The Art of Creative Living

Making Every Day a Radiant Masterpiece


By Thomas Kinkade

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America’s most collected living artist reveals how the creative process can provide a path to greater awareness.


For everyone who wants to add flavor to their lives, who wants to break out of the rut of ordinary living, who wants to strike out and explore some neglected but cherished dream, who wants to test the limits of the possible—the next essential step is. . .

Do you want to see the ordinary in an extraordinary way? Do you want to change old attitudes and habits? Do you want to bring new meaning to your work, you relationships, and your goals? If so, then join renowned "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade as he shows you how to unlock your God-given creativity and embrace the joy that comes when you see the world through new eyes.

A new, fulfilling life is available to everybody, Kinkade says But it's up to you to take hold of it. In his latest book, with God's seven days of creation as his model, Kinkade challenges you to redefine your purpose and understand the creative base in everything you choose to think and do. Journey with him as he explores the important aspects of:

  • Solitude—Learn to listen to your inner sensitivities and reap new ideas and inspiration.
  • Passion—Feed and explore the inner fire that nurtures your creative thoughts and helps bring them into the world.
  • Love—Dare to embrace the single-most essential ingredient in your quest for creativity—as it defines who and what you are.
  • Community—Understand how your new ideas or outlook can—and should—impact the world beyond your own neighborhood.
  • Work—Discover how it can be a pleasure, a living process that embraces the creative rhythm of conception, birth, and growth.
  • Conflict—Use it for what it really is: the opportunity to push the creative envelope and expand your personal possibilities.
  • Worship—Find out why diverting your eyes from your creative goals for a period of time actually helps you achieve those goals.

Your aim should be to constantly redefine yourself creatively. Here, with this framework and many stories from his own life and those of others, Thomas Kinkade offers you a way to explore what just may be a new calling. A lifetime of creativity—are you ready for it?

"Light the spark. Approach every decision you make, every word you speak, every task you undertake, every challenge you confront, as a brand-new brush stroke in the art of creation. If you do, I promise you that you'll bask in an eternal glow that just might transform your life."










Copyright © 2005 Thomas Kinkade, The Thomas Kinkade Company, Morgan Hill, CA

Featured artwork by Thomas Kinkade © 2005 Thomas Kinkade,

The Thomas Kinkade Company, Morgan Hill, CA

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Scriptures noted RSV are taken from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION of the Bible. Copyright © 1949, 1952, 1971, 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.

Scriptures noted NKJV are taken from THE NEW KING JAMES VERSION. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.

"How Great Thou Art" copyright © 1953 S.K. Hine. Assigned to Manna Music, Inc., 35255 Brooten Road, Pacific City, OR 97135. Renewed 1981 by Manna Music, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. (ASCAP)

Warner Faith

Hachette Book Group

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The Warner Faith name and logo are registered trademarks of the Hachette Book Group.

First eBook Edition: June 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-56121-1

Dedicated to the memory of Charlie Bell,

a man who lived a creative life


Although the spark of creativity lies in each one of us, turning that creativity into a tangible, artistic product—whether it's a painting or a book—takes a special kind of synergy.

In the case of The Art of Creative Living, the synergy started with a happy reunion of three friends: Rolf Zettersten, Warner Books, and me. Rolf, who is publisher of Warner Faith, has been a good friend for more than fifteen years. During that time, we have developed not only a close personal bond but also a deep respect for one another professionally. A few years back, it was Rolf who introduced me to Warner Books, which published one of my first inspirational books for the general public. Then, two years ago, Rolf invited me to join Warner again for a new venture that he was spearheading, and The Art of Creative Living was born. To nurture the project through to completion, Rolf tapped a talented editor, Steve Wilburn.

I realized right from the start that in order to capture on paper the concepts and stories that were floating around in my head, I needed help. I am an artist, and if I am to fulfill my personal creative vision, it's imperative for me to stick to my day job—focused solely on the latest painting I'm working on in my studio. Fortunately, Warner introduced me to a new friend, Pam Proctor, a writer whose inspirational touch enlivened and expanded my own vision in The Art of Creative Living.

But the synergy didn't stop there. Behind the scenes, there were dozens of creative people striving to help me produce a superior work. First and foremost among them was my personal assistant, Denise Sanders, who is manager of Thomas Kinkade Studios— IvyGate. As the book was coming to fruition, Denise saw to it that I stayed happily on task, juggling my paintings, business deals, and this book.

Finally, no Thomas Kinkade project could be accomplished without the support of my most important editor and adviser, my wife, Nanette. Her constancy has given me the ultimate freedom to create without restraint. She has always understood the true secret to creativity: that in order to experience The Art of Creative Living to the fullest, each one of us needs affirmation and love.

Remember not the former things,

nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

—Isaiah 43:18-19RSV



A God of New Beginnings

Do you ever wonder how an artist does what he does? Do you ask yourself how he can take a blank canvas, and with just a few humble tools—a brush and some paint—infuse it with such life that when we see it, our faces brighten and a smile of recognition crosses our lips?

On the canvas touched by a gifted artist's hand, we see something familiar—something we remember in Grandma's house, on a vacation in the mountains, or during that business trip to a city on the East Coast. We see images of sunflowers dancing in a field . . . of cable cars straining up a hillside . . . of a man fishing in the Tetons . . . or of a Victorian house set amid a garden of roses.

It seems almost miraculous. How did the artist achieve such effects? How was he able to go from nothingness to a visual image so magnificent it takes our breath away? How was he able to create?

Of course, I could tell you the practical steps: how the artist sketches in the layout, masses in the forms, and adds bold blocks of color to create depth, shadow, and light. I could describe how he fine- tunes the image with small payoff details that turn a rounded form into a eucalyptus tree, or an oblong into a foreground bush, or a triangular shape into a distant mountain.

But that information would give you only part of the story. It wouldn't tell you what you really want to know, what you need to know: namely, that before even picking up his brush or putting the first dabs of color on the canvas, the artist first has to believe.

He has to believe that he can create. Even if his child is sick, his telephone bill is due, his wife is stressed out, or his dishwasher leaks, he has to know that he has the power within him to produce something wonderful. When he awakens each morning, he has to believe that although he might not be able to solve all his problems at once, he has the innate strength to deal alone with that blank canvas. He has to feel deep assurance that for an hour, a morning, or a day, he can create a world of beauty and hope and love, a world that reflects the vision that has been placed within his heart.

So the art of creation is an act of faith. It's a belief that we can take nothing more than a lump of clay or a chunk of stone and shape it into something magnificent. It's an understanding that within us, we have the power to take the crude, humble circumstances of our lives and ennoble them through creativity.

But this potential is not limited to the fine artist or the "pro" who makes a living from his creativity. Each of us possesses the creative spark, the innate ability to take whatever life bestows—pain or fear, courage or joy, heartbreak or disappointment—and transform it into a masterpiece. Every day is a blank canvas, waiting to be filled by your creative touch.

"But I'm not creative!" you might protest. "I just don't have it in me."

But you're wrong. The creative impulse is fundamental to human nature, a basic instinct as powerful as our primeval drive to survive or reproduce. More often than not, though, we have buried it under the burdens of our lives. We have consumed ourselves with busywork, anxieties, and priorities of the moment, rather than with the calling of the eternal—the calling of God.

From the beginning of space and time, creativity has been at the center of God's purpose for you and me. It seems significant that the first image of God portrayed in the ancient Scriptures was as Creator: "In the beginning God created . . ."

As this early story of the earth and heavens unfolds, God emerges as the Master Artist with infinite skill and imagination who, in a series of bold strokes, first fills the canvas of reality with light . . . next, with a rather mysterious "firmament" or "expanse" or "dome" . . . then, with dry land, vegetation, birds and sea creatures, beasts of the earth . . . and finally, humankind.

Like the act of creation itself, your life is an ongoing creative act, driven by bursts of divine imagination that empower you to invent, inspire, motivate, and envision. Every day, you are called to exercise the creativity that is your birthright.

But how do you start? How do you cut through the dishes and the phone ringing and your boss bearing down on you and the baby crying to ignite the creative spark within you? How do you find your creative purpose when you've never had an inclination to paint, or to compose, or to write, or to dance?

Let me make a suggestion: Open your inner eye right now to that blank canvas that is the rest of your life. What do you most yearn to do? What would give you the most satisfaction or enjoyment? What is your dream job, or your ideal relationship, or your perfect day? What is the creative vision you have for your life?

Is it to run a company, or bring harmony to your family, or bring romance back into your marriage? Is it to take salsa lessons, or walk the beach, or fix up that room that has been bugging you for years?

Chances are, whatever your dreams, whatever your secret longings, you haven't thought about them for a long, long time, because down deep, you don't believe they can be realized. In short, you don't believe you can create. You don't wake up believing like an artist that you can take the blank canvas of your day and create the world as you want it to be.

Yet each of us has the power. As he formed us in the womb, God placed eternity in our hearts, so that we would be restless, uncomfortable, and unfulfilled until we had connected with our divinely ordained calling—until we had lit the creative spark within.

Of course, you can choose to suppress your creative inner yearnings and never pick up the tools that will allow you to create. You can cover your canvas in unrelieved darkness and layers of fear, anxiety, or gloom. You can allow yourself to be overwhelmed by challenges or problems that you perceive as great personal threats or obstacles.

On the other hand, you can approach your creative potential with more expectant eyes. You can see it as a wonderful opportunity, a priceless gift. You can open your mind to the possibility that each day—whether you're a lawyer, a full- time mom, a plumber, a volunteer, or a computer whiz—you have the potential to create a radiant new masterpiece.

The creative impulse is not a onetime phenomenon; rather, it is an ongoing part of the complete human experience. Every day is a new day, a new canvas. Whatever you did or failed to do yesterday can be repaired or changed today. Wherever your life has taken you—whether through a divorce, a financial crisis, a devastating illness, or a disappointment at work—you can start again. God is not just the original Creator and Master Artist, but also the God of new beginnings. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.

So your blank canvas stands ready. Will you pick up the brush with me? Today? Right now? Will you dare to dream?

In my paintings, I try to touch you personally. I try to draw you into each scene so that you can share my dreams and my emotions. I want you to wander with a sense of wonderment through majestic landscapes and, in flights of imagination, open cottage doors and bask in the warmth of inner light.

Now, I invite you to take the next step. On the following pages, I will lead you into my canvas, into the world of Thomas Kinkade. Once inside, you'll join me for seven "days" of creative experience and celebration. It is my hope that as you witness the unfolding of God's creative vision, you will be inspired to see and believe in your own calling, a divine summons to live every day creatively and turn your life into an exciting work of art.

How will you design your personal canvas? What will be your first creative line, sketch, or brushstroke? The choice is in your hands.

Light the spark. Approach every decision you make, every word you speak, every task you undertake, every challenge you confront, as a brand- new brushstroke in the art of creation. If you do, I promise that you'll bask in an eternal glow that just might transform your life.



The Art of Solitude

Solitude is the audience- chamber of God.






Eternity in Your Heart

All true creativity—in relationships, business, spirituality, or the arts—begins at some tranquil center deep inside your being. You can't really create unless you have first discovered and explored that quiet inner dimension.

So your first challenge in learning the art of creation in your life is to find that special inner place, where all your greatest dreams and deepest personal beliefs reside. Then, you'll want to contemplate and enjoy that sanctuary of personal solitude for a time until, finally, you're in a position to ignite your passion and reach out to change the world around you.

But understand, I'm not talking about some abstract point of philosophy here. This is a supremely practical truth. Think about yourself for a moment. If you're honest, you probably will find, as you look deep inside, that you harbor a burning desire: You want to retreat from the pressures of life into a special place where you can feel totally at peace just being alone with your reflections and dreams. We all want to hole up in such an inviolate place on occasion. I know I do. But first, of course, you have to find it.

And by the way, this place I'm talking about isn't necessarily linked to a physical location. Rather, it's a sacred space in the depths of your being—in your spirit and your heart—where your creative impulses are most likely to have free rein. You know intuitively that when you are firmly ensconced in this private realm, your greatest potential can finally be realized. And ultimately, you can become the person you were really meant to be.

It isn't that you don't love interacting with your family and friends, or operating as a productive and useful member of society. But you know that to be a truly creative person, you desperately need a place apart, a hidden corner where you can listen to that certain, singular voice in your heart.

In fact, if you don't first enter this place, which above all is a state of mind and being, there is little chance that you will ignite your passion and be swept along in a great flow of creativity. So the stable, fertile space inside comes first. Then you will have a platform—a platform rooted in eternal concerns—on which to consider the specific nature of your creative impulses and practical ways you might realize them.

Although finding your special inner space might seem a rather complex or difficult assignment, the path to the destination may actually lie in plain view. Let me illustrate by introducing you to Sylvia, who works behind the counter at a fast- food restaurant in Cuthbert, Georgia.

I learned about Sylvia through a friend of mine, who happened to be carrying a copy of one of my books when she walked up to the counter to place her order. She had just laid the book on the counter and was fumbling with her purse when Sylvia, the young African- American woman at the cash register, spied my name on the book cover.

"Thomas Kinkade!" the young woman exclaimed. "I have one of his cottages. I bought it in Germany."

My friend did a double take because she had never run into anyone who had purchased Kinkade real estate in Germany. In fact, she had never heard of any such thing.

Soon the mystery solved itself when Sylvia explained that while she was browsing through a military post- exchange gift shop while her husband was stationed in Germany, a little porcelain cottage on one of the shelves caught her eye. Somehow, the replica infused her with an inexplicable sense of tranquillity and almost immediately seemed to free her mind to range over her most profound dreams and aspirations.

As it happened, that little cottage, which now has a permanent spot on a bureau in Sylvia's home in Cuthbert, was a reproduction of one of the cozy country hideaways in my paintings. In the ensuing conversation, it quickly became apparent that Sylvia had never read any of my books or even seen any of my paintings. But for some reason, when she focused on that small cottage or cradled it in her hands, she found she was transported to another dimension.

"Every time I look at that cottage—or even think about it—I'm reminded that somewhere there's a place I can be all by myself, peaceful and quiet," said Sylvia, her eyes twinkling at the thought.

With that, she turned back to the French- fry machine, hustling to fill my friend's order. A few minutes later, Sylvia returned with the fries and a smile so bright and serene that for a moment my friend thought she had become a valued patron of the most elegant restaurant imaginable.

Clearly, Sylvia had discovered the secret to finding creative solitude in the midst of her busy day. As she recalled a simple cottage filled with light—a light that seemed to cast a warming glow on her own life—her mood, imagination, and sensitivity to others soared. Sylvia succeeded in finding a supremely quiet and tranquil inner dimension, a piece of eternity in her heart that extended quite naturally into her surroundings and relationships.

I don't know whether Sylvia's special glow that day lasted for just a moment or for hours on end. But I do know that my friend's life benefited significantly from that young woman's potent creative touch. It's hard not to be moved, and transformed just a little bit for the better, when we encounter the power of another person's quiet and profound inner solitude.





Merging with the Mind of God

After you discover a path that leads to a quiet clearing deep inside your heart—and then step into the space with the intention of contemplating and expressing your own creativity—you will soon realize that further preparation is necessary. Almost immediately, if you're like most other people I know, you'll find yourself asking a couple of disconcerting questions:

"Am I really alone as I become more 'centered' here in this creative inner space? And if I'm not, who or what else is present with me?"

The search for true, empowering solitude—that intangible place where eternity resides and inspires—prompts such questions. Even more unsettling, coming face- to- face with our creative aspirations and goals often releases feelings of loneliness—destructive, oppressive feelings of cut- off seclusion that can completely immobilize the imagination. In my own creative work, I have found that a prerequisite for inspired creativity is the ability to ward off the paralysis of loneliness by understanding that I am never really alone.

For sustained creative output, we all need some sort of reassuring, comforting, confidence- inspiring presence to sustain us during the dry periods and the hard going. Some may visualize this presence as a kind of congenial companion. Others may imagine they can feel the steady, strong hand of a diligent collaborator guiding their brush or pen this way and that. Still others may assume that near at hand, there's a chorus of nebulous, invisible encouragers to whom they can talk or mutter.

What's the identity of this other presence in your life? Your inner trek toward the creative life may not have carried you quite far enough to say. But if pressed, you might speculate that it's just possible you've been joined by some comfortable alter ego, or a personal artistic muse, or an undefined spiritual presence, . . . or God.

So go ahead and probe deeper into your heart, the seat of your very being. Search with great care for the centered orientation from which you can begin to create. But at the same time, engage your mind and spirit in an "inner conversation" with questions like these:

  • If I'm not really alone, then who might be with me?
  • As I begin to dream and create, what force will sustain and inspire me?
  • Who will give me extra strength in hard times, when finances are low, time is short, or creativity seems to have shut down?

I know that when I ask myself such questions, a quick, sure answer comes to mind: Even though I may seem to be alone, I'm really partnering with God in the creative act—whether I'm aware of his presence or not. Furthermore, I firmly believe that as I draw closer to that spot inside me where my maximum creativity can burst forth, I am actually beginning to merge with the mind of God.


On Sale
Aug 1, 2009
Page Count
272 pages

Thomas Kinkade

About the Author

Thomas Kinkade, the celebrated “Painter of Light” and subject of over forty-five books, is the most widely-collected artist in America today. He has been named to both the U.S. Art Magazine Hall of Fame and the Bradford International Hall of Fame for collectible artists. Kinkade raises millions of dollars each year for the Thomas Kinkade Foundation, which supports national programs to encourage children in the arts.

Learn more about this author