Art Wednesday: Thomas Kinkade

Cobblestone bridge

Artist: Thomas Kinkade
1958 - 2012
Painter of lights

Thomas Kinkade died last week at the age of 54.  I think everyone would recognise his artwork (he was a prolific painter with over 1000 works) as he art appears on so many things these days, from calendars to books, puzzles to biscuit tins to prints.  Now, please don't shot me, but he isn't my most favourite artist because he work is all very similar. It is pretty, cosy and feminine and whilst I like pretty and feminine, I like it in moderation and unfortunately Kinkade did it in bucket loads.  He certainly was a talented artist but I wish he had a little more variation in his works - it can be hard to distinguish one painting with another. Personally I prefer more boldness and movement in art and Kinkade is not a painter I would have on my walls for that very reason. But, art is personal, and what I don't like, others love . . . and that is fine. We all have different tastes, it is what makes the world go round.

A peaceful time
A key feature of Thomas Kinkade's paintings are their glowing highlights and pastel colours. His works often portray pleasant aspects of the countryside, idyllic settings such as gardens, streams, stone cottages, lighthouses and pretty main streets. His hometown of Placerville (where his works are omnipresent) is the inspiration of many of his street and snow scenes. Many critics have called his art "chocolate box art" - art without substances and criticised Kinkade for his commercial enthusiasm in selling prints.
I doubt Kinkade worried to much about the critics, his works sold like hotcakes and became a commercial success.  Kinkade was a Christian man and he said he gained his inspiration from his religious beliefs and that his work was intended to contain a larger moral dimension. He has also said that his goal as an artist was to touch people of all faiths, to bring peace and joy into their lives through the images he creates. Many pictures contain specific chapter-and-verse allusions to certain Bible passages. 
Every painting by Kinkade has the letter "N" painted in it, sometimes as a monogram, but sometimes just merely hidden. The "N" is a tribute to his wife, Nanette. Many paintings also include the names and images of his children.

This is one of my favorites, partly because it is darker and has more character than the others and I love purple and red together. Did you notice that if there is a chimney in a Kinkade painting, smoke is coming out of it!
San Francisco - quite like this urban scene
Kinkade did paint scenes other than cottages and some of these are really nice, in particular the three below (and the one above), they have far more life and character with vibrant colours - they are urban and contain people (unlike his country scenes).
The heart of San Francisco
Evening on the avenue - this one is really nice, its alive, perhaps that is what is lacking in the country scenes for me.

New York Firth Avenue-I like the sky/clouds in this one, has a moody effect

In 2009, he painted a portrait of the Indianapolis Speedway for the cover of the Indianapolis 500's race program. In the details of the faces, he included a likeness of Norman Rockwell and Dale Earnhardt.
Kinkade was asked to create paintings to commemorate Disneyland's 50th Anniversary and Walt Disney World Resort's 35th Anniversary - I think you can guess who this one is representing?

From news reports, it has been reported that Kinkade had been battling alcoholism for years and apparently suffered a relapse just prior to his unexpected death. It this was the case, it was a very sad end to such a famous painter. Sadly, he isn't the first painter to drink to much leading to an early death.

PS: He named his four daughters after famous artists: Merritt, Chandler, Winsor and Everett and each daughter had the middle name "Christian".

Hometown memories series: Hometown morning - the paintings I do like the most are the ones that contain people, such as this. However these aren't the ones you see the most.


  1. This was an enjoyable post...I agree with your opinion on his work, but I live right where there is a Kinkade studio on each corner of our city it seems has became over kill. I do love that his windows look like light is shining out. He was talented and we did enjoy seeing his work...and we have all been shocked by his loss.

    1. Thats the problem - a good thing is ruined by going overboard - something special gets reproduced so much it becomes common and I think this is what has happened to Thomas Kinkade's artwork. However Kinkade did this by choice to make money - making art commerical.

  2. I am sorry to hear about Kinkade's passing.

    I would also agree with you about his paintings. They are pretty, but very similar in nature. At least he did paint other things besides cottages (which I was unaware of).

    1. I really like those paintings that aren't seen very often, they are so full of detail and have far more life - I wish he had done more along that line.

      It is sad when someone talented dies, especially when his death appears to be unclear. A very sad end to a Christian man.

  3. I really like Thomas Kinkade's paintings. I went to one of his studios when we visited Tennessee, and they turned the lights down for us, and it was amazing how even in the very dim lighting, the lights in his paintings shone out. I think he had an immense talent for painting - and especially for his technique of painting lights. He is one of my favourite artists (the list is kinda long!!) simply because of the talent, the beauty, and the peacefulness found in his work.

    1. I knew that you liked him, so I hope you weren't offended when I said I only like him in moderation. Perhaps the trouble is that he has been reproduced so much that some of the
      "specialness" has been taken away.

      Did you know it is very difficult by an original Kinkade - almost all that is sold are prints (many are limited edition).

    2. Of course I wasn't offended!! How many paintings have you posted on here that I didn't like so much!!! ;) Hehe!

  4. His art was not all the same, however, he did several different series of art, and each series had many similar scenes, for example: a lighthouse series featuring all kinds of lighthouse scenes; a farm series with farms and horses and such; a home series showing cottages and Victorian houses; a street and city series, his snow series, and many other categories such as the sea or ocean series, as well as lakes, rivers, streams and cabin series. So while the paintings in each category would be similar, the categories were all different.

    1. LadyLydia - I agree with you that he different themes and those city and street scenes are my favourites - whilst other people tend to like his cottage and garden scenes. However his underlying style is very much the same (I would though say that some of his sea paintings are different) - but this isn't any different to many other artists, both current and past. Once a painter finds their area of expertise and passion they tend to stick with it and there are a number of Impressionist artists that most just that. Kinkade isn't the only artist I like in moderation so I wasn't selecting him out per se. I just prefer bolder art to this style (and I am not referring to modern abstract!).

      Art is such an individual thing, which is why I didn't want to offend anyone by say I only like Kinkade in moderation.

  5. I think most artists have a style and a color palette that helps us recognize their work. Even the old masters are recognizeable by their "sameness."

  6. such a wonderful arts :) i love the painting ;0

  7. I love your post; you have such a gentle spirit. I guess for people who's lives haven't been too shabby, Kinkade's work would be overkill, but if all you've seen is horror, sometimes you just need something without even a hint of darkness, you know? We already find it everywhere else in life. Thanks for sharing; you've really informed me about him. :) Bless you.


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