I'd never heard of the guy.
So naturally, when a Susan Orlean profile of Kinkade from 2001 showed up in my Feedly, it became my lunchtime reading.
What a reward. Orlean's use of detail and dialogue creates a profile of Kinkade before you actually meet him in the story. And when you do meet him, she lets him characterize himself with long, interview-y quotes that might not work were they not set up so well.
But the greatest parts, I think, are Orlean's descriptions. A gallery, she writes, is set up to make you feel like "you had entered Thomas Kinkade's world, where it is always a dusky autumn evening in a small but prosperous English town."
Kinkade paintings, she writes, are difficult to tell apart "because their effect is so unvarying -- smooth and warm and romantic, not quite fantastical but not quite real, more of a wishful and inaccurate rendering of what the world looks like, as if painted by someone who hadn't been outside in a long time."
Of Kinkade himself, she writes: "If you see his paintings before you meet him, you might expect him to be wispy and pixie-like, but he is as brawny and good-natured as the neighborhood butcher. He has the buoyant self-assurance of someone who started poor and obscure but has always been sure he would end up rich and famous."
Go read for yourself. It's time well-spent.