The Painter of Light

Known as the Painter of Light, Thomas Kinkade, spent his life painting landscapes, cottages and churches inspired by his boyhood town of Placerville, CA. He died yesterday at the age of 54 of natural causes. Born at Sacramento’s Mercy Hospital in 1958, Tom moved to Placerville as a young boy. It was in this quaint town of Placerville that his art empire was born after he was commissioned to create a work for the Placerville Library. He came up with a rainy-day painting reflecting the Mother Lode town as he envisioned it looked in 1916. A few years later, a Placerville gift shop began carrying his works. By 1990, that gift shop became the first Thomas Kinkade Gallery.

In another season of my life, I had the privilege of working with the Media Arts Group and selling Thomas Kinkade gifts and stationary as well as the infamous Thomas Kinkade calendar into Christian Bookstores. As a broker for Amcal Arts, I literally had the first hand experience of watching Tom’s artwork gain popularity and spread to a national audience. As Tom’s notoriety increased, my purchase orders for Tom’s gifts and calendars also exponentially increased. In fact for several years, I was the top inspirational salesperson for Amcal, and actually took some of the proceeds of my bonus from the company in 1995 to purchase my first Thomas Kinkade painting, which still hangs on the wall of our living room.

While his sentimental paintings, with their scenes of country gardens and churches in dewy morning light, were widely popular by the general public, they were disdained by the art establishment. And while I’m no art expert, I think some of the downfall of Tom’s popularity with the critics and with the decline of his artwork’s popularity was due to the over-saturation of his work on the market. I have to admit, even I got embarrassed with the over abundance of his art on the trinkets and knick knacks they adorned as I sat with buyers across Northern California.

Regardless of what the critics thought, Thomas Kinkade truly brought light and inspiration to our world and the impact of his contributions will be felt for generations to come.

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