Thomas Kinkade-The Painter of Light

Thomas Kinkade passed away April 6, 2012 at the age of 54.

It's difficult to remember just how long ago it was, but it's been a number of years ago now, that I stumbled upon an art gallery in Salado, Texas. It was a Thomas Kinkade gallery.

At the time, I had never heard of Thomas Kinkade. I found the shop to be cheery and quaint and the staff very friendly. The paintings were beautiful and the details pointed out to us by the staff made them even more special.  It was an impression that would stay with me for years to come.

Over the years, I've come to appreciate that brief introduction to Thomas Kinkade's work even more as he has become more and more popular. 

Obviously, by now, there probably isn't a person in American that has heard of, or at least seen artwork by, Thomas Kinkade.   I thought it would be fun to learn a little bit more about the man behind the beautiful paintings.

Thomas Kinkade Quick Facts

  • Born January 19, 1958 in Sacramento, California and grew up in Placerville, California
  • American painter known as "The Painter of Light" because of the glowing highlights featured in his paintings
  • All four of his children are named after famous painters and all have "Christian" as their middle name
  • 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.
  • 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's paintings and prints are sold by mail order and select dedicated retail outlets. Some prints have been touched up to mimic the 3d features of his actual paintings.
  • Licensing with Hallmark and others enables him to market calendars, puzzles, cards, etc. with prints of his artwork on them.
  • He has authored or been the subject of over 120 books
  • It is reported that he earned $53 million from 1997-2005
  • Kinkade was asked to create paintings to commemorate Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, Walt Disney World Resort's 35th Anniversary, Elvis Presley's purchase of Graceland 50 years ago and the 25th anniversary of its opening to the public, the 50thDaytona 500, and Yankee Stadium's farewell 85th season in 2008. Kinkade also paid tribute to Fenway Park.
  • He created two charity prints for the Salvation Army. One is called "The Season of Giving" and the other is "The Light of Freedom". The proceeds (more than $2 million) were donated to the Salvation Army for their relief efforts at Ground Zero and to aid the victims of 9/11.
  • He has been the National Spokesman for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and he raised over $750,000 and granted 12 wishes for children with terminal medical conditions.
  • There have been allegations of strange conduct, some that he's denied and some that he's apologized for. If you'd like to read about it, check it out at Wikipedia under "Personal Conduct".
  • Some of his many awards include multiple National Association of Limited Edition Dealers awards for Artist of the Year and Graphic Artist of the Year, and his art has been named Lithograph of the Year nine times. He was inducted into the California Tourism Hall of Fame. He was selected to commemorate the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games and the 2002 World Series. He was also honored with the 2002 World Children's Center Humanitarian Award.

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Comments 22 comments

Scott.Life 6 years ago

Here in Pigeon Forge, TN, where I live there is a gallery dedicated to this wonderful artist and another in Knoxville twenty miles away. You can't go anywhere around here without seeing his paintings. I have studied many of his works in order to understand the techniques he uses to exhibit light and shadow, What a great and informative hub about this great American painter.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks, Scott! I have a Thomas Kinkade calendar at work that was the inspiration for this hub. I just flipped over to October and it has the most beautiful autumn scene of a dirt road going into trees covered in autumn leaves with the light shining through the trees in spots. Absolutely gorgeous.


Candie V profile image

Candie V 6 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

I have a series of his collector plates. I love looking for the "N" in each piece he does. The one picture I have is the blue winter scene.. the only one he did with Norman Rockwell in the bottom left. He derived much of his love of art, and influence of painting from Mr. Rockwell. Fantastic hub!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks Candie! When I was researching some data for this hub I ran across something where someone pointed out that he rarely includes people in his paintings and you know, I hadn't even noticed that until I read that. Whereas, to me, that was what I remember most about Norman Rockwell. But, you're right, he does credit Norman Rockwell with being an influence.


Victoire profile image

Victoire 6 years ago from Paris, France

So interesting to see the man, when one knows his painting...


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

I agree, Victoire. He's a younger man than I pictured him to be.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Good hub, KCC! I'm so glad I'm a fan of yours. I get to read all your good pieces.

I wanted to buy a Thomas Kinkade at an auction once, but it was out of my price range. He's a good artist.

I like the way you lay out this info, getting all the pertinent details in a row.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks, Paradise! I'm a big fan of what I call "quick facts" where I just throw out the high points. I tend to think internet readers don't want a lot of fluff. They want to "get in and get out" so that they can go on to the next thing.


Nelle Hoxie 6 years ago

Thank you for the quick bio. Since the first time I saw his work, I've always wanted to live in one of his light-filled cottages. They seem so peaceful and perfect.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

I agree Nelle! They look so comfy and inviting.


magdielqr profile image

magdielqr 6 years ago

The one picture I have is the blue winter scene. Very good review.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks magdielqr!


Michael Willis profile image

Michael Willis 6 years ago from Arkansas

I love the work of Thomas Kinkade. His paintings are so inspiring.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

I agree, Michael. Thanks for stopping by.


Am I dead, yet? 6 years ago

Thomas Kinkade's artwork, especially those of cottages and landscapes--sigh- I just get so lost--wishing life was a peaceful village like the ones in his paintings. Wonderful hub =]


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

I agree, AIDY! Thanks!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

This is my favorite living artist. I love his paintings. I couldn't enjoy them more than I do. Thank you for a fine article.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

You're very welcome James! Thanks for stopping by!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

I discovered Kinkade in a gallery in a mall in Kansas City, and again in a mall gallery in Las Vegas. At first I thought his style was too gimmicky, but I grew to appreciate it and now I really like his style. Books or calendars with his artwork remains a solid holiday gift for my mother, also. I will go check out his "odd behavior", that sounds quite intriguing.

Thanks for sharing the information about this popular painter.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks for stopping by Mike. I like some of his stuff more than others, but it's hard to go wrong with a Kinkade calendar.


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

Eye opening and informative. I looked up with info you suggested on Wiki. I guess it's somewhat true that a lot of very talented people have concurrent eccentricities.


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thank you Silver Poet....I guess we all do really, but theirs is much more publicized. :)

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