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Painter: Trump is ‘a challenge to paint’ but ‘he liked what I had done’

The artist who painted “The Republican Club,” now hanging in the White House, said President Donald Trump called him a couple of weeks ago and told him “he liked what I had done.”

“I actually had gotten a call a couple of weeks ago from President Trump and that was a real highlight,” Missouri artist Andy Thomas told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin Monday on “Newsroom.” He said Vice President Mike Pence and California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa were also on the line. “That was quite a treat.”

The painting depicts Trump and other Republican presidents from years past laughing around a table of drinks. It was spotted in an image tweeted by CBS’ “60 Minutes” before their report Sunday featuring an interview of the President by reporter Lesley Stahl.

“I didn’t think he was going to call, but (Trump) said that he’d seen a lot of paintings of (himself) and most of them he didn’t like, but that he liked what I had done,” Thomas told Baldwin. “He was very gracious and kind.”

Thomas explained Trump was a “challenge to paint,” because “even though he tans, he’s a fair — has a fair complexion and no deep recesses.” Thomas said Trump is a “very subtle person to paint,” and said the President has “different looks and different profiles.”

He painted Trump’s face twice — the first one he was “happy with” but said “it wasn’t the smile we usually see, so I found a bunch of photographs with this particular smile and I thought it seemed more appropriate.”

“All I know is he said he liked what I’d done and that made me feel great,” Thomas told CNN. “He just was effusive really, just as kind as he could be.”

“I’m not registered in any way,” Thomas told CNN, when asked about his political affiliation. “If I have some political leanings, I hope it doesn’t show in my paintings.”

Thomas has also painted “The Democratic Club,” with past Democratic presidents. In both paintings, there is a woman in the background appearing to walk towards the table of men.

“That would be, in this case, the first female Republican president walking over to take her place at the table,” Thomas said. “And same way with the Democratic painting.”

“I’ve heard people call it a feminist message,” Thomas said. “I’m far from — I would be a big disappointment to feminists everywhere.”

“But it’s something that’s gonna happen, you know, it doesn’t need to be advocated or anything — we’re gonna have a woman, you know, 50% of our presidents will be women probably from this time on,” Thomas said.

Thomas said he “didn’t want to have it all men, just because it begins to look like a good old boys club. I knew I wanted to put women in there.”

“I thought ‘Wow, that would be pretty intimidating to walk up to that table of powerful people,'” Thomas said, “but then I thought: my daughter would walk right up there.”

Thomas said he always tries to make presidents “look as nice as I can.”

The Missouri painter said he didn’t know if they were going to hang the painting until Sunday night.