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Stuart Gourlay 2014

Stuart Gourlay MorningDownpourStuart Gourlay, MD, Artist and Surgeon


November 14-December 6, 2014
Reception: November 14 • 5–8pm

Artist’s Statement

As an artist I paint on the canvas what I see in my daily life that interests me.  I am always attracted to buildings and other manmade objects and to the interrelationships between people and their environment.   My primary medium is oil paint, but I do occasionally paint in acrylics and watercolors.  I am most comfortable with representational images and would describe myself to others as a contemporary realistic painter.  People often comment on the detail they see in my work and how realistic the paintings look.  Until 2007 my work was exclusively done in the studio and from photographic reference materials.  Since that time, the primary focus of my work has been to control my detail and develop a little looser style by pursuing outdoor, or plein aire, painting.  This has not been as easy as I initially thought it would be, but with increasing experience, I have seen steady improvement in both my plein air and studio paintings.


Stuart GourlayArtist's Background

I was born in Chicago in 1941.  My parents moved first to Seattle and then to Los Angeles during WWII.  When I was 8 years old, we moved to Glendale, California and my mother introduced my sister and me to ceramic painting at the local park.  A year later, she arranged for a professional artist to come into our home and teach the three of us to paint in oils.  After about 2 years of oil painting instruction, I pursued just about every hobby or craft that I could, but stopped painting in oils.  The hobbies I pursued included wood burning, leather tooling, wood working, wood carving, model building, calligraphy, and drawing..  During high school, college and graduate school I did not paint at all but focused on my academic pursuits.  I had decided in junior high school that I wanted to be a doctor.

I graduated from Occidental College with a BA in biology in 1963 and from UCSF School of Medicine in 1967.  After completing my my residency training in general surgery, I spent 5 years in the Army doing research and teaching.  I opened my general surgery practice in the East Bay in 1977.  Today, I continue to practice and teach medical students full time.  Surgery is an extremely visual and very detail-oriented discipline, and to achieve excellent results, constant attention to detail in technique is essential.  As a surgeon, I cannot ever allow myself to pursue a “looser style” of practice. 

My internship and residency at UCSF in general surgery were some of the busiest years of my life.  But I began painting again in acrylics for relaxation.  I painted on and off in acrylics over the ensuing years with instruction only from books and videotapes until 1998.  In1998 I became very interested in improving my painting and started taking some classes and painting more in acrylics.  In 2000, with the help of Donna Reine Taylor, I rediscovered oils.  Since then I have taken classes and studio workshops with Donna and other Marin artists including Camille LaPointe Lyons, Sherrill Miller, Christin Coy and Tim Horn.  In 2007 I started painting outdoors, at first entirely on my own and with art instruction books as my only guide.  This progressed very slowly, but accelerated after I began taking plein aire workshops with Tim Horn and Libby Tolley.  Recent workshops with Ken Auster, Richard Lindenberg and Frank Seranno, plus my pursuit of online art education with Richard Robinson and Johannes Vloothuis, along with making the time to paint outdoors at least once a week, have all contributed to a steady improvement in my work.  I feel that my years of surgical practice bring a strong sense of discipline and attention to detail into my art work and that my art education pursuits have permitted me to develop some loosening of my style of realism.

Stuart Gourlay Early Spring Rain   Stuart Gourlay Afternoon at Bullhead Flat