updated 04/07/2012 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/07/2012 AT 1:30 PM ET
Thomas Kinkade, the popular painter, has died. He was 54.
Said to be one of America’s most collected living artists, Kinkade was known for his distinctively sentimental, often religiously-themed landscapes.
Though heavily criticized in the art world for his style – which bordered on kitsch – Kinkade produced a body of work that was estimated to fetch an average of $100 million in sales each year.
The self-described “painter of light” – who likened himself to Walt Disney and his hero, Norman Rockwell, in his desire to make people happy – died Friday at home in Los Gatos, Calif., outside San Francisco, of what appeared to be natural causes.