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April 03, 2006


Fr Martin Fox (Septimus)

What about Kinkade's work isn't a "dark side"?

Steven Lewis

And all this time I thought I should be trying to be Axl Rose.


Jeez, Amy, you missed the best part:

The more bizarre allegations came out in those same legal proceedings, when former employees and business associates recounted in very specfic detail such un-Christian-like behavior as ... urinating in public places, including Disneyland (poor Pooh!) and a Las Vegas hotel elevator.

In a bizarre twist to this entire drama, it's these allegations of lewd conduct that Kinkade is not denying. (He has denied the accusations of financial impropriety). In a deposition, the artist mentioned his practice of urinating outdoors, saying he "grew up in the country" where it was common. When asked specifically about the alleged Las Vegas elevator incident, Kinkade admitted it might have happened. "There may have been some ritual territory marking going on, but I don't recall it," he said.

Every flower in every Kinkade painting is in bloom, but nowhere do I see a guy lurking in the bushes, peeing.


"Ritual territory marking"?!?!!


Christopher Blosser

CBS News did a piece on the 'Kinkade industry' some years ago:


This guy figured out a way to mass-produce his oil paintings (not just photo-reproducing; he has hired hands do the painting and then 'hand-touches' the copies with a dab of his brush.

He's mass-marketed his paintings to the masses, followed by the 'Walt Disney' hailstorm of products:

"You can put a Thomas Kinkade couch beneath your Thomas Kinkade painting. Next to the Thomas Kinkade couch goes the Thomas Kinkade end table. On top of that goes your collection of Thomas Kinkade books, Thomas Kinkade collectibles, Thomas Kinkade throw rugs. You can snuggle your Thomas Kinkade teddy bear. . . . and you can put all of that inside your new Thomas Kinkade home in the Thomas Kinkade subdivision."



In a way it's too bad.

If you get a chance to see any reproductions of Kinkade's early plein air work - he used to be one of those guys you see with an easel out by the ocean around Monterey - you see that there is a fair amount of talent there. Or was at one time.

The commercial stuff is awful, of course. One mourns the beautiful things that might have been, had the possessor of that talent had a bit more integrity.


Kincaide has also writter (with the help of a collaborator) several novels. They are bad - very bad - but are wholesome and eagerly snapped up by fans of Jan Karon.


Kinkade is permitted his humanity. His company's questionable accounting practices -- if true -- are criminal, but his behavior is only boorish, not vicious or cruel.

His worse "sin" (if you want to call it that), perhaps, is his art. He should be made to answer for it on the Day of Judgement. Everything from composition to execution is an insult to nearly 2K years of Christian devotional expression.

Now, some folks may disagree with me on this, but I believe that if a Christian is interested in broadening their understannding of this rich and boundless tradition, they may want to begin with Janson's History of Art or some other art history survey book worthy of Janson's reputation. Are there other -- particuarly Christian -- survey books?

A few of my favorite Kinkadian artistic "sins":

* Our Lord standing outside of a shack in the woods with a line of sheep (what are sheep doing in the woods?) walking towards it

* Lighted lamp posts in the middle of wooded areas with no recognizable energy sources (and no this is NOT a Narnia reference)

* Gullies. Lots of gullies.

* The V-shaped "bird" in the sky of EVERY painting

* Blooming azaleas EVERYWHERE

* Winter scenes depicting homes draped with thick (furry) snow even though every window is lit through with super bright lights, and multiple chimney's are going simulatenously

* The same snowman in every winter scene

* One image depicting three crosses on a mountainous ledge

* Lighthouses no taller than the homes attached to them

So much bad art, and so little time.

Tim J.

As an artist, I was always put off by Kinkade's moniker "Painter of Light" when the light in his work looks so unnatural and forced. Light is something that is really important to my work.

I am not happy to hear about the problems in his private life. It just illustrates (again) that money does not buy grace or personal depth.

I, too have seen some of his plein air work and thought it had potential.

It's a shame.


Can't hold a candle to the confluence of talent and dissolution of Caravaggio.


Caravaggio? Try Cellini.

Re: Kinkade, I find I can't even muster the interest to snark or cluck. The problem isn't *him*, especially...it's the artistic vacuum he exists in the middle of, and profits from.

Renaissance art was visually accessible to most observers, but the "princes" who patronize art today do not value that trait, and neither do the heads of schools (in either sense) of art, so most artists, having no more integrity than Mr. Marks His Territory there, do not value it either. Naturally, the great unwashed public, the people who don't want or need deliberately obscure art, look at and buy crap. Why is anyone surprised about any of this?

Gregg the obscure

Absent his prominent connection to evangelicalism, these behaviors on the part of Kinkade would probably improve his standing in the art world.

Fr Martin Fox (Septimus)


Hmm, maybe the shack in the woods is where sheep go to become lamb chops?

Give whole new meaning to "Come to me..."


An interesting local angle is that Kinkade's daughters attend a Catholic High School in San Jose, CA. As a result of his involvement, he has made big contributions to the visual and performing arts facilities there. They created an entire wing. I have no interest in his greeting card art but really is it any worse than Lladro or other tacky collectables?

Anyway, my artistic daughter will no doubt benefit from his generosity with Archbishop Mitty High School when she enrolls there in a few years.

Jennifer N.

Aww... I think his paintings are pretty.

I don't care about misplaced sheep or blooming azaleas or accurate lighting. His paintings are a romantic image of places where I would love to live.

I'm not so impressed with his ritual territory marking, however. Not even my 2 year old labrador does that anymore.

Ed the Roman

I realize, with a certain degree of relief, that I don't know who this guy is.


If he's arrested or charged with anything, it should be for crimes against Art.

What's really scarry and embarrassing is that a Guardian article last week claimed an estimated 1 in 20 American homes have Kinkade's "Art" on their walls. This has become the nation of Kitsch par excellence.

Noah Nehm

From the Thomas Kinkade Website:

Thomas Kinkade is America's most collected living artist. Coming from a modest background, Kinkade emphasizes simple pleasures and inspirational messages through his paintings. As a devout Christian, Kinkade uses his gift as a vehicle to communicate and spread inherent life-affirming values.

Now, given the revelations from the depositions, it would be all too easy to be snarky. It seems to me, though, that there are a number of spiritual truths at play here. One, perhaps, is that pride can dull one's conscience, so that before long he overlooks his own sins. I can't look into TK's soul, but his words seem to suggests a type of antinomianism, perhaps borne of his belief in a type of divine mission, spreading the Gospel, as it were, through his paintings.

The other spiritual truth is the reality of spiritual warfare. I think it is likely all prominent Christians are under more spiritual pressure from the devil than most, precisely because the devil loves nothing more than humiliating religious people failing miserably in their sins. Plus it could be that God allows this precisely because it might be the only way to turn someone around who is hardened by pride or habit.

In short, my reaction to all of this is "There, but for the grace of God, go I"

Happy Anonymous Person

Kinkade took tacky to a whole new level. I don't mind kitsch or amusingly tacky things, and, while I find his paintings appalling, I have a certain fondness for reruns of Bob Ross' show (gotta love the "happy trees"), but Kinkade went beyond tacky to the far edge of vulgar. Not just the work, but the mass-marketing of it, and the icky Christian angle, and...just everything. You can't open a magazine without seeing an advertisement for some new schlocky thingumabob of his, he's got his paintings plastered all over furniture and coffee mugs and just about everything. I swear I wouldn't be surprised to hear there are Thomas Kinkade condoms.

It's his tackiness and his vulgarity and his playing into the materialistic, consumerist mentality, and the sheer heinous ugliness of the stuff.

But tacky is as tacky does, I suppose, hence the really crude behavior.

Just don't tell me any personally damning stories about Bob Ross, 'cause it would break my heart. ;)


For Kitsch, I prefer Spitzweg (Anybody remember the painting "The Bookworm"?. Kincaid Kitsch is just too much for me.


Maybe if I had better taste I'd hate Kinkade, but I don't care really: he makes harmless, nostalgic decorative art.

So what makes his drinking, etc., any of our business?


I love that last part where he says something like "You have to realize I'm an idol to these people," as if that somehow justifies his groping.
I've always found it interesting that evangelicals hold him up as the "Christian" artist when he rarely includes people in his work. What is so Christian about outdoor scenes with no human life?


My wife, a gifted artist, has often said that the houses, churches, and other buildings in Kincade's paintings look as though there are fires burning inside of them, judging from the luminous intensity of the windows. I suggested to her that she paint a picture of TK running madly down a street as flames burst forth from the buildings' windows. I also told her to call it "Thomas Kincade in Hell". She thought I was nasty and mean-spirited.


My sister-in-law gave me a Thomas Kincaide Bible cover one year for Christmas. Not my choice, but it was a gift. Except it was too big for my Bible. So, since I was studying theology at the time and logging my CCC everywhere, it's my Catechism cover. Fits like a glove.

My mom got a few Thomas Kincaide puzzles.

It's not like it's a sin for buying the stuff. Regardless of whether the artist marks territory. Maybe it's a desperate attempt for him to be artistic again.


Ohmygosh, Amy, your last line made me laugh so hard it hurts. That's the best laugh I've had in....months!!!! Thanks.


I grew up in the country and have been known to urinate outdoors also on occasion (I'm female), but never at Disneyland or Disneyworld. Or anywhere where people might actually see you. (The township I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s NOW has not quite 40 people per square mile.) I think when I was a kid it was more like 25.


The other day I was listening to my The Best of Haugen-Hass CD while perusing my collection of first edition Kincaid limited lithographs (with Light Touch (TM). As I took another sip out of my carton of chardonnay, I suddenly had an urge to mark my territory.

Now I know why.

Paula L

Thomas Kinkade and art should not appear in the same sentence. I have seen copies of his early Plein Air work and it does show talent.
However I guess it did not show that all important aspect of Kinkade's Schlocky Horror Picture Show work- MERCHANDISING.
Umm let's see over here we will have the lighted fairy tale cottage, and next to that will be the lighted fairy tale azalea bush and the lighted fairy tale cobblestone walk way and the, well you get the idea. And we can put this on mugs, tshirts, rugs, tissue boxes, album covers, dog leashes, diapers, grocery sacks and the roof.

I think maybe Kinkade work has spores in it. Any surface that it touches or gets too close to suddenly starts glowing and then scenes out of a " The Dummy's Guide To Kitsch" suddenly burst forth like daffodils after a spring rain.


As an artist I can only say that Thomas Kinade art is as good an oxymoron as you are going to find, that is of course, apart from the morons who worship and purchase the assembly line paint by numbers he makes. And for Kinkade numbers is what it is all about.

Fr Martin Fox (Septimus)

I just want to say I don't particularly care about Mr. Kinkade's peccadillos.

And watch what you say about box wine!


This from a 2002 Spectator (UK) article:

For the first minute my eyes skittered across the surface of the painting, found no purchase and made an attempt to escape to an interesting-looking electric plug socket near the floor. Minute two I spent wondering why the lights are on in every one of the 26 visible windows. Kinkade, a great allegorist and devout Christian, would doubtless say that this symbolises God's welcoming love. Given that all nine of the rooftop chimneys are smoking, I suspect arson.

You know, Kinkade isn't my cup of tea, and it's easy stuff to make fun of, but it's really not very nice to call people who like it "morons". It's fair enough to say you personally find his work atrocious, it's more than fair to question the commerciality and greed behind the machine that is Thomas Kinkade, Inc., and it's certainly worth noting his creepy justification of what appears to be sexual harrassment, but calling people who may enjoy his products "morons" is pretty mean and unChristian.


In a recent Guardian article a Kinkade fan and gallery owner was quoted as saying "He's a modern day Leonardo da Vinci or Monet" - "Moron" is one of the kindest things one could say about someone capable of making such a statement.



Then I guess asshole is probably the kindest thing anyone could say about someone like you.


HAP, what is it about the truth that makes you so angry?

"It's really not very nice to call people who like it 'morons'." - Oh, cry me a river, HAP. If they can't handle being called "morons", then they shouldn't parade their artistic and aesthetic ignorance in prominent newpapers. There is simply no more appropriate word than "moron" for someone who, apparently in all seriousness and with a straight face, compares Kinkade to Leonardo or Monet.

Frankly, as an American, I find the fact that so many in this country apparently admire such worthless schlock "art" simply embarrassing. No wonder people around the world laugh at the taste and culture of Americans. They can't even distinguish an aesthetic joke like Kinkade from Leonardo or Monet!


The "truth"...? "Angry"...?

Don't hurt yourself by trying to read too much into what I said, hon...

I don't like people who label other people "morons" based on something as insignificant as their taste in home decor.

You can say Kinkade sucks all you want, you can say his materialism and greed suck, and you ought to say his attitudes about women suck.

But picking on someone who happens to like his stuff is just mean and petty. And unChristian.

And my original response wasn't to you, anyway. It was to someone who claims to be an artist and called people who, I guess, like Kinkade's stuff better than his "morons". Sounds like sour grapes to me.


Uh, Dennis, have you SEEN the crap (literal crap in certain cases) that passes for art in fashionable European circles today? Anybody over there laughing at American crassness has a little problem with motes and beams, I'm afraid.


Kitsch to end all kitsch. The Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, MO. Here's a photo album of somebody's 2002 trip to Branson which includes a stop at the chapel with great photos of the stained glass windows with Precious Moments-style Jesus, angels and bible stories. Scroll down half-way to see photos of almost all the windows and paintings on the walls (ala Sistine Chapel) and fountains with Precious Moments angels in the garden.


I don't get the Precious Moments thing, but try to not be too sniffy because my wonderful daughter-in-law loves and collects them.

Reminds me of the Keane kids with huge eyes exuding a single tear that some of my friends loved in the '60s.

Really, go look at the Precious Moments chapel - it's incredible. [You can also gawk at the tacky rest rooms at Branson theaters before you get down to the Chapel.]



Thanks for the link! Those were some of the most disturbing images I've ever seen. :-) However, in the "Life of Christ" section, I missed the Mocking, Flagellation and Deposition of Christ. Didn't see Christ and adulteress; or massacre of the innocents.


HAP says, "Really?

Then I guess asshole is probably the kindest thing anyone could say about someone like you."

by which he or she places in perspective the vantage point from which they made their previous judgements known.


As for my own comment I agree "moron" was less than charitable and I apologize.

As for "sour grapes", not at all. Good on Kinkade for a savvy business sense and being able to market his product so effectively.

As for opinion intoned while writing anonymously with false email addresses their is little accountability in that.

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