Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Painter of Light

Thomas Kinkade, known as a painter of light, passed away last week. His paintings, popularized through prints, calendars, cards, books and local galleries, are said to be in 20% of the homes in the United States. We are one of those homes, with several of his prints on our walls.

In another house, these climbed up the stairwell. Here, they work well following the line of the high ceiling. One day, our youngest was sitting on the couch, looking up at them. He said they told a story. "You go in through the gate, walk along the path into that garden in the middle painting, sit and rest awhile in the gazebo, then keep climbing on the trail, through the trees by that stream, up the hill until you get to the top and can look back down on the valley below." I hadn't really planned it that way when we put them up, but it works.

One of our daughters, in a college class, heard the instructor severely criticize his paintings as unrealistic and fanciful. Yes, we have lived in beautiful areas, but we have seen, many times, sunsets and sky and ocean scenes as spectacular as those he paints. For real. Cloud forms, sunrises, sunsets, light reflecting across water, ocean waves, cozy cottages, busy city streets, mountains, trees, all are scenes he painted. The next time it rains, watch for the lights reflected onto the streets, like in this painting. For real.

I love the houses and cottage scenes he paints. He said at one gallery, a woman came up to him to say one of his paintings got her through a very depressing time. She would look at the scene and visualize herself sitting on the porch, comfortably rocking in the chair, looking out over the field. By imagining the peace and quiet and calm of the place, she was able to rise above her conflict. This is one of my favorites. The dappled sunlight across the roof and courtyard, the abundant flowers, and the indoor lights shining through the shutters make it very inviting and comfortable. I could sit there, in my rocking chair.
His books, also are inspiring. Simpler Times is my favorite, a book easy to browse through, or to read and absorb. My book has crinkled, wrinkled pages from a time it got wet, but that does not dampen its message of creativity and joy and beauty. My favorite quote is from the chapter on romance.
"Contrary to popular opinion,  romance is not a relationship - although it can add fullness and spice and excitement to a connection between two people...Romance is instead an attitude, a set of habits, a way of encountering the world. You are a romantic when savoring experience is a priority for you, when you are willing to invest time and energy into making your experiences more vivid and memorable...We live in a beautiful world, one that is shimmering with romance. It's all around you, rich and lovely and exciting. It comes into your life when you open yourself to savor your moments - happy and sad, beautiful and mundane, alone or with someone you love."

In Lightposts for Living, he writes about planning and living a fulfilling life. He challenged readers to write a ten word summary of their life goals. At first, I thought that was impossible. Ten words? All of life purpose in ten words? Right. It came to me, one night, after I had worked and re-worked it.

People and places are improved because of my influence. Surprisingly, I fit it into nine words.

This artist, with his human frailties and struggles, just like the rest of us, expressed his creativity and encouraged us with scenes of joy and peace and love and beauty.
 I am inspired by him, and grateful.


  1. I've enjoyed many of his paintings, but never took time to learn much about him or read the books. I am intrigued with that 10 word summary. May have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing about him and your summary:)

    1. Here's another quote from Simpler Times. "What a joy it is to be able to create something. Creativity is one of the great privileges of being human. You apply hands and mind and spirit to fashion something that did not exist before in that precise form. You touch the universe with your own unique personality and somehow at least a little corner of the universe is changed. And in the process, a part of you is created anew." -Thomas Kinkade

    2. Oh, I love that quote! Thank you:) Another one for the journal.

  2. Hi Maureen!

    Been a while since I've been visiting, but I'm happy to say my life is being rediscovered since a recent job loss and I am joyful in knowing the full provision of the Lord beyond the rat race - and a more interactive return to Blogland! I, too, was saddened at the loss of Mr. Kinkade. His works have always been a ministry to myself and my husband. I totally identify with the "romantic" quote above. I have always looked at the world in such a way - daring to wear on my sleeve what many shove in a corner thinking it foolishness. But, doesn't the Lord use foolishness to confound the wise? I think I shall remain in the stories of a Kinkade painting - where the Light is. Thanks for this lovely memorial post.