LOS GATOS, Calif., April 7 (UPI) -- Thomas Kinkade, who helped make mass-produced paintings a big business, died Friday at his home in Los Gatos, Calif., his family said. He was 54.
Kinkade's family said the artist died suddenly of natural causes, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Known for his paintings of cottages, seascapes and what his catalog described as "powerful Americana," Kinkade was not always a hit with art critics. But as many as 5 percent of the homes in the country may have one of his works on the wall, and at one point his Media Arts Group had revenue of $32 million a quarter, the newspaper reported.
Kinkade called himself the "Painter of Light." While most of the works he sold were reproductions, he would add custom brushstrokes.
"I'm a warrior for light," Kinkade said in a Mercury News interview in 2002. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."
Friends described Kinkade as a man of wide-ranging interests who contributed to charity and got to know the homeless residents of Los Gatos.
Kinkade was born in Placerville, Calif., and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. He is survived by his wife, Nanette, and four daughters.