George W. Bush Is Painting Animal Skulls: 4 Public Figures Who Dabbled In Weird Artwork

Life in the public eye can be a rough ride, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that some high-profile figures pick up calming hobbies. Like, say, painting. These days, you can find George W. Bush painting animal skulls, according to his wife Laura. Since Bush's heart surgery last August, Laura explained to New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd, he's been "spending a lot of time painting skulls. Animal skulls."

Odd as that may be, Bush is far from the only public figure who finds solace in making art. Well, perhaps "art" is too strong a word in some of these cases...

George W. Bush: Baths, Dogs, and Animal Skulls

Our 43rd president has, in his retirement, taken up the brush and color, following a tumultuous (to say the least) two terms. The dismal caliber of the Bush years should be noted in regard to his artwork, since it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out whether animal skulls are optimistic.

Still, there's a definite limit to how much anyone can glean about Bush's retrospective view of, say, the Iraq War from pictures of dogs, landscapes, himself bathing, and now, apparently, animal skulls. Is former President Bush satisfied? Guilty? Reflective, tortured, or delighted by his legacy and his lasting mark on the world stage?

Well, maybe there's something to the skulls.

George Zimmerman: The Patriotic Plagiarist

It's no secret that acquitted murderer and now-boxer George Zimmerman enjoys a bit of attention. There was his bizarre decision to be photographed grinning while shopping for a new shotgun; his now-cancelled bid to fight rapper DMX in a celebrity boxing match; and allegations from his girlfriend that he sunk into a deep depression in the absence of the media swarm he'd become accustomed to.

Months ago, Zimmerman sold a terrible painting to a (probably not great) person, via eBay, for just over $100,000 — a nice little bonus for a guy whose earning power has been greatly enhanced by his grisly past. We're not art experts, so why do we say it was a terrible painting? Well, because Zimmerman stole it from a stock photo.

Come January, Zimmerman was at it again, this time with a painting critical of Florida State prosecutor Angela Corey. Unfortunately, it was clearly copied from an AP photograph of Corey's press conference announcing murder charges against Zimmerman.

Zimmerman recently called the painting of his former adversary a "release" — the AP, on the other hand, called it fraudulent and has sent out a cease-and-desist letter.

Lucy Liu: The Many-Sided Artist

You may not know this, but beyond her film and TV career, Lucy Liu has been a practicing visual artist for years. Her work has been featured in galleries, and used to benefit a most worthy cause — she's donated proceeds from at least two art shows to UNICEF.

Liu's work was on display last year at a gallery in England, with pieces set at anywhere from the equivalent of $13,000 to about $26,000. They were, in her view, focused on "the fragility of the human form."

Unlike the aforementioned men, both of them not traditionally trained artists — unless, in Zimmerman's case, you consider being a terrible human being an art — Liu takes her work abundantly seriously, and studied at the New York Studio School from 2004 through 2006.

Scott Gries/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Sylvester Stallone: A Bruiser Goes Abstract

Yep, you read right. Even creaky old Sly Stallone has leapt into the world of painting. Last year, the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg exhibited a retrospective of Stallone's artwork, claiming to represent the once-iconic action star's output from 1975 until now.

The exhibit contained more than 30 paintings, as well as photos of Stallone shot by his old friend Andy Warhol. Painting was truly Stallone's first love, according to the exhibit's description, one he was forced to eschew for financial reasons to, um, become an actor.

The exhibit's presence in Russia wasn't without controversy, and we're not just speaking about the dubious reviews that popped up. It sparked open protests and denouncements, due to Stallone's performances in multiple films considered anti-communist, the Rambo series and Rocky IV in particular. The Communist Party of Leningrad released this statement:

For those who were born and raised in the Soviet Union, Rambo/Stallone will always be an embodiment of Cold War and the US military machine, someone who kills countless Soviet soldiers and our Vietnamese comrades, a maniacal fighter against the so-called 'red threat'.