I somehow expected the so-called "Painter of Light" to last forever, to be painting something into his nineties. Maybe he would have cast aside the popular style that made him so much money and gone into some more "fine arts" or "serious" type of work. At one point, Thomas Kinkade did show some "plein air" paintings done outdoors. You never know, he might have gone on to do abstractions or book illustrations or even church paintings. But it won't happen, since he's gone so soon.
I've always been a Kinkade fan. Back in the 80s, I went to a talk by James Gurney at the 1984 Worldcon in Anaheim, California. At the talk he presented a book that he had done with the then-unknown Kinkade, called "The Artist's Guide to Sketching." I bought a copy of this book which is now a valuable rarity. It inspired me to make countless sketches wherever I go, now on iPad as well as paper. I never knew then that Kinkade would become the American corporation that he was. In fact when I saw the first popular pictures by Kinkade I was surprised to recognize Gurney's collaborator as the artist.
I refer to April as "Kinkade month" because on some days this month, the world really does look like a Kinkade picture. The flowers are out everywhere, wildly colorful with azaleas and tulips and white dogwoods and redbud trees. The grass is an unnaturally brilliant shade of emerald green and the sky is either misty pink or glassy pure blue as it has been here these recent weeks. Arty types complain about Kinkade making ultrasweet, deceptive fantasy landscapes, but if you go to the right place here in Virginia at the right time of day in April, you will see real Kinkade scenes, complete with flowers and cottages and perhaps an old wagon and a stream. (The winery is next door.)
I prefer fantasy to reality. I am comforted by the imaginary world that Kinkade made up, of cabins in the woods or cozy villages where everyone helps their neighbor, where summer afternoons stretch on in warm silence or snow falls on pure winter nights. I have wanted to create that kind of nostalgic fantasy art myself, but I'm too busy learning to depict dragons.
This image is my homage to Kinkade. It is adapted from a real wrought-iron decorative gateway and garden in front of an urban cottage near my workplace. Maybe Kinkade is now in a Heaven that looks like one of his paintings.
Photoshop, original 7" x 10", April 8-9, 2012.