Thomas Kinkade calls himself The Painter Of Light, although a more accurate descriptor would be The Painter Of Those Giant, Schmaltzy Prints People Hang Behind Their Sofas. Kinkade's subjects always look as if they were painted from the reflection in God's smiling eyes, rather than from life. Everything is always magical, and soft, and vague, and suffused with a heavenly glow. Even Nascar:
In short, if you replaced Kinkade's paints with Velveeta, no one would be able to tell the difference.
Kinkade is the Josh Groban of artists–or rather, Groban is the Thomas Kinkade of music–which is to say that they're both uber-cheesy, free of any kind of vision besides "Let's just make this pleasant," and beloved by moms and QVC shoppers. Naturally, they're both wildly popular. Actually, Groban seems to have at least some sense of humor about his popularity and his music–whereas Kinkade clearly does not. In truth, Kinkcade's paintings are more like visual muzak.
Recently, Kinkcade branched out from producing paintings that will eventually end up on night lights or other generic gifts for grandmas, to making movies with the (straight-to-DVD) release of Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage. Vanity Fair dug up a list of sixteen guidelines Kinkcade gave the movie's director and crew in order to achieve "the Thomas Kinkade Look." In case you're wondering, yes, sixteen guidelines is way too many when the Thomas Kinkade look can be summed up with just one sentence: "Make everything look as if God just cried tears of joy over it."
A few highlights:
11) Hidden spaces. My paintings always feature trails that dissolve into mysterious areas, patches of light that lead the eye around corners, pathways, open gates, etc. The more we can feature these devices to lead the eye into mysterious spaces, the better.
12) Surprise details. Suggest a few "inside references" that are unique to this production. Small details that I can mention in interviews that stimulate second or third viewings -- for example, a "teddy bear mascot" for the movie that appears occasionally in shots. This is a fun process to pursue, and most movies I'm aware of normally have hidden "inside references". In the realm of fine art we refer to this as "second reading, third reading, etc."
14) The concept of beauty. I get rid of the "ugly parts" in my paintings. It would be nice to utilize this concept as much as possible. Favor shots that feature older buildings, ramshackle, careworn structures and vehicles, and a general sense of homespun simplicity and reliance on beautiful settings.
15) Nostalgia. My paintings routinely blend timeframes. This is not only okay, but tends to create a more timeless look. Vintage cars (30's, 40's, 50's, 60's etc) can be featured along with 70's era cars. Older buildings are favorable. Avoid anything that looks contemporary -- shopping centers, contemporary storefronts, etc. Also, I prefer to avoid anything that is shiny...
A movie full of roads that go nowhere, homespun quilts thrown over "ugly parts" (which I think is code for "contemporary life"), dusty vintage cars from every era, and surprise teddy bears around every corner. That's the Thomas Kinkade look! It would be simpler to say, "Shoot everything through a schmaltz lens." But Kinkade saved the best guideline for last:
16) Most important concept of all -- THE CONCEPT OF LOVE. Perhaps we could make large posters that simply say "Love this movie" and post them about. I pour a lot of love into each painting, and sense that our crew has a genuine affection for this project. This starts with Michael Campus as a Director who feels great love towards this project, and should filter down through the ranks. Remember: "Every scene is the best scene."
Can't forget the love! Instead of the inspirational posters why not just give each of the crew members a bag of Love (actually glitter) to sprinkle on themselves when they're working 18 hour days to try and make generic powder room prints come to life? Or you could give each of the crew members a gun loaded with Love (actually bullets), and see how long it takes for one of them to point that love at Thomas Kinkade?
Here's the trailer. Sadly, it doesn't contain any surprise teddy bears–unless Chris Elliott counts: