Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Painter Of Light ... And Cotton Candy...

Vincent van Gogh was one of the most wonderful artists who ever lived, and yet during his lifetime not one of his paintings sold. He died thinking he was a failure, but, in March of 1990, van Gogh's masterpiece Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for $144 million dollars. Van Gogh would have been speechless. On the other hand, the late Thomas Kinkade sold so many paintings during his lifetime, he had outlets in malls in order for people to purchase his work. I am not a fan of Thomas Kinkade's style. It has often been referred to as kitsch, or illustration rather than art.  There is no doubt Thomas Kinkade was a talented painter, but his art is too sentimental for my taste.  It's sort of like that big stick of cotton candy we buy at the fair.  The first bite is so sweet we are inclined to throw the rest into the waste paper basket.  But we keep eating it because, well, sugar tastes good.

And so, we keep gazing at the overly-idealized paintings of Thomas Kinkade, thinking how peaceful it would be to live in one of his cabins by a lake.  I live in the city, and in the summertime the noise starts to get to me.  Last night my upstairs neighbour was having her decks power washed at 7:30 at night.  Who power washes their decks on a Friday night?  It went on for three hours, and power washers are right up there with jack hammers for noise decibels.  I told my friend Russell I would love nothing better than to be living in a Thomas Kinkade cabin beside a river, just for a little while.  Oh, the tranquility.  And that is the problem with a Kinkade painting.  There is no edge, no yin and yang, no tangy and sweet.  They're all just sugar.  And, like the cotton candy, too much sugar can become nauseating very quickly.

I was surprised to come across this painting by Thomas Kinkade. It is a work in progress, and it is Graceland, Elvis Presley's home in Memphis.  Except for the blazing inferno inside the house, it doesn't look like a Thomas Kinkade painting at all, but more like an Edward Hopper.  The lines are clean, the light and shadow on the lawn is dramatic and not overly sentimental.  Kinkade has done other paintings of Graceland, and they look like Christmas card covers, but there is something about this painting that has an edge to it.  It evokes the feeling of the abandoned, haunted house that comes alive once a year and the ghosts inside are celebrating with a night of merry-making.  Perhaps Elvis and his Memphis Mafia are entertaining their friends.  Tomorrow the windows will go dark again, and the house will sleep.  I haven't seen the finished product of this work in progress, but I hope Kinkade stopped here.  To me, this painting shows that he actually was a talented painter.  He passed away too soon, and it might have been interesting to see if the *painter of light* had a dark side.  Those paintings might have been his masterpieces.

13 comments:

Linda said...

Hey, Jo,
I for one, do like the Thomas Kincade paintings. They to make you feel peaceful. We have a huge Van Gogh painting in the next town over. I think it is a replica of the sunflower.

We live in the country. We hear the train, and then the tractors, etc, but no power washing of decks at night. Our neighbor power washes his tractors and combines every day he uses them. His machinery is cleaner than my car!

Judy (kenju) said...

I agree with you about his style of painting. It is calendar art to me (and many more).

Alicia said...

Sometimes sugar is good just for the sake that it's sugar...but since we don't want to go into a diabetic coma sometimes sugar in a Kinkade painting is perfect.

L. D. Burgus said...

I have always admired Kincaide for sticking to his style. Redlin was also called the painter of life and both artists sure did put out a lot of work.

heartinsanfrancisco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
heartinsanfrancisco said...

I admit, I have always thought of Kinkade as "The Painter of Blight."

The paintings on your post are pretty illustrations, in my view. Just not my cup of tea, I'm afraid. But you have to admire someone who works so hard at something and becomes wildly successful.

the walking man said...

I have to agree with you. If I were a Christmas card sender maybe...but for coloring illumination, I'll take F.E. Church every time.

Russell said...

We all have our individual tastes. I do confess, however, I could never look at a Kincade print for more htan a few seconds without wanting to vomit.

I recently took some pictures in to be developed. They were of an empty room and I had several images developed in black and white.

A man stepped over to me and said "do you realize that room in your photos is .... empty?" Heh!

I said I did actually realize the room was ... empty.

Then he suggested I take pictures of colorful flowers. I suggested HE take pictures of flowers if HE liked flowers. I would take pictures of empty rooms, thank you very much. Heh!

Oh well .... but that's the beauty of art, isn't it? It is certainly not one size fits all.

But, yes, please spare me the Kincade prints.

SparkleFarkle said...

"There is no doubt Thomas Kinkade was a talented painter, but his art is too sentimental for my taste."

Here's the thing of it, at least for me: Art appreciator that I claim to be, I never thought I'd be admitting this out loud (or as loud as it gets when one is giving their two cents in a blog comment box) but the times are many when Thomas Kinkade's paintings are the only cure. Yes, when life has landed me a blazing bag of dog poo on my porch, giving me no choice but to stamp it out, so, then, I just want to "go home, again" but can't, I teleport (<--for lack of a better word) into a Kinkadepiece. As embarrassingly shopping-mall-arty his works may be, you got to know your medicine and when to take it. And ingesting this sort of pill draws less attention to you than curling up in a fetal position at the drop of a hat.

Sextant said...

The Wikpedia article would suggest Kindkade's personal life and business practices were not always as sugary as his paintings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Kinkade

Looking at his paintings always struck me like walking into the little girl's clothing department a Wallmart...an assault on one's retina.

Paula Slade said...

Interesting to see a darker side of Kinkade emerge in that painting.

JeannetteLS said...

Ah, Sextant, you touched on what I have read about Kincaide, too. I do have a problem with calling someone we don't care for "just" an illustrator. I think Norman Rockwell was an artist who chose illustration. His work is not what I want particularly, but I appreciate him as I personally don't appreciate Kincaide. There is complexity and what I see as artistic intent in many of Rockwell's things, and I have always been confused as to whether there was inspiration behind Kincaide's work.

Interesting to discuss, but as several pointed out, it's a fine thing that there are artists out there to suit all tastes. Rembrandt, for me, will ALWAYS be the painter of light. What he could do around his portraits, in the skin, the eyes...

Never mind. Loved this entry. Jo, you always make me think, or look at something with and through fresh eyes.

Susanne said...

Hello, I have a small picture like the one you have posted. The cabin with a red canoe and dog sitting next to it. Do you know the name of the painting?

thank you
susanne