|David S. Sumner,
Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Emeritus
Dr. Sumner first began
painting in high school.
He learned basic techniques by watching his aunt, an accomplished amateur, work with oils and pastels and even picked up some pointers from the local sign painter, who mass-produced landscapes for restaurants in rural North Carolina. In college at the University of North Carolina, in Medical School at Johns Hopkins, and even during his residency at the University of Washington (1959-66), Sumner produced a few oils. It was not until he was in the Army, stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska (1967-70), that he discovered watercolor, which seemed well adapted to depicting the subarctic scenery.
Upon returning to the faculty at the University of Washington, he became immersed in writing a book, virtually ending any art work. In 1975, Sumner joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine as Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Section of Vascular Surgery, a position he held for 23 years until he retired in July of 1998. During this period, clinical surgery, research, and training of residents and fellows left little time for nonacademic pursuits. Retirement provided the free time, and the urging of friends and family supplied the impetus to resume painting, a hobby that he had neglected for 30 years.
Sumner’s foreign and domestic travels, excursions on the back roads of Sangamon County, visits to Lincoln Memorial Garden, and just things around home provide more than ample subject material. About two-thirds of his paintings are watercolors; the rest oils. His work was exhibited in April 2002 in the lobby of SIU School of Medicine, and again in January 2003 at the Sangamo Club. As a member of the Prairie Art Alliance, his paintings are included in the ongoing exhibits at the H. D. Smith Gallery in the Hooglan Center for the Arts, Springfield.