George W. Bush - former president, new grandfather, and canine portraitist - doesn't let the still-frequent criticisms of his presidency get him down.
"I'm comfortable with what I did," he said in a new interview with the Dallas Morning News. "I'm comfortable with who I am."
In responding to his own critics, President Barack Obama and his allies often cite inheriting an economy already in free-fall when he assumed office in 2009. But Republicans have also lambasted some of Bush's policies, including running up a deficit, chiefly from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bush said much of the criticism is based on inaccurate portrayals of his record, arguing that "when there's an objective analysis of our fiscal record, people will say, 'Well, that's different than I thought.'"
Outside factors like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina had a more overt impact on his time in the White House than for other presidents, Bush asserted, saying "much of my presidency was defined by things that you didn't necessarily want to have happen."
And the war in Iraq, now regarded as a mistake by many Americans, was supported by Democrats and Republicans at the time, Bush recalled.
"It's easy to forget what life was like when the decision was made," Bush said.
And what about those paintings, the products of a new retirement hobby? They include pictures of his late Scottish Terrier Barney Bush, and some puzzling self-portraits of Bush in the bathroom.
He takes "great delight in busting stereotypes," Bush told the Morning News.
"People are surprised," he added. "Of course, some people are surprised I can even read."