"It's a way to create," Bush told the Dallas Morning News. "I enjoy creating. ... You can express yourself in a way that's unique."
And, he said in the interview published Sunday, his taking up the creative hobby has surprised people, noting he delights in "busting stereotypes."
"Of course, some people are surprised I can even read," he said.
Bush did some "doodles to communicate with our girls" that his wife, Laura, showed to Dallas artist and friend Pamela Nelson, who thought the former president might have a flair, the News said.
While thinking Nelson was joking, Bush said he read "Painting as a Pastime," by another famous amateur painter, Winston Churchill. Then he decided to give it a try.
Bush worked with Gail Norfleet, a Dallas artist and SMU graduate.
He now paints almost daily and still takes lessons from Norfleet about once a week. He paints lots of pets, but also landscapes and still lifes, the newspaper said.
The former president said his hobby is about having a fun and interesting challenge. But he was reluctant to talk about his talent, saying so far "the signature is more valuable than the painting."
"43," signifying his elected place among U.S. presidents.