he is an artist.

In his book Portraits of Courage, A Commander In Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors ninety-eight US Military personnel are depicted. Bush has written a short bio based on the warrior’s injuries and the path to recovery. There is a distinct similarity among all of them. They all lost limbs, suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury, and Post Traumatic Stress. Yet, each of them is distinctly different looking just like they are in life. President Bush captures not only the faces but also the look of the soldier. As an artist he is fully aware of the fact that no human being has a symmetrical face, and it is the asymmetry that defines all of us. He has captured the gaze of the eyes and more deeply into the soul of the subject.

A few years ago, while researching President Bush’s portraits of world leaders on the internet I read a series of comments regarding his work. I remember one in particular where the commenter sarcastically criticized Bush’s ability to paint by stating his amateur work was the opposite of an accomplished and seasoned portrait artist. I wished an evil act to befall the critic. His dislike for Bush as President showed.

All my life I have been a closet artist, and I can attest that drawing and painting faces is not easy. Capturing the lines, shades, values of a person’s uniquely distinctive facial features takes a ton of practice, and patience. Hell, I couldn’t even draw my own portrait to resemble me. I give George Bush five stars for his ability, and desire to do something radically different from what he did all his life, and to succeed in making people look like people in his work.

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