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Laura Bush Says She Was 'Very Surprised' When Husband George W. Bush Started Painting

·2-min read

NBCUniversal Laura BUsh

Color her surprised!

Former First Lady Laura Bush told TV host Kelly Clarkson that she was "very surprised" to find out her husband, former President George W. Bush, was taking up painting as his post-presidential hobby.

"He's really gotten good," the former first lady, 74, told Clarkson, 39, about President Bush's artwork. "I'm shocked."

Mrs. Bush said the former president, 74, "was not interested in art at all" during his time at the White House, although she said the building did have a "major collection of American art."

"He never really looked at it," Mrs. Bush said. "So, I was very surprised when he took up painting, but he's gotten to be really good."

The former first lady appeared Tuesday afternoon on The Kelly Clarkson show to talk about the family's time in the White House and promote new exhibits at the George Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas — including her husband's artwork.

RELATED: George W. Bush Painted Portraits of His Wife and Daughters. It Didn't Go So Well.

Bush first tried his hand at painting in 2012 and took some early criticism from Laura and his twin daughters, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, on the way to releasing his recent book, Out of One, Many — a collection of 43 portraits depicting U.S. immigrants.

The former president told PEOPLE last month that his early painting of Mrs. Bush didn't go so well. "The Laura portrait was a bust. It was destroyed," he said.

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images George W. Bush

On Tuesday, Mrs. Bush explained that she decided to bite her tongue while her husband was learning his new craft.

Clarkson asked the former first lady if she encouraged her husband's work or "if it was just like the speeches and you just laid low?"

"I laid low," Mrs. Bush told Clarkson.

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Bush told PEOPLE last month that he's painted thousands of pieces in recent years — some of his family members, the family's pets, portions of their home and miscellaneous items like sliced cake, among other subjects.

But he takes the most pride in his work on immigrants, which along with being collected in his book, is displayed at the Bush Center.

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"Part of the purpose of the book is to elevate the discourse and remind our fellow citizens about the beauty of America that attracts people who are escaping tyranny or fleeing oppression or just want an opportunity for a better life," Bush said on Today last month.

"It's a beautiful country we have," the former president said. "And yet it's not beautiful when we condemn and call people names and scare people about immigration."

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