Rather than embrace the intellectual isolation of the artist, Thomas Kinkade makes each of his works an intimate statement that resonates in the personal lives of his viewers. What often goes unnoticed in Kinkade's paintings, except by the very observant, is the artist's playfulness, which he expresses by slipping in tiny details here and there. The initials on the tree in his Homestead House, for example, stand for Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara. In his Paris, City of Lights, Kinkade is having a showing at the Louvre in Paris (something which in reality has not yet happened), but he has painted in a banner saying the exhibit is "sold out." Another humorous interloper into Kinkade paintings is America's most beloved illustrator, Norman Rockwell. In one of the artist's works, you can barely make out the famous illustrator's big round glasses peering out from the windshield of an old car driving down Main Street toward the viewer. In another, Rockwell is seen at the corner of the painting hurrying up a walk toward a brightly glowing house.

Bridges are one of his favorite subjects, as are steps or grassy inclines leading upward or through a gate-images that are symbols of his religious faith. Some of his paintings actually are visual depictions of Bible verses, such as his A Light in the Storm, taken from John 8:12: "I am the light of the world."

In any Kinkade painting, there is bound to be something more than first meets the eye. He frequently pays loving tribute to his wife and daughters by hiding their names or initials within his paintings, a phenomenon eagerly watched by seasoned collectors. Those who look closely, for example, may be able to make out the initial N for Kinkade's childhood sweetheart and wife, Nannette, which he works into all his paintings. His Golden Gate Bridge reportedly contains 156 Ns, which may be a record. In Thomas Kinkade's painting , the boy on the bicycle being chased by a dog is the young artist himself, who met his childhood sweetheart and future wife, Nanette, while on his paper route.


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