No doubt many people who would praise a rich, popular, establishment-approved hack like Andy Warhol despise Kinkade for being a rich, popular, evangelical-approved hack. But I think a solid case against Kinkade can be made on purely aesthetic criteria, especially when you compare his work to a superior artist.
Consider two works of on similar themes. Both are images of the Water Tower in Chicago. Both have similar elements—a carriage, trees, people with umbrellas. Indeed, paintings are almost identical in theme and content, if not in style.
And yet the first is unquestionably technically superior. The use of texture and shadow puts the viewer within the picture. You can almost feel the cold Chicago air and hear the sounds of the serene yet bustling city.
The second painting, however, distances the viewer from the scene. Light is overused (notice the light coming from every window and the background lights that resemble a brushfire), presenting a faux golden glow that is unrealistic and dull. And the carriage, though more sharply drawn than in the first painting, is two-dimensional and distracting. While the first work is worthy of gracing a museum wall, the second is only worthy of garnishing a cheap greeting card.
As you could probably guess, the second painting is by Thomas Kinkade, circa 2004.
But what about the first painting, the more aesthetically superior rendition of the Water Tower? It too is by Thomas Kinkade; he painted it in 1998.
This is what is so distressing about Thomas Kinkade: He is both a creator of some of the most inspiring paintings of the past two decades and a producer of some of the worst schlock ever manufactured by a talented artist.