Thomas Kinkade, the "Painter of Light" died of natural causes on "Good Friday," April 6, 2012 at his home in California. The irony of the timing of his passing has inspired me to share with you a personal conversation I once had with Mr. Kinkade.
A week or two before I met him, I had read a magazine article on his work that made the claim that Kinkade was trying to reflect a utopian world. The author said that Kinkade wanted to demonstrate what life would be like if there had been no original sin, or no Fall.
If you think about it, you hardly ever see any tragedy in his work. It's all very lovely and picturesque.
So I asked him if that was an accurate reflection of his goal in creating Art; to show us what life might be life if sin had not entered the world. He paused for a moment, obviously considering if that was true. Then he said, "No, definitely not. In fact, the piece that I consider to be perhaps my most definitive work is 'The Cross.' If that isn't a reflection of sin entering the world, the fallenness of humanity, and our need for redemption, than I don't know what is!"
Once again he became thoughtful. "No, I think that every artist, within the body of their work, has a responsibility to reflect the world as it truly is; broken. However, as a Christian, I don't want to dwell on that brokenness. There are plenty of artists who do that, I'm not making judgments about their work. For me personally though, my desire is to give people a message of hope. You can see despair everywhere you look. If I am going to take the time to paint something, I want it to reflect beauty and give people hope."
His line about despair made me think of Dr. Francis Schaeffer, and his teachings about the Christian and artistic expression. I asked Kinkade if his work had been influenced by Dr. Schaeffer, and if so, in what way.
"Oh, most definitely. I'd say the thing that I gained the most from Dr. Schaeffer was the concept that beauty has value in itself; because it reflects the nature and character of God. Beauty is an inseparable part of God's nature; of who He is. So when you create Art that is beautiful, you are reflecting the nature of God."
I think it is ironic that Mr. Kinkade, whose pivotal artistic work was "The Cross," was able to enter a world that TRULY has no pain or suffering (a perfect world), on the day when we celebrate his Lord's payment for sin and death. I'm sure that he will be amazed to find his resting place to be far more beautiful than he could ever reflect in his paintings.