Thomas Kinkade is a world renowned artist and is most well known for his idyllic landscapes, pastoral images, and light-filled cottages. Kinkade is one of the most collected American artist of our time. But there’s more to Kinkade’s art than meet the public eye. Besides the works published through his publishing company, Kinkade kept many works of varying styles from his early career private. 

Kinkade’s story is complicated. He used his prodigious artistic ability to survive a difficult childhood, and developed into an internationally acclaimed painter who touched the hearts of people all over the world. A man of deep faith, limitless hope and selfless charity, his goal as an artist was to bring peace and joy to the world through the images he created. Unfortunately, he was not always able to realize that goal for himself.

As he gained fame as "The Painter of Light," he also struggled with darkness, and his life did not always reflect the peace and serenity of the images he created. Pressures and insecurities drove his story as much as his talent did. Kinkade passed from addiction to alcohol at the age of 54.


Since Kinkade was a young boy, he saw his artistic talent as a gift. He understood he could use that gift to make life better. Sometimes that meant selling paintings on the street to provide a few dollars to help feed his struggling family. Other times it was drawing an embellished caricature of a teacher to make his classmate giggle. Kinkade simply wanted others to appreciate art as much as he did.

Kinkade's drive to share his art with others can be seen clearly throughout his career. He believed art should be accessible to people of all walks of life, not only to those who could afford an original oil painting. This inspired him to produce lithographs and licensed products in order to reach a greater audience. Kinkade’s intention was to portray themes of family, hope, and love to deliver a positive, uplifting message to the world.

But that was not enough. His strong desire to help those in need led him to partner with various nonprofit organizations over the years, and his philanthropic work raised millions of dollars and benefited hundreds of thousands of people in need.  


When Kinkade and his family visited Guatemala in 1999, they saw first-hand the poverty and hardships that thousands of families were enduring. In response, Thomas and Nanette Kinkade partnered with World Vision to help the local people. Kinkade painted Bridge of Faith, and the Thomas Kinkade network sold open edition prints, raising enough money to support 85,000 children and to build a daycare and medical center in Guatemala.


After the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001, Kinkade painted The Light of Freedom and The Season of Giving in a heart-felt effort to help. The Thomas Kinkade Company donated the proceeds from these two pieces to the Salvation Army’s Ground Zero Relief Fund. With the sale of these paintings, the project raised $2 million for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

Shortly after, Kinkade was nominated to be the 2003 and 2004 national spokesman for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and sales of his art raised more than $750,000 for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Humanitarian work was often a family affair. In the summer of 2004, Thomas, Nanette, Merritt and Chandler Kinkade spent a week in Latvia at the invitation of Bridge Builders International (BBI). While there, Thomas Kinkade painted Sunset Over Riga, and the donated prints helped BBI raise funds for several years. In addition, the family sponsored the BBI Thomas Kinkade Art Camp. The Kinkade family continues to support this community to this day.


In 2005, Kinkade was appointed an Ambassador of Light for the Points of Light Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging Americans more effectively in volunteer service to help solve serious social problems. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Kinkade’s art sales raised $600,000 for families who had lost their homes and loved ones in this disaster. Over a two-year period, Kinkade’s efforts raised $1 million for the Points of Light Foundation and the local community charities it supported.

This is the legacy The Kinkade Family Foundation is advancing.



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