Thomas Kinkade, the “painter of light” died this week. I remember visiting one of his galleries as a kid and being struck by the saccharin cookiecutter sameness of his pieces. The shopkeeper (I wouldn’t say gallerist exactly) took great pains to point out the lights in the paintings, and even dimming the lights so that I could see how they “glowed like real lit windows!”
I was impressed by her dedication and passion bordering on fervor, and her not immediately assuming, as a young teenager, I wasn’t a buyer. She treated me like any client and was delighted to share her love of his art with me.
I was not impressed by the paintings. I do not agree with his self assessment that he was like Rockwell, but I decided then and there that I wanted to create art that inspired people like that, I wanted that passion and that love.
However you may feel about his paintings, you cannot deny he was a master marketer. He saturated his market, his works invariably looked and felt the same, but they sold. they were licensed extensively and well loved by many. His devotion to his own work showed throughout and he believed in himself unreservedly. Each of his works on his site has a story and description and he seemed to genuinely love his subjects.
His legions of minions inspired me to build legions of my own, to gain love and passion and to inspire the world. While I may not have an empire like that yet, Thomas Kinkade inspired me by showing me how much you can achieve. He was my first modern exposure to the artist as a celebrity. And I liked it.