'Painter of Light' Thomas Kinkade dead at 54

thomas-kinkade-paintingsThomas Kinkade, the "painter of light," whose paintings and prints hang in one out of every 20 American homes, is dead at the age of 54. A statement from his family says Kinkade died from natural causes on Friday (April 6) at his Los Gatos, Calif., home.

"Thom provided a wonderful life for his family," his wife Nanette says of the artist in a statement to the San Jose Mercury News. "We are shocked and saddened by his death."

thomas-kinkade-dead-at-54PICS: Celebrity Deaths of 2012

Kinkade was never a favorite with critics -- his Christmas paintings and other scenes of wholesome American cottage scenes -- are often dismissed as kitschy. But fans love the warm paintings and Kinkade's talent for painting light.

As news of his death hit the Internet, Kinkade fans poured out their tributes on Twitter and other social networking sites, though they were outnumbered by critics of his work who turned out en masse to make light of his death.

PICS: Thomas Kinkade Paintings

"I try to create paintings that are a window for the imagination," Kinkade said on his website. "If people look at my work and are reminded of the way things once were or perhaps the way they could be, then I've done my job."
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images/Thomas Kinkade
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