George W Bush unveils his portraits of world leaders

. Credit: NBC / Today

Former US president George W Bush has unveiled a series of his own paintings of world leaders he met while in office.

Portraits of Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, Hamid Karzai and the Dalai Lama featured in a special segment on NBC's Today Show presented by his daughter Jenna.

The ex-president said he had been inspired to take up painting by Winston Churchill's post-politics activities and was showing off his latest works to encourage visitors to his Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

Tony Blair

"I hope he likes it," said Mr Bush. "I like it because it conveys a compassionate person and a strong person and a reliable friend."

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin is president of Russia. Credit: NBC / Today

"I met with him a lot during the presidency. I got to know him very well," he said.

"We had a good relationship throughout. It became more tense tense as time went on.

"Vladimir is a person who in many ways views the US as an enemy, although he wouldn't say that."

He also repeated an anecdote about how Putin mocked Barney, the Bush family dog.

Putin told president Bush that his own hound was "bigger, faster and stronger than Barney."

George Bush Snr

George H W Bush was US president between 1989 and 1993. Credit: NBC / Today

"I like the painting I did of dad. It was a joyful experience to paint him. I painted a gentle soul.

"I tried to convey a sense of strength and kindness.

"I didn't dare show it to him because mother would see it. There's no telling what she would say."

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is the Tibetan spiritual leader. Credit: NBC / Today

Silvio Berlusconi

Media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi served as prime minister of Italy three times between 1994 and 2011. Credit: AP

Hamid Karzai

Hamid Karzai became president of Afghanistan during George Bush's presidency. Credit: NBC / Today

Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame is the president of Rwanda. Credit: NBC / Today

Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert was Israeli prime minister between 2006 and 2009. Credit: NBC / Today

Video report by ITV News Washington correspondent Robert Moore: