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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?