Thomas Kinkade wows crowd, raises money for charity
PRESCOTT - World-renowned artist Thomas Kinkade, "The Painter of Light," says he likes Prescott.
"I love your slogan, 'Everybody's Hometown,'" he said Sunday to applause and whistles from a standing-room-only crowd at the Elk's Opera House. Kinkade, who spells his first name "Thom," grew up in the small town of Placerville, Calif.
"I own two Kinkade's and I bought my third one today," Chino Valley resident Anne Walla said before the show. "I've never seen him in person. This is a real treat."
Walla was not alone with her excitement. Elk's Opera House
acting manager Dawn Castaneda estimated that more than 500 Kinkade fans crammed into the historic theater to meet him.
"I've got butterflies in my stomach," Dee Blaschke, owner of Prescott's Kinkade Signature Gallery, said before Kinkade's arrival. "I've never met him before."
Blaschke, her husband Randy Sisk, and gallery manager Ernie Migliorini started preparing for Kinkade's visit more than a month ago. Blaschke and a small army of volunteers lined the theater walls and aisles with Kinkade paintings.
"Kinkade is very particular about how you show his work," volunteer Dave Cooper said. "Each painting has to be on its own easel and have its own light."
To Kinkade fans, the words "light" and "Kinkade" are synonymous.
"Light attracts people," Kinkade said in an interview before going to the Elk's theater. "My passion is to share the light. People in our country need hope and joy."
Kinkade's paintings appear lit from within. Luminous light emanates from canvasses filled with his favorite themes - home, family, faith and God.
He dismisses critics that label his work "fine art."
"I'm an illustrator of people's dreams, I want to lift people up," he said. He grew up idolizing artist Norman Rockwell for his "hometown" scenes.
Kinkade creates the luminous light on his canvasses by painting his pictures in layers of color.
"I use layering, glazes and more glazes," he said before his appearance. "There are dozens of layers of paint in each painting."
While Kinkade talked to the audience about life and art, he sketched a scene of a cottage surrounded by trees - and offered the drawing for auction.
Kinkade fans Scott and Terri Rakestraw drove from Phoenix to meet the artist, and they left the owners of a Kinkade pencil sketch - for their high bid of $12,000.
The money goes to the Make-a-Wish-Foundation and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Yavapai County.
"We own about 30 of his paintings now," Scott said after winning the drawing. "But an original like this is one of a kind."
"I don't own any prints, but I think his work is phenomenal," said Denise McFadden of Prescott. She was satisfied with buying an autographed Kinkade book.
A novice fan may not notice the whimsical details that Kinkade paints in his art.
For example, "A Holiday Gathering," which shows a cheery winter scene somewhere in a small town, is full of Kinkade's favorite models.
"There is Norman Rockwell, his wife Nanette, Thom himself, and in tiny lettering
on the mailbox is the name of one of his daughters, Chandler," Kinkade staffer Jason McCall pointed out. "Nanette is in a lot of his paintings."
And if she is not,
the initial "N" for Nanette, is. A small number painted next
to Kinkade's signature on a painting, is the number of N's he painted into that particular picture. The fun is finding them.
"We got a Kinkade for a wedding present, but I never knew about the 'N's,'" Paulden resident Gwyn Barnick said.
Kinkade said he is "enamored with the clarity" of Arizona's light.
"If you see me painting along the side of the road, slow down," he said before leaving the stage. "Dust wreaks havoc on oil paints."