Painter Thomas Kinkade Has Died

Thomas Kinkade with his paintings
Thomas Kinkade, the popular painter, has died. He was 54.

Said to be one of America”s most collected living artists, Kinkade was known for his distinctively sentimental, often religiously-themed landscapes.

Though heavily criticized in the art world for his style – which bordered on kitsch – Kinkade produced a body of work that was estimated to fetch an average of $100 million in sales each year.

The self-described “painter of light” – who likened himself to Walt Disney and his hero, Norman Rockwell, in his desire to make people happy – died Friday at home in Los Gatos, Calif., outside San Francisco, of what appeared to be natural causes.

A devout Christian, Kinkade often painted scenes from the Bible. In 2002 he told the San Mercury News he was a “warrior of light.”

“With whatever talent and resources I have, I”m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel, he said. Kinkade also frequently hid the names of his wife and four daughters in his work.

“Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,” his wife Nanette told the AP Saturday in a statement. “We are shocked and saddened by his death.”