Okay, I admit it: It’s sour grapes. One-hundred percent fluorescent green envy. I wish I was him with every fiber of my being, sour of the sourest grapes!
Thomas Kinkade, “Painter of Light,” or whatever he called himself, is dead at 54. I am sorry for his family, he was taken too early and I wish them well.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I was not a fan of his work. You see, I’m a painter too — one of those starving painters who sell a picture only once in a blue moon and who has to split the spoils 50 / 50 with the gallery owner.
I will never say that I am a better painter than he – that’s ridiculous! Painters belong to an elite kind of dysfunctional, antisocial social club. We all know just how difficult it is to paint – anything! I have no doubt that Mr. K was as sincere and true to himself as I try to be, but, he jumped on too many bandwagons: The Christian angle. The Disney cartel. The warm and fuzzy factor: the notion that art is somehow supposed to be calming and tranquil, like Prozac administered through the optic nerves. You don’t take art to settle you down – art is supposed to make you nervous, uneasy, and, at its best, even nauseous. Art isn’t basket weaving – okay, basket weaving is an art but …
The last few days I’ve been reading about this “Painter of Light.” Turns out he came from very humble beginnings and as a young man rode the rails with a friend sketching the American landscape from a boxcar as it posed for him like a model in a studio — like one of those high-falootin’ artists he must have read about when he was a kid, turning the Herculean pages of those big art books in the library and staring at those glossy reprints. Like … me.
Turns out he was a complicated man as well. There are stories, unsubstantiated, about his extra curricular activities. I won’t mention them here, but save it to say that Mr. K, unlike his paintings, was, indeed, a colorful and interesting man.
Wherever you are, Tommy Boy, let me raise my glass to you, a fellow painter. Here’s to you, and all you’ve accomplished over your short life – BUT!
Here’s to that young kid in the boxcar, and that man who was known to, if not bite, then gnaw at the hand that fed him. And here’s to the paintings that man might have painted.