Thomas Kinkade paints not with his hands, nor with his imagination. He
paints with his heart. What's more, he lives the life his collectors see on
canvas and ultimately hang on their walls. The simplicity, tranquility and
peacefulness evident in each work of art reflect the everyday lifestyle of the
Kinkade clan. Known as the "Painter of Light," the 41-year-old Christian artist
and his family live in a quiet California village. They escaped to the
out-of-the-way locale when they discovered that tour groups were pointing out
their former home.
They left, not because they dislike their many collectors (one in five
American families will purchase a Kinkade product this year), but to seek the
simple life which is the hallmark of his work. And they have found it, live it,
and believe other families can too, if they are willing to eschew the hectic
20th century lifestyle, which most Americans accept as inevitable.
"Just as God did not give us a spirit of fear, He did not intend for us to
live in chaos." Kinkade tells On Mission as he dabs a bit of paint onto an
imaginary tree. Speaking from his studio, an eclectic cottage a mere 100 yards
from his family's house, the artist describes his actions during the interview.
Wearing a telephone headset, he works on a huge canvas, fashioning a quaint
village dotted with pine and fir trees, some festooned with sparkling
Kinkade and Nanette--his wife of 18 years, who became his childhood
sweetheart when they were 13 and 12 years old respectively--stroll through
their village a couple of times each week with their four children in tow. They
admire the yards they pass, and they visit with residents, who know the
artist's celebrity status but respect the family's privacy. They stop for lunch
or simply window-shop before returning home.
It's the kind of outing Kinkade describes as "available to every family,
free of any cost, absolutely satisfying and--in today's fast-paced world--in
danger of being lost entirely." They enjoy it for the fresh air, exercise and
communication, another endangered art, he says.
Back home after the stroll, life is peaceful too. No returning to a hectic
schedule. No blaring television programs. In fact, television is non-existent
in the Kinkade home. Instead, they have a video player and collection of
classic movies that they enjoy together.
Kinkade questions the skepticism that underlies much modern news coverage.
He strives to keep his children aware of God's often over-looked role in world
"The truth is that the world is not falling apart. There may be
problems--always have been, always will be--but God is still in control, is
still preparing a way for us, is still providing us with a full, rich life in
the wonderful world He created for us."
Back at the Kinkade studio the youngsters are scrambling about. Within the
cottage, they have their own designated areas of creativity--large tables laden
with kid supplies such as crayons and paper. The smallest is perched on her
father's lap, dabbling with a paintbrush in a corner of the current painting as
the artist concentrates on another section. He pauses to cuddle the child,
admiring her earnest smears, smiling encouragement her direction. Later, he'll
cover it with professional strokes.
Lights. All of his paintings bear light. The Kinkade glow, as some
collectors refer to it, illuminates his work lavishly, almost
But his characteristic treatment of light is much more than technique. It's
a reflection of his deeply personal commitment to bring God's glory into the
life of every person who becomes a Kinkade collector.
"Christ said He is the light of the world. Even if collectors don't know or
believe this truth, they will benefit from it when they hang in their home any
scene I paint."
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