Thomas Kinkade: January 19, 1958 – April 6, 2012
Thomas Kinkade was born an artist. He always knew being an artist was his destiny and so it was with this confidence that he decided to spend his very first significant art paycheck on creating his first lithograph with his painting of Dawson. Though at the time he was already an acclaimed illustrator, Thom found that he was inspired not by fame and fortune, but by the simple act of painting straight from the heart, putting on canvas the natural wonders and images that moved him most. It was this dedication and singular-minded focus on the ultimate goal of Sharing the Light™ that made Thomas Kinkade, a simple boy with a brush from the small country town of Placerville, California the most-collected living artist of his time.
Born William Thomas Kinkade on January 19, 1958, Kinkade was known as ‘the kid who draws’ around his hometown. At a young age, Thom apprenticed with notable artist and teacher, Glenn Wessels. A snippet of this relationship is featured in the movie Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage. He went on to travel with fellow college artist James Gurney, with whom he published a very successful book, An Artist’s Guide to Sketching. This success led the duo to a job with Ralph Bakshi Studios where they created background art for the animation film Fire and Ice. This commission earned him the funds to publish that first painting of Dawson, a gold mining town in Alaska.
Thomas Kinkade graduated from El Dorado High School in 1976, studied at the University of California, Berkley and later, the Pasadena Art Center College of Design.
Throughout his life Thomas Kinkade shared his joy and used his paints in support of hospitals, schools, and humanitarian relief. Though the recipient of countless awards and honors, it was Thom’s profound sense of purpose that his art was not just an accessory, but also a ministry, that continues on as his legacy. From custom images that were sold for The Salvation Army, Hurricane Katrina relief, Rotary International, to donations that now grace the halls of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the White House, The Vatican, and Britain’s Tate Museum, Thom raised millions of dollars over his lifetime for charity, including over two million dollars for 911 relief efforts.
Thomas Kinkade the artist was also a devout and loving family man. It was this devotion for his family that inspired him to add symbols of his love to his artwork. Numerous paintings contain hidden “N’s” representing Thom’s love for his wife Nanette and many other paintings include the numbers 5282 as tribute to their wedding date May 2, 1982. Thom’s four daughters were also included in his artistic process- after the birth of each of his daughters, Thom painted adoring images in each of their namesake; Evening at Merritt’s Cottage, Chandler’s Cottage, Winsor Manor and Everett’s Cottage.
While Thom was establishing his name and his work as a Romantic Realist, he continued to experiment in a variety of painting styles. In the early 1980’s he was drawn, in particular, to the French Impressionist style of painting with broad brush strokes, broken color and a softer palette. To give himself the freedom to create without judgment, he painted under the brush name of Robert Girrard. For a period of six years, He created 69 paintings under Robert Girrard. It has been said that it was not unusual for Thom to paint under a variety of brush names. This prolific artist was even more prolific than we had realized.
Thomas Kinkade, the Painter of Light™, emphasized simple pleasures and inspirational messages through his art – and the branded products created from that art. From textiles, to collectibles, to music and books, Thom gave credit to a higher power for both the ability and the inspiration to create his paintings. His goal as an artist, who was Christian, was to touch people of all faiths, to bring peace and joy into their lives through the images he had created.
Thom’s dearest wish had always been that his artwork would be a messenger of hope and inspiration to others – a message to slow down, appreciate the little details in life, and to look for beauty in the world around us. As millions of collectors around the world sit back and enjoy his artwork in their homes, there is no doubt that Thomas Kinkade had indeed achieved his goal of Sharing the Light™.
In 2015, the Thomas Kinkade Company continues to flourish under new ownership, Art Brand Studios, with the plan to continue Thom’s legacy through new releases of unpublished paintings, new releases by studio artists utilizing Thom’s techniques and through the works of Thom’s nephew Zachary Thomas Kinkade whose talents may very well rival those of his renowned uncle.
Enjoy these videos about Thomas Kinkade:
Below, enjoy a few images showing Thomas Kinkade with Zionsville collectors and with owner, Barbara Jennings.