Artist Thomas Kinkade died at 54

Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light” and one of the most popular artists in America, died suddenly Friday at his Los Gatos home. He was 54.
His family said in a statement that his death appeared to be from natural causes.
“Thom provided a wonderful life for his family” – his wife, Nanette, said in a statement. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”
His paintings are hanging in an estimated one of every 20 homes in the United States. Fans cite the warm, familiar feeling of his mass-produced works of art, while it has become fashionable for art critics to dismiss his pieces as tacky. In any event, his prints of idyllic cottages and bucolic garden gates helped establish a brand – famed for their painted highlights – not commonly seen in the art world.
“I’m a warrior for light” – Kinkade told the Mercury News in 2002, alluding not just to his technical skill at creating light on canvas but to the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. “With whatever talent and resources I have, I’m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel.”
His Media Arts Group company surged to success, taking in 32 million dollars per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country 10 years ago, before it went private in the middle of the past decade. The cost of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than 10,000 dollars.

Artist Thomas Kinkade died at 54
Thomas Kinkade.

Artist Thomas Kinkade once said that he had something in common with Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell: He wanted to make people happy.
And he did that for many with brushwork paintings that focused on idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches. The works became big sellers for dealers across the U.S.
The self-described “Painter of Light” (who died Friday at age 54) produced sentimental scenes of country gardens and pastoral landscapes in dewy morning light that were beloved by many but criticized by the art establishment.
Kinkade died at his home in Los Gatos in the San Francisco Bay Area of what appeared to be natural causes – said family spokesman David Satterfield.
He claimed to be the nation’s most-collected living artist, and his paintings and spin-off products were said to fetch about $100 million a year in sales, and to be in 10 million U.S. homes.
Those light-infused renderings are often prominently displayed in buildings and malls and on products – generally depicting tranquil scenes with lush landscaping and streams running nearby. Many contain images from Bible passages.

Kinkade’s fame and fortune, however, were complicated by personal and business struggles.
In the last decade he had been locked in legal battles with former Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery owners, some of whom accused him in lawsuits of trading heavily on his Christian beliefs even as he drove them to financial ruin.
He had battled alcohol abuse, former business associates said in court records and interviews, and in 2010 his mug shot went viral after his arrest on a drunken driving charge to which he later pleaded no contest.
And for more than a year, Kinkade had been separated from his wife (Nanette) with whom he had four daughters.
“The Thomas Kinkade story and legacy is a story of triumph and tragedy, which I believe that everyone can gain from paying attention to” – said Terry Sheppard, a former Kinkade friend and company vice president who parted ways with the painter in 2003.
Kinkade died Friday at his home in Monte Sereno, an affluent enclave near Los Gatos in the San Francisco Bay Area. His family attributed his death to natural causes. The Santa Clara County coroner planned to conduct an autopsy Monday.
“Thom provided a wonderful life for his family” – his wife, Nanette Kinkade, said in a statement. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by their daughters, Merritt, Chandler, Winsor and Everett, and a brother, Pat, who worked for Kinkade’s company.
On Saturday, Thomas Kinkade Co. officials sent a message to distributors that the business will continue, saying that “his art and powerful message of inspiration will live on.”

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