Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light Dies in the Dark

I just love the art of Thomas Kinkade. Do you? My favorite greeting cards are graced by his pictures.I have one of his commemorative tea cup and saucer sets.His cottages and gardens are the subject of our bathroom wallpaper border,

and we own his semi-autobiographical movie telling the wonderful story of how he and his brother struggled to help save their mother’s home. (2008 with Peter O’Toole— a truly inspiring family video for the Christmas season.)Although Thomas Kinkade created some 1,000 major paintings, perhaps his pinnacle work was done in 2010: The Cross, a huge mural adorning the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina. (If you have time for a short video of Kinkade unveiling his work, you can see it at: According to Wikipedia, Kinkade was purported to be America’s “most collected living artist” before his death on Good Friday, just three weeks ago. It is estimated that one in every 20 homes in America has some of his artwork in some form. If I were fabulously wealthy and collected art, I’m sure I would try to buy one (or more) of his paintings!    Instead, we’ve collected many of his beautiful works in the form of puzzles.But, here is the real puzzle for me. How could someone who was faithfully married for thirty years and was quoted in the Wall St. Journal as saying, “When I was saved, my art got saved,” and “My paintings are messengers of God’s love”…how could someone who was doing so well fall from the heights of glorious light into such a pit of blackness?


What happened? Apparently he got side-tracked into an affair a year and a half ago and died at age 54 “after a night of heavy drinking.” What a tragic end to a most inspirational life! 😦Wall Street‘s article was entitled “Art in a Fallen World.” How sad, and how true. As I puzzle over the heartbreaking conclusion of Kinkade’s life, and the thought that the entire world has lost perhaps 20-30 years of his genius, I grieve. However, I also take comfort in some of the things he said: “The light that is in my paintings is His love, and it has nothing to do with me.”  “Don’t mistake the message for the messenger, just look to God.”

So, how to keep from coming to an ignominious end? As Kinkade said, “Keep pouring passion into the product.” But, we have to keep God himself as the focus for our passion, not wine, women, and wealth…not power and prestige or fame and glory. We’re never immune from temptation and never too old to fail. I think somehow the key must be in humility… in learning to submit daily to the Holy Spirit’s leading as He teaches us to walk in the Light of His presence: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into  subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

15 thoughts on “Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light Dies in the Dark

  1. It seems like the Lord took him quickly home after his fall. Probably a true believer and a sinner. The Lord had to shorten his life for he was destroying it. And yet, I believe he will be remembered for his good work, and not his blunders at the end of it. Hugs.

    1. Me too, Jena! It’s scary to see someone I admired so much fall so far so fast, but salvation is by grace, not by works at any rate. May he be remembered for the many wonderful things he did do…may they not be just “interred with his bones.”

    1. Me neither! I was in Hawaii at the time and probably never would have known, except the article was written on one of the sheets of the Wall St. Journal that Uncle Alan used to try to block out the robin who was flying at our window, and I was intrigued by the title “Art in a Fallen World.” I debated not mentioning anything, lest I be spreading “gossip,” but I thought perhaps many people were more or less aware, and it was such a striking “beware” sort of moment, like it could happen to any of us if we think we’re too old to be vulnerable.

  2. Just had to say that this little blog about Kinkade was done quite well. I suppose I was looking to see if anyone had more insight into whether TK was in fact a true believer. I often would discuss him with my Mom when witnessing to her and now, well, it makes it more difficult. Although it does provide a critical point of the fact that we are saved by grace, and are still sinners. It’s more than just the “legal” aspects, although we certainly strive to be perfect as we hate it when we fail!

    1. I appreciate your comments and agree whole-heartedly with you. We’re saved by grace, feel awful when we fail…and yet, we can still choose to do good or evil our entire lives…and don’t always make the right choices. I look forward to being like Christ when we are with him in heaven! 🙂

      1. Yes, for then we will SEE Him! fyi good book I am currently reading on Heaven: Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. Wonderful piece of work with scriptural basis demonstrating how heaven will be very much like Earth we know now, but without sin and living with God.

  3. I’ve heard of that one but not read it yet. I’ll look for it. Have you ever read “Heaven is a Place on Earth” by Michael Wittmer? I found that one very provocative, but in a good way.

  4. Thanks I will look it up! Alcorn states that his primary interest is in attempting to put together the pieces of how the Bible describes Heaven, and that he read 150 other books on Heaven to understand other perspectives etc. I do see his book taking some liberties at times it seems, i.e. without specific scriptual references, but his main focus is on the Word of God. I suppose I have found the greatest benefit being better able to look forward to Heaven! Which should be a huge plus to living out the Christian life here and now!

      1. No, but my husband used to be in a medical practice with a Bruce K. Well, very glad to meet you, Bruce H!

      2. Well thank you. Glad to meet you as well. Ahh, just looking at those Kinkade paintings above – I really love his work. Going to look into that cottage wallpaper border 🙂

      3. Are you in the service? I have a son in S. Korea with the army so have a special heart for the sacrifices of our service men. Shall I add you to my prayer list?

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