Thomas Kinkade makes a movie

Thomas Kinkade is making a movie, or has made a movie that will be released 11 November. An Art Bistro article on the film asks “Has Thomas Kinkade gone too far?” And when I told my office-mate that Kinkade was putting out a movie, his response was “Why?”

I responded by reminding him that Kinkade is a brand, and this is a natural extension of the marketing machine that is Kinkade Industries. Regardless of what you think of his paintings, novels or home designs you have to acknowledge that the guy can brand himself. While Kinkade’s paintings may not be bringing in multi-millions at high end galleries or auction houses, his empire and renown is arguably greater than that of any other living artist — in America to be certain. Undoubtedly, his name is recognized more widely than that of Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons or any other living artist I can think of.


The film is an autobiographical look at the point in Kinkade’s life when he realized he would become the “Painter of Light.” It boasts Academy Award nominees and winners and a well-known screenwriter. I’m interested in seeing the film on account of my interest in the arts, the lives of artists and how the masses respond to the arts.

As I’ve said before, I don’t fault Kinkade for his sugary subject matter. He can paint whatever he likes. However, his subjects seems to be a kind of psychological displacement based on articles and interviews I’ve read in the last ten years. It sounds to me like he’s repressing certain hurt feelings via his idyllic paintings. Further, I’m not fond of the marketing machine. Whereas I believe artists working in the plastic arts should be about the tactile nature of their craft, Kinkade’s machine turns the beauty and appeal of palpable works into mere phantoms.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

7 Responses to Thomas Kinkade makes a movie

  1. Tim J. says:

    It’s only Kinkade’s billing himself as “The Painter of Light” that rubs me the wrong way, as the light in his paintings almost always appears artificial, forced and (as you say) sugary. There are *always* dappled shadows on every path and a warm glow in every window. Blech.

    His work (at least, the work he is famous for) is – like I talked about in a post yesterday – too pretty to be beautiful.

  2. pNielsen says:

    Aye Tim.

    What’s really interesting is how many people warm to his blatantly idyllic scenes. What does this say about our culture? Are we escapists? Then again, who isn’t in some form or fashion. Is his work mere formula (Is this a dumb question? Yes.), appealing to the broadest kind of the American dream. What about others of us who have a dream other than suburbia and the flowering countryside?

  3. Tim J. says:

    I truly have no problem with the blatantly idyllic, but his popular work simply falls short even of that. It is not even sweet, but saccharin. Idyllic works can be very powerful.

    I don’t know that Kinkade rises to the level of escapism. Fairy tales are escapism, but they still always have that element of danger or struggle. There remains in them some of what C.S. Lewis called “blood and sap… the tree of life and the tree of knowledge growing together”.

    Kinkade’s work is spiritual Novocaine.

    I saw a few of his plein-air paintings (originals) on display once, and they weren’t bad. He has potential, if he’d work at it.

    Same as me, I suppose!

  4. pNielsen says:

    I’ve seen some of his earlier stuff in books andit’s much more interesting (not a euphemism). Something is there, some potential there that the marketing genius is suppressing? And I don’t really have problems with the idyllic side either, but I find his popularity very interesting . . .

  5. Julie says:

    All the above commenters have said it better than me… I don’t care for Kinkade’s work. To me it is forced, it lacks beauty. Too pretty to be beautiful – well said. It seems like in following a formula, the spirit is lost.

    I’m not familiar with his earlier work, or his original work, but am willing to entertain it.

    Re your comment, Paul, asking about our society… many people have lost the ability to recognise beauty. Or truth.

    Speaking of people who’ve made themselves into a brand – will you do a post on Dale Chihuly next?

  6. pNielsen says:

    Ah, Mr. Chihuly! I actually like Chihuly’s work (installations)but he gets a lot of flack. I haven’t read nearly as much on him as I have Kinkade so I can’t really speak to it. I’ve seen a number of Chihuly’s “originals” though.

    I’ve posted on Chihuly in the past . . . let me see if I can dig it up . . . looks like three posts mention him, but nothing in depth:

  7. Paul S. says:

    A lionsgate production…hm, why is that not surprising?

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