Defensive. Waiting for some “expert” to pounce, someone unaware that what matters is not what we know about something, as much as how it makes us feel. Feelings and emotions dwell deeper than our thoughts. Description is hard, and not especially useful.
Thomas Kinkade was a painter whose talents lay in his ability to speak to the hearts and yearnings of literally millions of us. Who has not at least seen one of his inspirational, pastoral soft-focus landscapes or seascapes? His mastery of light was total; he even called himself a “painter of light.”
At one time, Kinkade’s quality reproductions sold for $150 million in one year. He was the only artist whose company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Although he started from a broken home and was an art school dropout, his talent brought him both wealth and fame. Some 10 million homes, including mine, contain Kinkade’s artwork.
I was saddened by his death last April 6, at his home in Los Gatos, California, from what was ruled an “accidental overdose” of alcohol and Valium. He was only 54 years old.
What made him lose his battle against the demons in his life, which included alcoholism and merciless critics, one of whom wrote that his landscapes seem to have been painted by someone who hadn’t been outside in a long time? Perhaps the world was too tough for a man who described himself as romantic, sentimental and idealistic.
In 1980, he became an evangelical, born-again Christian whose works reflect his commitment. Many of his paintings contain churches and Bible references. Many who have bought them draw strength and comfort from them. His art was a form of ministry, yet he couldn’t help himself.
My favorite Kinkade is a tiny, spiral-bound “Quiet Moments: 101 Words of Joy & Happiness,” that opens like a miniature easel and blends numbered “Thoughts” with samples of his artwork. Some quotes are Biblical; others are his own.
Thought # 74 evokes the 1916 poem by Edgar Guest, “It takes a heap o’ livin in a house to make it home.” Kinkade writes of our memories decorating our surroundings, inescapably. Guest: “... ye can’t escape from these (memories)” What darkness in the memories of either might make them want to escape?
Kinkade is gone. Although those who hastened his departure by describing his work as “tacky” or “kitschy” were wrong, we may not see the likes of him again.