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ZOMG! Now I know where I am…!


We were driving around the countryside from garden center to garden center today, trying to find growing bags or strawberry plants or…some junk (I’m still unclear on the ‘gardening’ concept). One misty, flower-spangled leafy country lane after another. It was all very sparkly. Like the Ice-capades.

We drove through one tiny village and Uncle B said, “I think I counted six thatched rooves just then.” And then it dawned on me: I’m trapped in a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Y’all know this boo-boo, right? You should. He’s one of the most grinding self-promotional hustlers on the planet. Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light ®. He sells framed bubble-jet prints by mail, in dedicated Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery franchises and on the Home Shopping Channel for anything from hundreds to ten thousand dollars. For a print. To be fair, the really expensive ones are touched up with a bit of real oil paint by a registered detailologist. Or something.

I don’t hate Kinkade. His mixture of demonstrable technical competence, shit-awful taste, improbable Christian piety and rancid venality is…kind of…fascinating. Doing a Google images search this evening, I discovered he has moments of almost brilliance. And moments of such mindblowing gaudy crassness, it hurt like having my ass-bone broken and reset wrong.

I don’t know why the likes of Hallmark, Disney or the Salvation Army have anything to do with him. Well, I do — he claims to have pushed more than two billion-with-a-b dollars worth of merchandise. But he gives off a disastery vibe, if you ask me.

The FBI investigated him a few years ago for crippling his gallery franchisees with a combination of Jesus and strong-arm tactics. There have been allegations of heckling and groping and what Wikipedia called “his proclivity for ritual territory marking through urination, once relieving himself on a Winnie the Pooh figure at a Disney site while saying ‘This one’s for you, Walt’.”

See? How can you hate this guy?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 13, 2009, 8:07 pm

I swear, Badger House could have stepped RIGHT out of a Kinkade painting. Apparently, he lived in England for a few years, so there you go. As a palate cleanser, Something Awful takes him on here, here and here.

Comment from Allen
Time: May 13, 2009, 8:27 pm

That place looks awful familiar… But there wasn’t a house, just this beautiful copper kettle gleaming in the moonlight. Coming out of the top was a gleaming spiral of tubing that slowly dripped a sweet looking nectar into a jug…

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: May 13, 2009, 9:35 pm

Whaaaaaaaa? :-O


First Lileks disses Dali and now this. If I had any lingering doubts about the world going truly and irrevocably mad they have been completely shattered now. Words…fail. Even a facepalm cannot convey my dismay. I mean – come on THAT’S THOMAS KINKAID!!!

Comment from Matt
Time: May 13, 2009, 10:12 pm

As a pastor I personally consider him to be the living embodiment of everything wrong with American Christianity (overly-commercial, shallow and pompously mediocre). . 2000 years of some amazing art in the church and we get this guy. He couldn’t hold Rembrandt’s jock.

Comment from See-Dubya
Time: May 13, 2009, 10:29 pm

My line on Kinkade is that I don’t like him. But I usually love people who like Kinkade, and I usually dislike people who dislike the people who like Kinkade,

Comment from iamfelix
Time: May 13, 2009, 11:08 pm

I don’t mind people who like Kinkaid (to each his own), I just don’t like him – or his paintings. I love pastoral; I love bucolic; I love animals; I love flowers; I love religious iconography; I love old houses and cars; I love landscapes; I love seascapes … I love chiarogoddamscuro … I just. Don’t. Like. Him. I did, however, like this paragraph in his Wiki file:

In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion (“about six years ago”) Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting “Codpiece! Codpiece!” at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.[17] Dandois also said of Kinkade, “Thom would be fine, he would be drinking, and then all of a sudden, you couldn’t tell where the boundary was, and then he became very incoherent, and he would start cussing and doing a lot of weird stuff.”[17]

Now who wouldn’t like that?

And Stoaty gives some of the best verbal beat-downs evah. Couldn’t you, say, take over for some clown like Chris Matthews on his next vacation and thrash some liberals?

Comment from iamfelix
Time: May 13, 2009, 11:26 pm

Some of Kinkade’s (spelled it right this time) subject matter makes me think of Frederick Childe Hassam, except that I like Hassam.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 14, 2009, 11:24 am

Thanks for admitting that he hast talent and even sometimes near brilliance. I think Kinkaid is overexposed and his art is more commercial than artistic, but he’s clearly got a vision and he’s very good at producing it. There’s another artist from the past he actually reminds me of, someone who painted multiple layered glowing art that was very stylized and sometimes stilted but very commercially popular (and still is to this day): Maxfield Parrish.

Kinkaide’s vision is of a glowing otherwordly vision, a paradise where things are similar, but better, more beautiful, more lush and wonderful. He’s trying to paint paradise, a sin-free world. In the process it ends up looking more fantasy and Disney like you note, but the effort is laudable and he definitely has some skills.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: May 14, 2009, 1:04 pm

“..dedicated Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery franchises..”

When the giant shopping mall in Kent (Bluewater) first opened, in their horrible little wooden-framed kitsch annex for ‘mini shops’, there used to be an outlet selling these monstrosities. And only these.

I always hurried by very quickly…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 14, 2009, 1:18 pm

Maxfield Parrish is a great favorite of mine, Christopher. Though a great deal of what he did were acts of extraordinary mechanical patience. For example, he’d set up a “landscape” on a tabletop with rocks and a mirror and a little model house, photograph it, split the photograph into color layers (red, blue and green, I think), project each layer onto the canvas and painstakingly copy it in oil paint. That’s how he got that amazing jewel-like color…but, holy shit, what a method!

I kept trying to give Kinkade his due. He did some amazing stuff, technically. And he certainly has a vision. But I watched him give a ten-minute YouTube presentation on his latest work for Disney, Pinnochio Wishes on a Star, at the end of which I was more or less blind and diabetic.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 14, 2009, 4:52 pm

I think Kinkade uses much of the same technique to get that weird glowing effect, many layers of carefully designed paint. He says and others have argued what I did above, that he’s trying to paint paradise, what life would be like without sin and the curse, but I wonder if he’s not insane and sees the world that way. Sort of the Gahan Wilson school of paining.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 14, 2009, 4:54 pm

My only problem with Maxfield Parrish is that he seems to think that pretty young girls are essentially boys. Sort of disturbing stuff. at least he wasn’t like Paul Émile Chabas who seemed to specialize in painting barely-pubescent girls taking baths in lakes.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: May 14, 2009, 7:30 pm

Hey Weasel – what do you think of these new-fanlged giclèe prints they have these days? Are those what you were referring to when you wrote “bubblejet prints”?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 14, 2009, 7:43 pm

Yes, exactly, Enas. As far as I can tell, “giclee” is just a poncey French word for bubblejet. They are very good, and they can print on canvas and other things, which is neat. But when all’s said and done: bubblejet.

I was a printmaking major in school (among other things; I kind of joined the Major of the Month Club). I have a long-standing resentment of the misuse of the words “print” and “lithograph” in art sales. And “giclee” fits right into the pattern, seems to me.

Comment from Dawn
Time: May 14, 2009, 9:44 pm

What denomination is Pastor Matt? He sounds reformed, but I mistrust any pastor who hangs out here, my husband excluded.
Thomas Kincaid, yuck! Over-priced and tacky. Only the rainy street scenes minimally appeal to me.
I am a Renoir girl myself. I love his drab and messy style, but I also was depressed and moody for years, so that might explain my taste.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: May 14, 2009, 10:33 pm

Ah ok. I saw a bunch of giclee prints in a bunch of galleries in Sedona a few weeks ago. Quite honestly they looked gorgeous. I understand the basis of your opposition, but I have to ask if you feel the same way about photo emulsion serigraph prints? If not, why not?

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: May 14, 2009, 10:50 pm

If not, why not?

Well, I don’t know about the Weas, but if my prejudices had to be rational, I would be screwed, heh.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 15, 2009, 6:42 pm

Or just less of a woman (ducks)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 15, 2009, 6:52 pm

I don’t oppose them. <thinking>

I think a distinction needs to be drawn between prints that are “limited edition” because an arbitrary decision was made to stop printing them after a certain number and prints that are limited by the nature of the printing process. The ten thousandth giclee will look as good as the first, but the 100th copperplate etching will begin to show plate wear.

It’s an objection about valuation and rarity rather than the quality of the prints themselves. Or…no…it’s more about people understanding what terms mean.

Anyhow, there’s a local photographer who’s doing giclee prints on canvas that tempt me severely. I’d be more tempted, excepted that sort of clean, unframed canvas isn’t right for Badger House.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: May 15, 2009, 9:58 pm

Well, now I have an irrational prejudice against Christopher Taylor. *frowns at Christopher Taylor*

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