The Start of Thomas Kinkade

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Thomas Kinkade was born on January 19, 1958 in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in Placerville, California. At the age of five, Kinkade’s parents divorced, and he recalls being one of the only single-parent families in his small town.  He grew up living modestly, incapable of affording some of the simple pleasures that other families in town were accustomed to.

Kinkade began drawing at the tender age of four, and his talent for the arts was noticed early on. His mother always had copies of The Saturday Evening Post lying around, and he credits Norman Rockwell as one of his primary inspirations. At 16, he took on an apprenticeship under the instruction of artist Glen Wessels where he worked exclusively with oil paintings. Kinkade attended the University of California at Berkeley and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California to further his study of art.

After graduation, Kinkade and James Gurney, a friend and fellow artist from college, embarked on a cross-country boxcar trip from California to New York. Along the way, the two artists created several sketches of expanses of the American landscape they witnessed on their journey. Once they arrived in New York, Kinkade and Gurney took their sketches to Norman Rockwell’s publisher Wapton Guptill, who hired them on the spot to create a book for artists about sketching.  Two years later in 1982, Guptill published “The Artist’s Guide to Sketching.”

The success of the book secured both Thomas Kinkade and James Gurney a job with Ralph Bakshi Studios producing background art for “Fire and Ice”, an animated feature film. Kinkade credits this work experience with having an invaluable effect on the way he incorporates light into his paintings.

Who influenced you when you were young?


Sources: Wikipedia, Art by Thomas Kinkade

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11 Responses to “The Start of Thomas Kinkade”

  1. Rachel 23. Oct, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    When I was young I was influenced and learned a lot from my grandma!

  2. Angie 23. Oct, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I’ve been painting since I was 6. My inspiration comes from my passion for nature and ability I have to see things in nature that others don’t. My grandma taught me to see things through different eyes. God made a a wonderfully beauiful world to paint.

  3. colleen elder 23. Oct, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    my inspiration comes from the beauty of nature, especially the fall with all the wonderful colors.

  4. Keith 23. Oct, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    My childhood influences were Helen K., Emma H., Fred H., & Robert L… Peace!

  5. Peggy Miller 23. Oct, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    This year, I took my first one-day painting class. We did rouge painting of a Mill in Cades Cove, Tennessee. I almost gave up halfway through the class, but I was amazed when I completed the piece and am so proud of how it turned out, and the instructor framed and matted it for me. I’m looking forward to doing some more artwork in the near future. I’ve always enjoyed photography and taking pictures, but never new what I could do with a paintbrush!

  6. Susie 24. Oct, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Nothing is more humbling than nature in all of its costumes(seasons). Seeing what others have accomplished keeps me motivated. My attempts are feeble at best, but I keep trying.

  7. Wendy Solowiejko 25. Oct, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    William “Billy” Gallegos – one of the 52 hostages held in Iran many years ago is my inspiration for becoming a Paramedic on a 911 response ambulance.

    I grew up in the well-known small mountain of Estes Park, Colorado. When I was in 6th grade I won a contest by choosing the theme of the local Springtime parade. My prize was to ride alongside the parade marshall on the back of a convertable. The parade marshall happend to be Billy Gallegos, he had just been freed from captivity a month prior.

    I wore my best cowgirl outfit with straw Stetson hat and all. Billy was larger than life in his white pressed military uniform. He was so put together, so polite and so brave-looking. As we descended down a winding steep road towards the parade start, I almost slid right off the back of that shiny convertable. Just as I thought my face was about to meet pavement, Billy’s strong arm grabbed a hold of my arm and he pulled me back into the car. It was just a reaction for him, he simply smiled and said “hold on.”. For me, he saved my life and the rest of my adult life has been spent saving others.

  8. Trinity Faucett 28. Oct, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    My grandparents had a major influence on my values and interests. I was very lucky to live close to both sets of my grandparents and that they all lived until after I gave birth to my three children. My mother’s mom is still alive and has lived a most inspirational life. After a difficult childhood, she quit school at 8th grade to get married and raise seven children. In her early 30′s, she went back to school to earn her high school diploma, Bachelors, and Master’s degree in education. I was young but remember going to her graduation ceremony. She taught for almost 25 years to special needs students. She has taught me that there is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it. You can imagine it is hard to look at her and tell her that you are having hard time getting through something. Her most repeated saying to me: “to whom much is given, much is required’.

  9. Shelley Yukers 29. Oct, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    I have been drawing on paper since I was 3. Growing up my grandmother taught me oil painting, when she allowed me to use her media, we never got along much, however she was somewhat of an inspiration in art. I learned from her yet wasn’t inspired by her malicious ways toward me. She would tell my father I didn’t belong to him….
    I wasn’t supported by my family in my art except through my granny on my mother’s side. She has been a true inspiration in my life and the clay pit in her back yard inspired me to sculpt as a little girl. When I was a young adult, I remember seeing Thomas Kinkade on TBN and they were calling him the painter of light. He told stories about his girls and his wife and how he put their initials in his paintings. His paintings are beautiful and amazing including God in them, the one who truly gave Mr. Kinkade his gift. That truly inspired me! He was painting for God and that is exactly what I wanted to do!

  10. Alec Tusing 11. Nov, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    And people wonder why I left the US for my PhD- no one back home believes my building is closed on Sundays and you can’t go in!


  1. Thomas Kinkades Studio - 19. Dec, 2012

    [...] The Start of Thomas Kinkade | The Daily Grid The success of the book secured both Thomas Kinkade and James Gurney a job with Ralph Bakshi Studios producing background art for “Fire and Ice” an animated feature film. Kinkade credits this work experience with . [...]

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