As many of you may know, Thomas Kinkade, the self-proclaimed “Painter Of Light” passed away a way a couple of years ago and the art blogosphere kicked into high gear. I didn’t read even one post that had much of anything positive to say about the man. In some cases the vitriol was more acidic than the words spewed after the death of Kim Jung-Il, the dictator of North Korea. And that’s saying something.
Thomas was a very good artist. Make no mistake about it. He could never have created the works that he did without knowing the craft of painting. His plein air work is just as good as most that I have seen anywhere.
I think that if Kevin McPherson or Scott Christensen had painted either of these works, people would be lining up to pay top dollar for them. But, because Thomas painted them, most “artists” have nothing good to say about them. I would be thrilled to be able to paint either one of these paintings above.
Did he bastardize the world of art with his “limited” production runs of quaint homes with bright lights shining in the windows? To some extent I would say, yes. I don’t like giclees or off-set prints or any other method of printing a work of art that is then sold as “fine” art. If an artist wants to go that route, then all the power to them, but to me, those reprints will be nothing more than fancy posters, like the ones I used to hang in my room with thumbtacks when I was a teenager (God bless Farah Fawcett).
Thomas probably could have made a decent living as a regular gallery artist, teaching workshops now and then, but he was looking for something more and he found a market and mined it with a gusto. When I look at the paintings that he is known for, I like certain things about them and don’t like other things.
I think what appealed to most people who liked his art was the fact that they look at a scene like the one above and could imagine themselves living in that house. But the art “critics” start in with their diatribe about the colors used, the warm light coming from the windows and anything else they can think of.
But, what I see in the words of most of the people that criticize him, even after his death, is unbridled jealousy. They can’t stand the thought that they labor day in and day out over their paintings and nobody knows their name, but Thomas sells his colorful, comfortable scenes and is known the world over. They don’t like it so they stoop to calling Kinkade’s buyers all kinds of names and calling Thomas every name you can imagine.
Yes, some of his business practices were a little suspect and some of his gallery owners may have some legitimate beefs with him, but as an artist, just as an artist, I think he had as much talent as most that are plying their trade today. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion and you would think it would have no place in the hearts of artists, but I guess we’re all human.