Chances are you probably have a Thomas Kinkaid picture of some sort In your home. One of every 20 American homes owns a copy of one of his paintings. We just finished doing a rather tough jigsaw puzzle of one of his paintings. It was a gift for Christmas from someone that knows we like to do puzzles and also enjoy Thomas Kinkaid’s paintings.
Born January 19, 1958 in Sacramento, Kinkaid grew up in the town of Placerville. If you watched any of the 2016 Hallmark Christmas movies, you may have seen “A Thomas Kinkaid Christmas,” which was based on trip to Placerville during Christmas break from college. He attended the University of California, Berkeley and later the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. One of the greatest influences in Thomas’s life was a neighbor in Placerville, Glen Wessels, who encouraged him to attend Berkeley and also really instilled in him the passion to paint and to include what became Kinkaid’s “trademark”—light—in his paintings. His paintings are characterized by glowing lights and saturated pastel colors, often portraying idyllic settings such as gardens, streams, stone cottages, lighthouses and street scenes. His hometown of Placerville was the inspiration for many of his street and snow scenes. He became known as “Thomas Kinkaid, Painter of Light.” He also depicted Christian themes including the cross and churches.
His goal in painting was to communicate inspirational, life-affirming messages through his paintings. Many of His pictures also contain Bible references. though he struggled with some personality “quirks,” he described himself as a “devoted Christian,” and included with his signature, the sign of the “fish” which was has been a symbol of Christianity since the early church. One thing that probably accounted for some of Kinkaid’s erratic behavior at times was the struggle he had with alcohol, which was also a major factor in his rather premature death April 6, 2012 at age 54.
Obviously one of the factors that make Kinkaid’s paintings so popular is the way in which he brought life and warmth to a scene through the ruse of light, as his mentor Glen Wessels had recommended to him. As I contemplated that, I couldn’t help but relate it to all the Scriptural references to “light.” Since “God is the source of light, He actually had to create “darkness” (Isa. 45:7). Although the darkness was used physically to separate day and night (Gen. 1:4,5), it also became a symbol of sin and evil—“spiritual darkness.” When Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, he wrote: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light;; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them…For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:2,6).
The Apostle John, in his gospel, wrote concerning this coming Messiah, whom he calls “the Word” (Jn. 1:1): “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (or overpower) it” (Jn. 1:4,5). John the Baptist, who became the forerunner or herald of the coming of the Messiah “Came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through Him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (Jn. 1: 7-9). When Jesus began His ministry He made the claim: “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). In John’s first epistle he writes: “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (I Jn. 1:5,6). Not only is God the source of physical light, but here “light” refers to His holiness and purity. Light is the most fundamental and important form of energy, and energy includes every phenomenon in the physical universe. It is appropriate for John to affirm that “God is light,” because everything created must reflect the character of its Creator. And with that in mind, note what Jesus said of His followers: “You are the light of the world…Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works (i.e., God working in and through you), and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:14,16). Christ the “light of the world lives in us as believers, and we need to let Him shine through us to others.
Peter, in speaking of those who have trusted Christ for eternal life and become part of the Body of Christ, the Church, says: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called your out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9). The Apostle Paul, addressing believers, writes: “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light” (Eph. 5: 8). As John the Baptist said, we are not “The Light” but we are hear to introduce others to “The True Light,” Jesus Christ, “The Light of the World.” Since He lives in us, we have the light source within and can reflect it to those around when we abide in fellowship with Him and allow Him to be in control of our lives, walking as “children of light.”
Thomas Kindaid may be known as “The Painter of Light” for incorporating the glow of light in his paintings, but the true “Painter of Light,” who Himself is light, is Jesus Christ, “The Light of the World.” Have allowed His light to shine in your heart? If so, are you reflecting that light to the world around you? Are you too a “Painter of Light”?