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How to Paint Like Thomas Kinkade

By November 27, 2008

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The question of how to paint like Thomas Kinkade comes up by email and on the Painting Forum every now and then. If you were wondering, well, now you can have it straight from the horse's mouth in the form of a list of 16 points to painting "The Thomas Kinkade Look" published on a Vanity Fair blog by someone who's obviously not a fan (scroll down a bit to find the list). These include:

  • Creating a "cozy look" by darkening the images towards the edges
  • Using a "color key" to create mood
  • Including hidden details
  • Using "dramatic sources of soft light" with "classic compositions"
  • Having a short focal length to create a center of interest and keep "mid-distance and distant" parts "blurry"
  • Focusing on the "concept of beauty" and getting rid of the "ugly parts", to have "a general sense of homespun simplicity"
  • Using atmospheric weather conditions, and nostalgia

It's certainly a recipe for success if you measure this in financial terms. According to The Art Law Blog Kinkade is making an "apparent attempt to establish broad intellectual property rights 'over a style and manner of painting and image-crafting'." What a commercially driven world we live in. Read more about this in Concurring Opinions: Copyright in Movie and Painting Styles?.

Painting Forum Discussions:
What is Thomas Kincaid's Secret of Success?
How Does Kincaid Achieve His "Bright Lights" Yellow?


December 4, 2008 at 12:09 pm
(1) Aaron says:

Sounds like sour grapes to me. I have been painting as along as I can remember. I have achieved a bachelors degree, and am prepairing to enter a Master of Fine Art degree program, and I continue to fight to be taken seriously as an artist. My crime you ask, being good at what i do, which indeed is a crime to much of the uppity art world. Maybe Thomas kinkade enjoys painting with bright powerful colors and painting warm english style countrysides because he likes it. Those who call them selfs artist but have no real talent need to get off his back, it’s not his fault he’s good.

May 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm
(2) chocolatebox says:

Kinkade works are amazing…he is very talented and i luv all of his paintings! I wish I cud learn from him, his style and technique…
Those who make hateful remarks r obviously jealous and envious of his talent and success….shame! shame!

September 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm
(3) Adrian says:

I read the VF article and just wanted to say a couple of things.
1. the list of 16″how-to’s” was written for the screen not for painting in general, it seems that he wanted his movie to more closely resemble his painting technique.
2. yes, he is a wonderful artist of light and color… I know I have seen many of his works…
with this said, I have to admit, though I envy his ability, I cannot bring myself to actually like Thomas Kinkade… perhaps it has something to do with the many rumors of his evergrowing ego…

October 21, 2011 at 12:13 am
(4) robert says:

The problem with Kinkade is his over-emphasis on fantasy. Some of his scenes are cartoon-like and are reminiscent of a Smurfs episode from the 80′s. His recent Indy-500 commemorative painting looked fake and computer-generated. Obviously this is attractive as evidenced by his huge sales numbers, but is this due to the quality of his work or the massive marketing efforts? I think a lot of artists are envious because he is as much a marketer as a painter, and most artists would agree on the difficulty of selling and marketing talent. Perhaps an article entitled, “How to Sell Like Kinkaide” would be in order?

February 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm
(5) KH says:

I have been an artist since age 3 but not committed and driven like Kicaid or other artists. Yet, I always looked down on his art as too, too exaggerated and commercial, mostly because I usually saw a less attractive version of it like the top of the jigsaw puzzle boxes my mother had. I saw a painting today on ebay that is obviously a copy of Kincaid’s whole style so I went to his website to see if it was actually from one of his paintings. I didn’t see it, but, looking more closely at his paintings, I found they were very appealing and didn’t seem overly colorful as to be impossile to find in nature. If you were a zealous gardener and had a lovely old home or cottage (they exist) and the day and light was just like it is sometimes when it really is incredible, you could possibly see scenes like he creates in his paintings. But, that doesn’t matter. Everyone has the right to create in their own way and make art that satisfies their need for expression. I also want to create an emotional connection when I paint, but, in a more subtle way. He is very good and the world loves his art, so, that should be enough. Why do people always think they need to criticize. If you don’t like it, don’t try to make yourself feel superior by criticizing it, just keep your negativity to yourself and don’t buy it. Why try to tear people down just because they have succeeded where so many of us never will?

February 21, 2012 at 5:58 am
(6) connieknoxville says:

Criticizing Kincaide because of the “fantasy” element of his paintings is like getting angry at the makers of tv shows like “Touched By an Angel”, and movies like “The Princess Diaries”, etc. Sometimes people just need a break from reality and enjoy being momentarily taken to a place that may not exist, but wish it did. If he’s tapped into a market that makes him successful, God bless him. Just realize that his art brings a lot of happiness to an awful lot of people, regardless of what type of man he may or may not be. I LOVE bring drawn into his paintings, and will search out his work intentionally because it simply makes me feel better when I see it. It calms me, it soothes me, it lifts my spirits. What, why, when, and how? I don’t care. It makes me happy. Thanks to you, Mr. Kincaide, for sharing your talent with the entire world. You didn’t have to, but I – and millions of others, thank you graciously.

March 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm
(7) Mary says:

Well, There’s nobody else quite like Thomas Kinkade…never will be…becuz there’s only the one God made! Yes, his paintings are fantastic and magical but he uses his gifts to inspire the rest of us ( as Van Gogh and Michealangelo as well as other artists past and present) to seek within ourselves the unique talent aged gave us…every artist has their own flair…seek your own…then you too can have a name for yourself…artwork that is originally inspired is artwork to be proud of and sell…Be Yourself…Find your own path…or create one for yoursel!

January 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm
(8) Tammy says:

@Robert… “the problem with Kinkade is his over-emphasis on fantasy.” PROBLEM?? Since when did fantasy or whimsy in artistic form become a problem? He’s an artist for God’s sake.

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