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How to paint like Thomas Kinkade: art secrets; the light in the window of the dream home

Updated on September 4, 2015

Thomas Kinkade's millionaire artist secret revealed: images of a worry-free world, and lots of Cadmium Yellow

Moments of genius, but a sad, fatherless millonaire artist alcoholic who did very silly things when drunk. But his works live on.
Moments of genius, but a sad, fatherless millonaire artist alcoholic who did very silly things when drunk. But his works live on.

Kincade's painters' secret

  1. use low hues; then
  2. Cadmium Yellow oil paint for light - straight from the tube;
  3. use a dark ground with highlights in windows and
  4. with the light-dark contrast at the focal point.

How to paint like Thomas Kincade

How to paint like Thomas Kincade: It's a form of sin-free religious fantasy. He started as a set painter for movies and used low hues and then Cadmium Yellow oil paint for light - straight from the tube; for example;

  1. from dark ground with highlights in windows; and
  2. with the light-dark contrast at the focal point.

Other techniques for luminosity: Underpaint with umber (bistre) or greys (griselle) to get the value, light and shadow. Local color was applied; highlights laid in last; Maxwell Parrish and Turner as examples.

Art critique: was it kisch or art? Or in a way the intimiste style style pioneered by French artists Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, who were known for their use of patterning and color; (but generally of indoor scenes).

More successful than Picasso: Kincade's formula landscape art appeared derived from religious art and scene painting, and its huge success - due to his choice of themes, mocked him to the end - as he wanted acceptance as a real artist, not a calendar and t-shirt illustrator. The 400 franchise shops which sold his art recorded $57 million in four years.

The Cadmium Yellow lights on in the window

When we come home we can see the lights in the distance; we know someone waits-up for us.
When we come home we can see the lights in the distance; we know someone waits-up for us.

Dreaming of home; a work by a millionaire painter

I guess we all dream of home; we live in the city but dream of a country cottage with a daily cleaner, a cute cat and an independent income. Maybe an old Aunt left us an income.
I guess we all dream of home; we live in the city but dream of a country cottage with a daily cleaner, a cute cat and an independent income. Maybe an old Aunt left us an income.

And see how Maxwell Parrish also piled on the Yellow

Maxwell Parrish was also a master of dream-like aspiration; a world with no worries.
Maxwell Parrish was also a master of dream-like aspiration; a world with no worries. | Source

Farewell to poor Thomas Kincade

Thomas Kinkade - a kind of modern Norman Rockwell - painted this dream cottage above. Kinkade born January 19, 1958 and raised by his mother - a single parent - died suddenly at his home in California this month.
Lacked personal charm when drunk: He died alcoholic and bankrupt, a sad man, separated from his wife and four children, despite the extreme success of his work. Reproductions of his painting sold for $600 to $12000 each from his franchise shops.
He did not die a good death - or even live a good life - like Australian artists, Margaret Olley or May Gibbs.

A Kincade franchise shop

Just before his death he was found to have treated the franchisees in some of his 350 shops in a bad way. The court ruled against him and it seems he could not pay the fine, and his company went into receivership.
Just before his death he was found to have treated the franchisees in some of his 350 shops in a bad way. The court ruled against him and it seems he could not pay the fine, and his company went into receivership. | Source

Community nearby, but not too close

We know everyone in the valley and they know us. They come by bringing a jar of marmalade, to borrow some flour. Its a land with pure water where no-one gets asthma from wood smoke.
We know everyone in the valley and they know us. They come by bringing a jar of marmalade, to borrow some flour. Its a land with pure water where no-one gets asthma from wood smoke.

Longing for a light in a window

Dreams of happiness: Kinkade's paintings of churches, lighthouses, cottages, and gardens appear in an estimated 1 of every 20 homes in America. And on T-shirts, plates, rugs and mass market bric a brac.

The backstory: “His mother was a single parent raising three children and struggled to make ends meet. Due to his mother's working long hours, Thomas Kinkade was used to coming home to a dark and cold home and often envied those homes with light "which is why Thom always paints cottages with the light on".
Thomas Kinkade first sold his prints outside his local supermarket at $25 each.

If not the sound of the sea then a pure, tinkling brook as clean and pure as God made it

And a verandah to sit on at night and play the banjo
And a verandah to sit on at night and play the banjo

Come in the gate is open

Welcome to my Edna Walling garden. Can you smell the jonquils! See how the bees murmer around the blossoms. Walk barefoot on the lawn while the dew is fresh. See the footprints.
Welcome to my Edna Walling garden. Can you smell the jonquils! See how the bees murmer around the blossoms. Walk barefoot on the lawn while the dew is fresh. See the footprints.

Farewell Thomas Kinkade. Hope you find your dream home in Heaven

"Sometimes art is born of inspiration and sometimes of destiny. In the case of my epic painting The Cross I felt both". T Kinkade.
"Sometimes art is born of inspiration and sometimes of destiny. In the case of my epic painting The Cross I felt both". T Kinkade. | Source

Kinkade's last work

His last painting - above - a huge mural for a Billy Graham centre, was reported to have his wife's name coded into it.
His paintings represented dreams of hope: His attempts at reconciliation failed, and he died fat, drunk and doped with valium. And probably very, very depressed. He was not a happy drunk and when drunk revealed a dark side. Who knows - he may have been saved with a big doses of Vitamin B complex. He needed help and did not get it.


I will just rest for a bit

Paintings as rugs and T-shirts

Dream home on a rug
Dream home on a rug

Tired of searching for dream home.

Sometimes we get weary. O so weary. Thom worked on the scale of Michaelangelo; The painting above was for the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, and 40 feet wide and almost 20 feet high.
Poor old Thom: The "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade, died of an overdose of alcohol and a valium. He was - alas - an alcoholic, burdened by a separation from his wife, financial troubles and the low opinion of his work by critics. And yet he must have signed away his rights as his paintings appear on t-shirts, plates, mugs and what not. Prints sell for nearly $1000 each on the home shopping network. So someone's making money. Kinkade must have lived high as he was reported to have earned $53 million for his artistic work in the period 1997 to May 2005.

Arrested for drunk driving in 2010, the same year his company filed for bankruptcy, he died, age 54 two years later – April 6, 2012 after a day of heavy drinking


350 shops paid $80,000 each to sell Kincade art

Then Kinkade's company, Media Arts Group Inc., was accused of unfair dealings with owners of Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery franchises. There were 350 independently owned Kinkade franchises at its peak. An initial cash investment of $80,000 to $150,000 was the cost. One franchisee sued for fraud and won. Kincade's company filed for bankuptcy.

Mark Keathley a Kinkade look-alike

Kinkade may have died but his dream homes live on. An artist with the same devotional sin-free world is Mark Keathley
Kinkade may have died but his dream homes live on. An artist with the same devotional sin-free world is Mark Keathley

A smaller scale life; lessons learned from the death of Kinkade

My dream home. A hut in the woods for me. A sober life, a frugal life; dreaming of the light in window
My dream home. A hut in the woods for me. A sober life, a frugal life; dreaming of the light in window

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    • profile image

      Audrey Griffin 

      2 years ago

      Thomas Kinkade was a great artist. This article was written in a patronizing and demeaning manor. All great artists had their personal struggles and weaknesses and many had far more problems than Kinkade. He was an idealist and a dreamer who painted such nostalgic beauty of home and hearth that one in twenty homes wanted the hope his paintings offered. His paintings brought images of love, joy, peace, happiness, family and friends. What a gift he had and his paintings of light and hope, home and family will live on. Thanks Thomas Kinkade

    • claudiafox profile imageAUTHOR

      claudiafox 

      5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I take it you like Mark Keathley and judge he's the real thing?

    • profile image

      Art collector 

      5 years ago

      Mark Keathley a Kinkade Look - a- like? Really? Anyone who paints a "light on" in a window isn't a kinkade look a like ... he didn't invent light. He just painted light. And while Mr Keathley's art is found in many Kinkade galleries ... and does "fit" with Kinkades subject matter, he is definitely not his mimic or protege'. Google image Mark Keathley and then google image Thomas Kinkade... nothing alike .... no comparison. Mark's buildings actually "fit" into his landscapes in natural ways. Nothing contrived. And what does "sin free world" mean? I'd rather thing they paint with a "glass half full" (positive outlook) view of life. Besides, I like beautiful things, and would rather not pay money to see sin - I can see that every day just looking around me.

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