Disney Dreams: Thomas Kinkade Brings Classic Disney Moments to Life
The long-time partnership between artist Thomas Kinkade and Walt Disney Studios has always made sense.
Disney is one of the most popular creative brands in the world—responsible for movies, books, TV shows, and unforgettable family vacations—and Kinkade remains one of the most recognizable popular artists of the past 50 years.
In 2005, Disney invited Kinkade to create an original painting for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. Following the success of that collaboration, Kinkade began painting more scenes from Disney history, transforming the iconic imagery from their films into lushly painted works of fine art.
Kinkade called many of his Disney works “narrative panoramas,” meaning that they often tell the story of an entire movie within one single image. Today, Kinkade’s Disney paintings are among his best-loved works.
If you’re a Disney fan—or if you just love great art—here are 7 of Kinkade’s Disney works with Kinkade’s own commentary on each one.
“The Lion King”
Thomas Kinkade: As I painted my homage to this amazing story, I could not help but be moved by the intricate interplay between all of the magnificent creatures under Simba’s domain. I imagined a lush, colorful, and bountiful African plain rightfully reestablished to its splendor after Simba vanquished Scar and his comedic, yet treacherous, hyenas, each now forlorn in their punishment.
The multitudes of animals have been summoned to pay tribute to Simba’s new baby and their future regent as they wait under a spectacular sky illuminated in great anticipation. The world is as it should be… in harmony and perfectly balanced. Simba’s heir is exalted by Rafiki and proudly symbolizes what awaits when destiny is embraced, challenges faced, and one summons the courage to stand in the spotlight of providence.
I trust that this image will both remind you of this fantastic story and its amazing characters and, most importantly, move you to face the future irrespective of history’s impasses knowing that the watchful and approving eye of the King is content as you embrace your place in the circle of life.
“The Little Mermaid”
Thomas Kinkade: Believe it or not, I am a huge fan of The Little Mermaid. I honestly believe it is the film that sparked the renaissance in Disney animation coming out of the 1980s. While Beauty and the Beast may be the most purely romantic of the modern-day Disney classics and The Lion King the most powerfully dramatic, The Little Mermaid is clearly the most enjoyably enchanting of these films and certainly best captures the innocent nature of first love.
Watching my four daughters all grow into young women, I have been privy to the emotional peaks and valleys of young love. I understand King Triton’s concern and desire to protect his youngest from a relationship facing so many obstacles. But I also recognize the desperate love Ariel feels towards Prince Eric and the purity of her belief that their love can conquer all. Love is powerful, love is captivating, and first love absolutely enchants!
“Beauty and the Beast Falling in Love”
Thomas Kinkade: Of all the Disney love stories, perhaps Beauty and the Beast is the most poignant. Beast’s true identity is a charming prince who is discovering love in the form of the beautiful Belle. In my painting, I memorialize that magic moment when they first begin to discover their love for each other. Many of the characters from the movie are present, including Belle’s eccentric father Maurice, the wonderful characters of Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and of course, Lumiere.
In the distance, we see the village that is a central setting for many of the film’s most important moments. As with every piece in my Disney Dreams Collection, I attempted to portray a panorama of the entire movie, rather than an individual scene. My desire is that the viewer’s eye would wander around the painting making discoveries in every corner of the image. “Beauty and the Beast Falling in Love” represents, in my mind, my highest accomplishment so far in the Disney Dreams Collection.
The crowning achievement and the central discovery in the image is the sweeping sense of romance that is at the core of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. Here truly is unconditional love in its purest form. I hope you sense that love every time you look upon “Beauty and the Beast Falling in Love.”
Thomas Kinkade: Sleeping Beauty is my eighth creation in the Disney Dreams Collection and is the most lavishly detailed of the series that I have painted to date. My painting is filled with the enchantment of the original story. From the woodcutter’s cottage where Briar Rose was hidden by the three good fairies to the magnificent castle where Princess Aurora would awaken to love’s first kiss… then in the distance we see the climatic fight between the good Prince Phillip and the evil Maleficent in dragon form; I’ve interpreted the entire story in a narrative panorama for all to enjoy.
Of course, central to the painting and as a testament to the strength of true love, we see the prince and his awakened beauty in each other’s arms as friends great and small gather in celebration of their undying devotion. Whether you are a fan of Sleeping Beauty or simply an unabashed romantic who believes love conquers all, enjoy this painting as my gift to you!
“Tinker Bell and Peter Pan Fly to Neverland”
Thomas Kinkade: As with the first two paintings in my Disney Dreams Collection… I try to tell the whole story in a single image—what I refer to as a “narrative panorama.” We see Neverland in the distance, just below the “second star to the right,” as the full moon bathes the scene with its silvery glow. The lights of London twinkle along the river Thames, as the clouds take shape, if only in our imagination, as characters from the adventure—Captain Hook, Smee, the Lost Boys, and the ubiquitous ticking crocodile. But, for me, the central character of the story will always remain Tinker Bell, the enchanted fairy princess who makes the entire journey of imagination possible.
“The Princess and the Frog”
Thomas Kinkade: Walt Disney said it all began with a mouse and, in [this] Disney movie classic, you might say it all begins with a frog. The Princess and the Frog has been brought to life with hand-drawn animation techniques, making it the first Disney traditional animation classic in years as well as the first ever to be set in the enchanted city of New Orleans.
In my painting, I wanted to suggest the look of traditional animation yet maintain the sense of painterly mood that my work is known for. I lavished detail into the bayou flowers glowing with hidden fireflies, as well as the curving live oak draped with lacey Spanish moss. The characters of the movie swirl about the composition, inviting us to ponder the part each plays in the story.
“New Day at the Cinderella Castle”
Thomas Kinkade: “A New Day at the Cinderella Castle” discovers a morning every bit as enchanting as the castle itself. A double rainbow arcs over the towering castle; morning light gently kisses the stone turrets. Lavish trees and shrubs frame the building; quaint gas lamps dance along the walkway.
I used a whimsical brush: Is Bambi on the lawn? Tinkerbell above the castle spires? The Ugly Duckling in the pond? You decide.
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