Thomas Kinkade: Today's Rockwell?
Sep 5, 2002 (Updated Sep 6, 2002)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Beautiful paintings reproduced on heavy stock.
The Bottom Line: Quality book, with a generous number of Kinkade's finest prints. Accompanying text expands, rather than detracts, from the artists' primary themes and influences.
Painting in what's come to be known as Romantic Realism, prolific California artist Thomas Kinkade, blends a number of key Americana themes into his impressive body of work. This retrospective, Paintings of Radiant Light, offers 120 high quality reproductions representing the variety of his artistic output.
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Born in the Sierra foothills town of Placerville, named for the mining process used in nearby precious metal deposits, Thom and his brother roamed the sylvan glades and rode bikes through quaint Victorian gingerbread on small town streets.
Thomas artistic abilities emerged at a young age, and he befriended local artists, and was strongly encouraged by his Mom, who managed to raise two spirited boys through her job as a nurse and an abiding faith.
Thomas was supported in his earliest works by a local gallery owner, George Carpenter, who lent the budding painter precious space in his original Main Street shop.
Thomas' skills grew through shoe string tramps through Europe and an important apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios, where he honed his scenery skills through work on background design, (in the day before computer enhanced animation they used hundreds, even thousands of individual "cells"). Chief among those was Fire And Ice.
Disney's influence on Kinkade's style would continue through the years, as images of thatched cottages from travels abroad, were met with a near magical warmth and romantic idealism. Here we find images such as "Emerald Isle Cottage" imbued with the thousand shades of Irish green, and his trademark use of light, which is actually a layering technique.
Kinkade has grown to be one of America's most popular artists, and like Norman Rockwell, who he emulates, he sees no problem with providing art for the everyday buyer. Though this book focuses primarily on his paintings, there are smaller inspirational prints, shadowbox offerings and a bevy of coffee mugs, tea pots, calendars, date books, ornaments and small models of cottages and churches among the myriad of TK output.
One series featured here, that is near and dear to my heart, is the "End Of A Perfect Day" group of paintings. I have long admired Thom's landscapes over his villages, and with my love for log cabins, majestic pines and snow-capped mountains, these scenes, taken at different times of day, speak to me personally.
In terms of faith, Kinkade is vocal in his Christianity, and the moniker, Painter Of Light, here refers to more than just an artistic technique. The business end of the Thomas Kinkade empire is Lamppost Publishing Co. also plays upon that same uplifting theme.
To that end, there are a number of subtly spiritual works, with "Mountain Chapel" being another favorite. His very special "Lighthouse" series gives hope, as storm tossed boats are drawn to these beacons of hope as rays of golden sunlight pierce the leaden skies above. Drawing on his Gold Country history, "Hometown Chapel" is one of the delights, along with much of his Christmas Victoriana paintings, and downtown settings, which can actually be viewed on local Thomas Kinkade tours.
There are two sides to Kinkade. With a European influence, a more impressionistic "plein aire" style features broad dabs of pigment which look more like pastel mosaic's up close, but viewed from a distance coalesce into striking canvases. A few of these are captured here, with outdoor scenes predominating. "Pacific Grove" is a particular favorite done near Monterey and Carmel, CA.
Besides faith, Kinkade's favorite art celebrates the importance of family. Living in the verdant Santa Cruz Mountains, nestled near the small towns of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno, Thom's surrounded by his childhood sweetheart Nan, and his four daughters. Although his studio is close by, Kinkade not only welcomes hugs and small chats but travels with his family as well. Oldest daughter Merritt, is reputed to be a fledgling artist herself, proving that this apple of a proud Papa's eye doesn't fall too far from the family tree!
Besides paintings of cottages, several named for each daughter, the book explains each work contains any number of small hidden "N's" as tribute to his beloved wife and partner. I had to use a magnifying glass, but in the bottom corner the artist is kind enough to let interested fans in on the total number per painting.
Earlier Kinkade works, from his "Archive" collection, also share pride of place. While good, these paintings do not contain the technical expertise of later works. Nevertheless, they help chart one artist's remarkable journey, and I happen to collect a number of Thomas' Indian Village archival prints, in addition to the mountain scenes so close to my heart.
You may find a wonderful sunset on the Seine's Rive Gauche, or a small but colorful print of his original Carmel, CA studio create a calm and dreamy mood. Or bustling scenes of Chinatown near San Francisco, or a special world Thom's created, Lamplight Village may provide hours of viewing pleasure.
Overall, there is just enough prose to give a compelling background of Thomas Kinkade, while full-color plates on each facing page give plenty of indication of the skill, heart and inspiration of this gifted artist.
Having met Thom twice at the expanded Thomas Kinkade Gallery in Placerville, I can testify to his gracious, humble and kind nature. And with his burgeoning popularity, surely he might have changed over the years. The only thing that's changed is the fact George Carpenter now features only TK artwork, both in the upstairs gallery and the associated works sold down below.
And though Thom won't trumpet these good deeds himself, both he and Nan are active members of their local church, and each Christmas season he generously donates singed limited edition "Hometown" versions of a popular print, then donates all monies to local charities.
Walk soft and carry a big stick? Maybe on Thom's sojourns to the Old Sod of home, (Ireland), but here at least the artist walks soft and carries a big brush. Highly recommended art book, featuring many of Kinkade's keystone works. Makes an especially lovely and thoughtful gift for someone who needs an emotional or spiritual lift.
Read more product reviews on Thomas Kinkade and Philippa Reed - Thomas Kinkade: Paintings of Radiant Light
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