The way most people journal with words, Stephen Gates journals with art. "I communicate with visual image - creating oil paintings, pastel chalk drawings, and woodblock prints that are mostly figurative. The poet, Rumi, wrote, "When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving through you - a joy. " The best of my work is done like this and gives me that feeling.

The majority of Gates' pastel work is done "en plein air" with the exception of several works done from memory and imagination. His drawings typically feature brightly colored scenes of the Caribbean and the upper Mississippi and St. Croix River valleys.









"My work is largely autobiographical. The colors of my palette reflect my life and travels. Most of my subject matter is taken from my time spent near water. Rivers, lakes, and seas have, for me, always been synonymous with life; my thoughts and art revolve around the feelings that emanate from them."

His work is heavily influenced by French post-impressionism and Fauvism and has been described as "Surreal Impressionism." Color takes center stage in my art," explains Gates. "I use color to express emotions and sensations and to illustrate the feeling of a particular scene. The outlines of the objects in my drawings are less important and less realistic than the colors, which I always try to make as authentic as possible. I like to use the rules of art as ladders and bridges, rather than boundaries. I was the type of child, for instance, who would color outside the lines."

David Feinberg, Professor of Art at the University of Minnesota and 1997 juror of the Phipps Members Show in Hudson, WI, gave him an Award of Excellence citing his work as "... very special, very real. One must know quality when one sees it, and this work has quality."

Gates began his art education in 1966 at St. Cloud State University and continued it at the College of Visual Arts in St Paul and the University of Minnesota. His drawings can be found in juried, solo, and group shows as well as in private collections.