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Thomas Kinkade "Painter of Light"



A REMEMBRANCE: Written by Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery owner & www.thomaskinkadeonline.com moderator John McIntire in an effort to spread the real truth behind Thomas Kinkade and his works.

Thomas Kinkade has sold more canvases than any painter in history. That's more than Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Gogan, Monet, Manet, and Renoir combined! Some critics (most who are jealous struggling artists) argue that because of this fact, Thomas Kinkade is too mainstream but just think of it, the more popular and renowned an artist's works are, the more valuable their work becomes. In fact Walt Disney, Major League Baseball, Nascar, Indianapolis 500, Elvis Presley Foundation, Warner Brothers, Biltmore Manor, the Denver Broncos, the Tim Tebow Foundation, NY Yankees, San Francisco Giants, and Boston Red Sox have all partnered with Thomas Kinkade. 

Thom's early years: Thomas Kinkade was born January 19, 1958 in Sacramento, California into a family of Scottish/Irish descent. In 1964, Thom and his family comprising of his older sister Kate and younger brother Patrick, moved to the nearby town of Placerville, California. While growing up, Kinkade began to take a keen interest in drawing, often producing pencil or watercolor paintings. In fact Thom's second grade teacher told Thom's mother he would be a great painter someday. At the young age of twelve, Kinkade would often wander the woods near his home, toting along his sketch pad, and drawing the elements around him. Thomas Kinkade made his bedroom his studio and his paintings typically spread to the entire house.

At home, values based on family, home and faith in God were being instilled in the young man, and were serving as inspiration for his drawings and his efforts in celebrating the family. Thom helped pay for his paints and brushes by delivering the local newspaper where he would eventually meet his future wife and high school sweetheart, Nanette. His mother was a single parent raising three children and struggled to make ends meet. In fact, Thom states that to this day, he hates to eat hamburgers because as a child, his mother was so poor, she would often mix oatmeal with hamburger meat which Thom ate regularly. Due to his mother 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. Also, the fact that Thom and his family was so poor leads to the foundation of Thom's philosophy that all people should be able to enjoy art regardless of their income which is why he offers product at different price points. By his 16th birthday, Thomas Kinkade was under the apprenticeship of his nearby neighbor, Glen Wessels, an internationally known artist who taught Thom about art and life. Upon completion of his primary education, Kinkade turned to the University of California at Berkeley to formally study art, followed by another degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

After college, Thom and his fellow painter and friend, James Gurney, traveled throughout America by catching rides on freight trains. Accompanied by their art gear, they both worked on plein air sketches while on the road. They sold many of these sketches to help purchase their food and lodging as they traveled across the country. Working outdoors, Kinkade studied how the light brought forth brilliant colors that sparkled, and how the movement of clouds created shadows over the landscape. Thom worked hard to capture this effect in his paintings. In May of 1982, Thom married Nanette. With his wife's encouragement and support, Kinkade pursued a career as a free lance artist.

Thom's success as an artist: Thomas Kinkade first sold his prints outside his local supermarket at $25 each. He quickly consigned his artwork with a gallery who sold over 200 prints in just six months, then sold 1000 prints for $35 each which sold out super quick. Thomas Kinkade's message of family, home values and faith was taken to heart by his fans and added to his popularity and the demand for personal appearances was quickly rivaling the demand for his paintings. Thom soon realized that most of his collectors are people who never thought about art before or considered buying art. His artwork would make people feel comfort, peace, and joy. In Thom's words, "people would look at my paintings and say to me 'I wish I could live there' and I'd say I wish I could live there too. That's why I painted it."

Thomas Kinkade's "Robert Girrard" period: From 1984 to 1989, Thomas Kinkade, enthralled with the "French Impressionistic" style of painting, decided to experiment with this style but he did not want to tarnish his name and reputation as a romantic style painter known for his detailed cottage, mountain, and seascape scenes. Therefore, his French impressionistic artwork he published under the alias name of "Robert Girrard." Little did he realize that he was also deeply talented in this French impressionistic style as well which would later be published under the name "Robert Girrard."

Thom's gains huge popularity:  In 1989, Lightpost Publishing took over the rights to Thom's artwork and began producing Thom's art in large quantities, resulting in many Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries opening across the nation and in England. Although Lightpost Publishing played a huge role in increasing Thom's name recognition throughout the world, there were disagreements between Thom and Lightpost management as to the way the business was being run, especially with the mass production of Kinkade product.

Thom was touring the nation almost every week and was required to release as many paintings as possible. After suffering devastating retail losses following 9/11, Thom purchased all the devalued stock in Lightpost Publishing, cleaned house and renamed his company the Thomas Kinkade Company. Since then, Thom spent more time with his family, and much more time (often years) creating his new masterworks, along with less time traveling to galleries. As a result, Thom's artwork is more detailed and production quantities are much more limited than they were when Lightpost Publishing owned all the rights.

In 2008, Lionsgate Films® created a major motion picture release entitled, "The Christmas Cottage," inspired by the early life and art of Thomas Kinkade. It is a story of how a small community and an aging mentor (Glen Wessels) come to the aid of Thom's family to save the only home they had ever known and along the way, taught Thom the meaning of love, friendship, and what it means to be an artist. It stars Peter O'Toole (as Glen Wessels), Marcia Gay Harden (as Thom's mother), Chris Elliot (the town mayor) and Jared Padelecki (as Thom). It was released for Christmas 2008 and Thom created a new Christmas painting, Christmas Cottage, which is featured in the movie.

Unfortunately, due to the movie entailing strong family values with no foul language, nudity, or violence, the movie was not picked up by any major studio and was released directly to video for the 2008 Christmas holiday. In the words of a major motion picture studio representative, "If 'On Golden Pond' were released today, no studio would buy the rights" for the same reason. Thomas Kinkade's "Christmas Cottage" painting (featured at the end of the film) can be purchased on our website. Search for the title Christmas Cottage.

Charity work: Thomas Kinkade has raised supported millions to non-profit organizations focused on children and humanitarian relief including the Salvation Army, Make-A-Wish Foundation, World Vision, Art for Children Charities. Each time Thom chose a gallery to go visit, he required that the gallery would sponsor a charity of their choice in which a charity auction would take place which would usually raise between $10,000 to $30,000 for each of Thom's visits. My galleries partnered up with Thom and raised over $47,000 for the Tim Tebow Foundation and $8000 for the Alzheimer's Association of Denver, Colorado.

Financial struggles: 2010 did not start off well. The Thomas Kinkade Company had been losing money for some time due to erroneous management decisions and management spending. In addition, Kinkade galleries throughout the nation had lost a tremendous amount of confidence and respect with Thom's management. As a result, a division of the Thomas Kinkade Company (not the entire company as the media likes to report) filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to reorganize it's finances and Thom completely cleaned house by firing his executives and rehiring a new staff. The new President of the Thomas Kinkade Company, John Hasting, immediately made a huge impact in bonding not only with Thom and his brother Patrick, but has also earned a tremendous amount of respect from the Thomas Kinkade Galleries as well. Thom's new staff quickly succeeded in bringing back the integrity the company so deserved. In just over a year, the Company paid off it's debts and emerged from Bankruptcy and thrived as a successful business once again.

That same year, Thomas Kinkade partnered with Warner Brothers Studios and has released a Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind paintings. Thomas Kinkade's Disney Dreams Series has been his best selling hit to date. In addition, that same year, our Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries of Colorado and Thomas Kinkade partnered up with Tim Tebow and the Tim Tebow Foundation along with the Denver Broncos at which time, Thom painted his first NFL painting entitled "Mile High Thunder" as a tribute to the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow. Our Galleries have chosen to contribute 10% of the total sale of each "Mile High Thunder" painting to the Tim Tebow Foundation and have thus contributed more than $50,000 to Tim's Foundation which benefits underprivileged children.

In 2011, Thom continued to thrive in painting Masterpieces which included his highly anticipated and successful spiritual painting "Walk of Faith," Gone with the Wind, and Disney's Lion King and Sleeping Beauty. In 2012, Thom's ninth Disney Dreams release of "The Little Mermaid" became his best Disney seller of all time and quickly sold out.

Thomas Kinkade's passing: On Good Friday, April 6th, 2012, Thomas Kinkade passed away in his sleep. Family, friends, and fans were shocked by this news. In fact, weeks prior to his death, Thom had recently enrolled in a fitness camp dedicated to losing weight and he was on a crusade of eating better and exercising. Word of Thom's passing spread quickly among fans and collectors. Thomas Kinkade galleries throughout the nation experienced a record setting amount of sales resulting from Thom's passing. In fact, most galleries reported selling a majority of their inventory the following 2 days after Thom had died. The Thomas Kinkade Company reopened from the Easter Holiday weekend that following Tuesday, only to find that galleries had ordered over 10,000 pieces of art and orders were continuing to come by the minute. 

The future for the Thomas Kinkade Company: The Thomas Kinkade Company is still owned by the Kinkade family and nothing is changing in that regard. The family has instructed the Thomas Kinkade Company and galleries to continue to share and make available his wonderful art with collectors and that's exactly what we will do. Regarding future releases, Thom was painting a lot so there are more Thomas Kinkade original paintings to be released in the future. The Thomas Kinkade Company has a large number of unreleased beautiful images and many of those span Thom's entire career giving a strong possibility that these will be released as limited editions in the future.

My thoughts on Thom: The last time I saw Thom was when he came to visit my Colorado Galleries in November 2010 to unveil his new Denver Bronco painting "Mile High Thunder." We had so many attendees that we had to rent out Invesco Field for our Saturday event. The night before the event, Thom, Patrick Kinkade, and myself had a wonderful dinner with Tim Tebow and his family. Thom and Tim immediately bonded over talks about their relationship with Jesus Christ, the criticism they often endured from the media, and potential plans for Thom to paint (as Tim described) a "Gator Nation" painting as a tribute to the Florida Gators to raise funds for the Tim Tebow Foundation. The dinner ended with Thom drawing a very elaborate sketch on the back of a painting we gave to Tim. The sketch was of a Cross on a mountain side which Thom personalized by writing "Tim, Let your light shine. Matthew 5:16." After dinner, Thom, Patrick  and I shared a cigar and had a nice visit together. Thom paid me a special compliment when he continued to pick my brain on ideas to help make some of his corporate galleries improve. I have been appalled by certain critics who attack Thom for his good deeds and look for any reasons to literally spread hate. I was both surprised and impressed with how Thom never said a negative thing about these critics, even during private conversations with me. Thom has always struck me as a very "cool" and genuine person whose sole desire was to bring happiness to his collectors by sharing his art work.

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