Gauld's innovations in painting chiefly emerge in his early decorative pictures, rather than the popular, rural Ayrshire paintings he produced from the mid-1890s onwards. He was a good friend of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and had studied part-time at Glasgow School of Art. His first works to attract public attention were his illustrations in the 'Glasgow Weekly Citizen', which reflected his interest in Japanese prints. These also influenced his easel paintings and designs for stained-glass windows. His largest and most challenging project was a series of stained-glass windows for St Andrew's Scottish Church in Buenos Aires, manufactured by the Glasgow glass company, Guthrie and Wells.