Thomas Kinkade spent a summer traveling across the United States with his college friend James Gurney. The two of them finished their journey in New York and secured a contract with Guptill Publications to produce a sketching handbook. Two years later they produced The Artist's Guide to Sketching, which was one of Guptill Publications' best-sellers that year.
The success of the book led them both to Ralph Bakshi Studios where they created background art for the 1983 animated feature film Fire and Ice. While working on the film, Kinkade began to explore the depiction of light and of imagined worlds.
After the film, Kinkade earned his living as a painter, selling his originals in galleries throughout California.