Thomas Kinkade’s art lives on even though he passed away on April 6, 2012. Known as the “Painter of Light,” he was the most successful and most collected artist in U.S. history. Having come from a modest background, Kinkade emphasized simple living and inspirational messages through his paintings.
It was while growing up in the small town of Placerville, California that these important values were nurtured. It was also during this time that Kinkade began to explore the world around him. He spent a summer on a sketching tour with a college friend, producing the best-selling instructional book, “The Artist’s Guide to Sketching”. The success of the book landed the two young artists at Ralph Bakshi Studios to create background art for the animated feature film “Fire and Ice.” It was also during this time that Kinkade began to explore light and imaginative worlds with abandon.
After the film, Kinkade earned his living as a painter, selling his originals in galleries throughout California. In 1982, he married his childhood sweetheart, Nanette, and two years later they began to publish his art.
Awards and Recognition
Thomas Kinkade received many awards for his works, including multiple National Association of Limited Edition Dealers (NALED) awards for Artist of the Year and Graphic Artist of the Year, and his art has been named Lithograph of the Year nine times. In 2004, Kinkade received a special award from NALED recognizing him as the Most Award Winning Artist in the Past 25 Years.
Thomas Kinkade was recognized not only for his art, but also for his philanthropic efforts. In 2004, NALED honored Kinkade with the Eugene Freedman Humanitarian Award. In 2003, he was chosen as a national spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation(r) and raised over $350,000 for the organization during his 20 Years of Light Tour. He was honored with the 2002 World Children’s Center Humanitarian Award for his contributions to improving the welfare of children and their families through his work.
In 2002, Thomas Kinkade was inducted into the California Tourism Hall of Fame as an individual who has influenced the public’s perception of tourism in California through his images of California sights. He was selected to commemorate the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games and several World Series. In his prime, Kinkade met with the Pope, U.S. Presidents, celebrities, and other well-known dignitaries to convey his hope-filled, life-affirming message. His influence knew no bounds.
Mr. Kinkade also had the honor of commemorating a number of important milestones in American heritage, including the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary, the 85th Farewell Season of Yankee Stadium, Graceland’s 50th Anniversary, the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and others.
Not only was Mr. Kinkade praised for his unparalleled talent, but for his philanthropic efforts as well. Fulfilling his desire to share his work, his paintings have been used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for The Salvation Army, Hurricane Katrina Relief, Rotary International, and many more as donations that now grace the halls of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the White House, The Vatican, Britain’s Tate Museum and more.