On January 19, 1958, Kinkade entered the world in Sacramento, California. Later raised by his mother after his parents divorced, Kinkade grew up in Placerville, California. His artistic abilities impressed people and gave him a sense of pride and accomplishment. Mentored during his young years, Kinkade followed the advice of one mentor and attended the University of California, Berkley, on a scholarship. He later dropped out and attended Art Center College of Design where he made friends with illustrator James Gurney. The two spent a summer touring and sketching together and afterwards produced the book Artist's Guide to Sketching. This successful adventure landed both men the job of creating background art for the animated movie Fire and Ice.
Work on the film gave Kinkade the opportunity to dabble with the effects of light in paintings. From Hollywood back home to Placerville, Kinkade continued painting. He married his high school friend Nanette, and when he produced one thousand prints of a painting Placerville—1916 and they all sold out, Kinkade knew he had found a way to appeal to the vast public. Life in a simpler, more idyllic and serene time seemed to give people peace, and they bought his prints from local galleries. Kinkade and partner Ken Raasch opened their art business, Lighthouse Publishing, out of Kinkade's garage. Their company flourished as Kinkade made his prints available to a wider market, so Media Arts Group bought the business in 1996. Kinkade has since invested more into the company and reclaimed it as Thomas Kinkade Company. With the stresses to the economy, people began to buy fewer Kinkade products, so he turned to other venues.
With writer Katherine Spencer, Kinkade co-authored the Cape Light series, and with Erika Tamar he co-wrote the Girls of Lighthouse Lane series. Deeply religious, Kinkade has also had published numerous books depicting his art along with words of goodness and Christian faith. His Christian self-help book entitled Lightposts for Living co-authored by Anne Christian Buchanan was a bestseller. Alpha Omega Publications distributes the Lifepac: Drawing Basics with Thomas Kinkade for home schoolers and parents who want to teach their children art. A homeschooling father himself, Kinkade has helped his wife home teach their four daughters.
Kinkade's love of art and children has led to several charitable opportunities. He produced two paintings for the Salvation Army to raise money to help families in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. He's also served as the spokesman for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Thomas Kinkade Foundation supports various nonprofit organizations to benefit children, the arts, and humanitarian relief.
An award-winning artist, Kinkade lives and paints from his home in California. He also travels widely, sharing his faith and selling his paintings.
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