American artist Thomas Kinkade passed away on Friday at the age of 54. A statement from his family reveals that he died in his Los Gatos home from what appears to be natural causes.

Kinkade described himself as a Painter of Light. His paintings ranged from country gardens to pastoral landscapes and are estimated to be found in 10 million homes in the United States, the Associated Press reports. As the nation's most collected living artist, it was believed that his work took in around $100 million a year.

My mission as an artist is to capture those special moments in life adorned with beauty and light, a statement on his website says. I work to create images that project a serene simplicity that can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. That's what I mean by sharing the light.

Kinkade married his childhood sweetheart, Nanette. They had four daughters together. Thom provided a wonderful life for his family, Nanette wrote in a statement. We are shocked and saddened by his death.

An official cause of death will not be released for a few days.

Take a look at five things you may not have known about the late artist.


I was always the kid who could draw, Kinkade said. He attended UC Berkeley, and from there he began working in the film industry as an artist. His biography states that since he began paiting more than 25 years ago, he has painted over 1,000 masterworks. Besides painting, he is also a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. Over 140 books in total have been either authored or written about Kinkade.

Hidden Messages

There is more to Kinkade's work than just beautiful and bright scenes. Within his work are messages that speak to Thom's inspiration for each image. Family member initials, hearts and Disney characters can be found hidden within each painting. His latest work from the Disney Dreams Collection is of the Little Mermaid, which is said to hide the following within the image: six mickey ears silhouettes, Timon (from The Lion King), the Beast, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Thumper and Tinker Bell.


Kinkade was known for comparing himself to fellow artists Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney. I share something in common with Norman Rockwell and, for that matter, with Walt Disney, in that I really like to make people happy, he said. According to the Associated Press, the artist called Rockwell his earliest hero. I remember my mom had a big collection of copies of [Saturday Evening Post] magazines, and that was really my introduction to those great illustrators, he said.

Thomas Kinkade: The Movie

In 2008, the movie Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cotttage was released. According to IMDB, the film was about the inspiration behind Kinkade's painting The Christmas Cottage. The site explains that his career motivation stems from discovering that his mother was in danger of losing their family home. Jared Padalecki of the CW's Supernatural portrays Kinkade in the film.

Trouble With The Law

Since 2009 Kinkade has been in a little bit of trouble with the law. The Los Angeles Times reported that the artist was being investigated by the FBI for ruining investors financially after fraudulently inducing them. He was arrested for suspicion of DUI in 2010, a couple months after manufacturer Pacific Metro filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Mercury News reported.