Thomas Kinkade painted under the cover of the fictitious alias "Robert Girrard". Thomas Kinkade created a series of studio paintings and Plein Aires (see below for definition) from 1984 to 1989 and signed them with the name "Robert Girrard", giving no hint that the artwork was actually by Thomas Kinkade.
There are approximately 70 Robert Girrard paintings in existence. Collectors purchased these rare, small quantity release paintings not knowing they were acquiring a valuable Kinkade. Some collectors actually thought Robert Girrard was copying Thomas Kinkade!
Why Thomas Kinkade used an alias
Thomas Kinkade became "Robert Girrard" in order to experiment with artistic freedom. Thomas Kinkade wanted to work in the style of French impressionists and desired to paint in that manner. (His paintings are remarkably like Claude Monet). As a believer in re-incarnation I will admit I believe that Thomas Kinkade WAS Claude Monet! But Thomas Kinkade believed his collectors would be startled at this different style and he did not want to lose his audience. Hence "Robert Girrard". Thomas Kinkade outed himself as Robert Girrard through a statement released by Media Arts Group early in 2002. These days when you purchase a Robert Girrard it is double signed -- Signed by Robert Girrard and Thomas Kinkade.
What is a Plein Aire painting
A Plein Aire (French : open Air) is a painting done outdoors by an Artist on his easel from beginning to end in one sitting. Many collectors feel this is true art. There are no later "touch ups" in a studio. Plein Aire is a more impressionistic painting style that features broad dabs of pigment which look better from a distance.