Like many upstanding American families, mine enjoys jigsaw puzzles. Since my Mother is an admitted Thomas Kinkade fan, my sister got the matriarch a nice set
of three Thomas Kinkade jigsaw puzzles (we assembled the puzzle on the left). So I, having only glanced at my Mother's Kinkade lighthouse painting, spent the night watching the painstaking assembly of a Kinkade work.
Some may think that I should review an artwork as it is presented with real paint on real canvas, or at least a high-quality print. But from what I can tell by the mass-produced marketing of Kinkade's art, I think jigsaw puzzle is as valid a medium as any. (Zizak, am I misusing the word "medium"?) A puzzle gives you more time with a work than you might normally spend, and you look closely at every spot from the outside in. And finally, at the end you appreciate the work in its entirety.
I have to say, I didn't like the puzzle. The large fuzzy brushstrokes, and seemingly random placement of red dots was a big turn-off. The lack of any defined lines left me confused as to what I was looking at. Everything seemed to be awash in an annoying glow. The flowers, rather than reminding me of nature, looked like fake plastic flowers made with artificial dyes.
Puzzle-art works best when there are sharp lines and large contrasts that pull the eye away from the seams between the puzzle pieces. But Kinkade's fuzzy, swirling style follows the contours of the pieces, and results in an ill-defined, washed-out mess.
I also learned something while working on this puzzle. My Mother says that Thomas Kinkade does not actually paint his paintings. He makes mass-produced lithographs. Then a gigantic team of painters color it in. She is not sure if they color by numbers, but says that they probably do. She is also not sure if the painters are in sweatshops, are children, are monkeys, or any combination of the three. I am thinking sweaty juvenile monkey-human hybrids. I am wondering if this mass-production scheme is part of why Kinkade gets so much flak from legitimate artists
There are many purposes for art. Something that may be intriguing in a gallery might look ridiculous in a home. Something that might look nice in your parents' bedroom might look confusing on a jigsaw puzzle.
Moral: Thomas Kinkade is over-extending the reach of his art. He should stick to the coffee mugs, nightlights, and inspirational prayer magnets.