Thomas Kinkade (January 19, 1958 – April 6, 2012), Painter of Light, is critically well known to the art world and beloved by millions of consumers who have his artwork on their walls, calendars, tote bags and coffee mugs.
Mr. Kinkade may be gone, but his merchandising industry will certainly live on.
Thomas Kinkade has a style that appeals to the average person and irks his fellow artists.
Regardless of the art world’s opinion, his artwork has made him the most recognized contemporary painter since Norman Rockwell.
The Kinkade Style Of Painting Light
Kinkade did not come up with anything revolutionary in terms of art technique. He merely followed along the same path that artists have been traversing for hundreds of years. This path may be exemplified, and perhaps even begun, by one of the grand masters of art, Rembrandt van Rijn.
Several hundred years later the Hudson River School’s second generation of painters began exploring light and its effects on nature. This mid-nineteenth century group of artists painted in a style that has become known as luminism. It is concerned with the effects of light and characterized by attention to detail and a softening of edges.
These tenets are clearly seen in a Kinkade painting. The choice of colors, the attention to detail, the sun filled landscapes and the glowing windows peering out of the evening dusk all fit in nicely with the Hudson River School luminists.
The Kinkade Palette
One thing that no one can dispute is Thomas Kinkade was not afraid of color. His work is gloriously full of the stuff. Saturated color oozes from all the corners of a Kinkade painting. This is no place for wimpy, washed out delicacy.
Paint colors are broken down into two groups. The two groups are pigments that are chemical combinations and those that are organic in nature. Chemically created colors have more color saturation and hold up better to thinning with medium, other colors or white.
These saturated colors are typical of a Kinkade painting. The skies are the bluest blues, the flowers at their height of color. Notice the orange glow from windows on a starlit night. It looks more like a roaring fire than a light from a single candle flame.
Thomas Kinkade’s Use Of Color And Value
Chiaroscuro can be loosely defined as using intense contrasts of light and shade. Kinkade’s light tones appear so very light as a result of using very dark shading in his compositions. His work uses chiaroscuro to heighten the intensity of his light, giving his pieces a luminous quality.
Another way that Kinkade makes his paintings pop is by the use of complementary color pairs. Observing the heavens in a Kinkade painting, one may see a luminous golden aura cast down from the sky. Examine the clouds through which the lights emerge, and one is likely to see them cast with purple shading.
The red masses of blooms edging a walkway will probably have blue spikes of flowers juxtaposed next to them, and the autumnal red maple trees in the middle ground will be backed by deep green evergreens.
The forest scenes and cityscapes of Thomas Kinkade are waiting for you to take your place. They are generally devoid of man or beast. If there is a person or creature in the painting, it is not the focus of the work. The figure is merely a prop to move the viewer’s eye through the composition.
This is done specifically to set the tone of the piece. It is a quiet, peaceful place waiting for the viewer to enter. It is a safe and secure haven. Kinkade wants to give his customer something nice to look at when things are not so nice in the real world.
His world also does not hint of gender, ethnicity, social or economic background. Everyman is welcome in the Kinkade world. His work has a universality that appeals to everyone. The subject matter, the colors and style of the work are inoffensive and cheery reminders of what life may have been or could be.
It’s no wonder that millions purchase his prints and home décor items. Who doesn’t want a cheerful, inviting scene to become immersed in when the real world isn’t as warm and cozy as he would like?