Sam Roggeveen's post raises an interesting question as to whether George W Bush would have been more inquisitive (and hence made better decisions) if he had taken up painting before his presidency. The argument being that the painter's need to determine perspective is a good grounding for looking at complex geopolitical issues.

There have been other instances of ex-amateur painters turned politicians, and I'm afraid the results are somewhat mixed. Mindful of Sam's warning to me about Godwin's Law, it would be remiss of anyone venturing into this territory not to mention the fact that the strongest argument of all against the idea of 'painting as catharsis' is that Adolf Hitler was an extremely keen painter, something that appeared to do little to knock the ideological rough edges off him.
 
On the other hand, we may have painting to thank for the abilities of one of the West's most effective wartime leaders, Sir Winston Churchill, who credited it with rescuing him from depression following the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, during which he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Another Republican, and one of America's best regarded presidents, Dwight Eisenhower, also had a crack at painting, although he did so while he was already in the White House.

Apart from these examples, my (admittedly less than exhaustive) search has revealed few politicians who took a shine to fine art as opposed to the black art of politics.

Photo by Flickr user 3rd foundation.