Thomas Kinkade
A dispute over the will of deceased painter Thomas Kinkade entered the court system on Tuesday, June 12. Kinkade's widow and girlfriend are feuding over the estate belonging to the famous painter who is known for the mass marketing of his realistic work as printed reproductions. Twitter

Thomas Kinkade, known for his landscape paintings, has died at the age of 54, at his home in California.

The BBC reports that Kinkade, who died of natural causes, saw his works fetch as much £63 million ($100 million) a year in the US. Although he was known as the "painter of light", he did not find much favour with the critics. Nevertheless, he is one of America's most collected artists, with his works hanging in some 10 million homes across the country.

According to the BBC, Kinkade's paintings generally depict tranquil scenes such as country gardens and churches, while many others featured images from passages of the Bible.

In an obituary written in The Sun, Kinkade had said he was trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness that many people feel. I share something in common with Walt Disney in that I like to make people happy.

The painter married his childhood sweetheart Nanette, who, in a statement, said: "Thom provided a wonderful life for his family. We are shocked and saddened by his death."

Kinkade was born in California and studied at the University of California at Berkeley and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

"I was always the kid who could draw. I had this talent, and it was the one thing that gave me some kind of dignity in the midst of my personal environment," The Independent quoted him as saying.

"I'd see a tree as being green, and he would see it as 47 different shades of green. He just saw the world in a much more detailed way than anyone I've ever seen," Ken Raasch, who co-founded the art production and distribution company Media Arts Group with Kinkade, said.

In 2004, Kinkade received an award from Naledi Theatre (NALED) acknowledging him as the most award winning artist in the past 25 years. He was also the national spokesperson for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and in 2005 he was named the NALED Graphic Artist of the Year. He also released a film, "Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage", in 2008.

Kinkade was one of the few painters who wished art could have a broader appeal. He claimed there could be a book that sold a million copies but it was difficult to find one art piece like that.