As I find myself writing this post I’m deeply saddened at not only the death of Thomas Kinkade but even more so at the lack of respect shown him on Facebook over the past couple of days. Though I haven’t read any blogs about his death I’m sure there’s some pretty distasteful blog posts as well.
I worked for Thom’s company for 10 years. I’m not here to comment on the work he became known for, I can’t say that I’m a fan of that particular genre. I believe Thom spent much of his time wanting the respect of other artists. He spent a lot of time in art rich Carmel, he even owned a home there. I know for a fact he visited many galleries in town to see what was new, perhaps even be inspired, he appreciated good art. He even took the time to visit my gallery, New Masters, to see my work and comment on it to the people working there, he always had good things to say. I’m sure it anguished him to know that so many painters had little to no respect for him, for what ever reason. Many people disliked him for what they would consider the commercialization of his work, or maybe they just didn’t like the quiant little cottages with all the lights on or maybe, dare I say, envious of a man who got to paint for a living and make a very good living doing so. Isn’t that what many of us want, to make a living doing what we love, doing what we dreamed of since we first had a crayon in our hands? Who gets to the draw the line and say when something has become “commercialized”? I certainly don’t want to. I feel very blessed doing what I get do for a living, am I commercial simply because I’m making a living selling my art? Are you?
I’ve had the chance to visit Thom’s studio in Monte Sereno, CA on a number of occasions. I can tell you, again, that the man appreciated good art. He had an original Thomas Hill and Albert Bierstadt along with many others hanging in his studio. It was like walking into a museum. He appreciated good art. He was also a very good painter. Some of you might find that surprising, I did. Most of us are only familiar with what made him famous; cute cottages, lighthouses and idyllic scenes that seemed to capture a simpler time. I had the chance to see another side of Thom the artist, a side very few have seen. There were paintings around his studio, his paintings, that were beautifully painted. They were “painterly”. His plein air work was very well done, big juicy stokes of paint layed down with confidence. Studio paintings that anyone would enjoy just sitting in front of for awhile. Thom was a very good painter and he simply wanted his fellow artists to see that. But we were too blind. We couldn’t see past the cute cottages, past the corporation, past his sins, or maybe past our own envy, to see a man and an artist that simply wanted respect.
For years I was very careful about how people found out that I worked for Thomas Kinkade. What would they think of me? Would they think less of my work? For that I’m truly sorry. Thom supported my family for 10 years and many other families as well. I can’t say that all my years there were good, they weren’t. The last 5 years I was miserable. God used those years to get me to where I am today. I am very appreciative to Thom for giving me the chance to work for his company. To visit his Studio. I even had the opportunity to paint with him at Point Lobos near Carmel many years ago.
I guess what I want to say the most is that Thom was a human being, a son, a father, a husband, a friend. I’m not here to say he did any of those things perfectly, he didn’t. He was simply another broken human being just like the rest of us, just like me. I’m very grateful that my mistakes, my sins aren’t written up in all the newspapers for all to read, aren’t you? His were. Lets remember this before we write some snide or “funny” remark on Facebook or our blogs. Let’s remember a human being lost his life. A mother lost a son, a wife lost her husband, a few kids lost their dad and many people people lost a friend. You may not like his art, you have that right but lets respect the life of another human being, let’s take the high road.
I hope and pray that Thom gets the respect he so longed for one day, he has mine.