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Thomas Kinkade, popular artist, dies at age 54

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 7, 2012 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
Thomas Kinkade speaks about his art during a gathering in New York City in 2006.
Thomas Kinkade speaks about his art during a gathering in New York City in 2006.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The artist painted warm, colorful, peaceful scenes
  • NEW: "He had a rare ability to exude a sense of warmth," recalls author
  • His death appears to be from natural causes, according to the family

(CNN) -- Thomas Kinkade, one of the most popular artists in America, has died at his California home, his family said.

He was 54.

Family and friends recalled the artist as a generous man, who inspired others and will missed.

"He had a rare ability to exude a sense of warmth, a transcendent light," said Robert Goodwin, who wrote the book "Points of Light: A Celebration of the American Spirit of Giving," with Kinkade.

"He had a great commitment to inspire others -- one who was nurtured in his early life by family and friends and church to really be an example of selfless acts of service," he said Saturday.

Kinkade's death at his Los Gatos home appeared to be from natural causes, according to the family.

"Thom provided a wonderful life for his family,'' his wife, Nanette, said in a statement late Friday night. "We are shocked and saddened by his death.''

Art from the self-described "painter of light," adorns many living rooms in America. It emphasizes simple pleasures and warm, positive images of idyllic cottages, lighthouses and colorful gardens.

"My mission as an artist is to capture those special moments in life adorned with beauty and light," Kinkade said in a message on his website. "I work to create images that project a serene simplicity that can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone. That's what I mean by sharing the light."

Kinkade painted more than 1,000 pieces on various topics, including cabins, nature scenes, seascapes and classic Americana.

In 2006, the artist recalled one of his earliest lessons during an interview with CNN's Larry King.

"When I was a young boy, my mother told me, 'Your talents are God's gifts to you, and what you do with those talents are your gift to God,'" he said.

CNN's Fredericka Whitfield contributed to this report.

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