Gonzales was born and reared in Galveston and Williston, Massachusetts. After receiving his education in private schools, Gonzales became a cotton broker in Galveston, working in his father's business. He became a part-time painter while in his early twenties. Winslow Homer's brother was in business in Galveston during the time and enabled Gonzales to visit and paint with Homer for nine summers in Prouts Neck, Maine. Homer became his life-long friend. Although he continued working in his father's business, Gonzales visited European art centers on an extended tour in 1892. During 1894, he studied three weeks in the summer under William John Whittemore in Annisquam, Massachusetts. In 1895, he began developing as a painter during a lengthy visit in Mexico. In 1900, he worked under Walter Lansil in Boston. Upon choosing to become a full-time painter, he divested himself of his business interests in Galveston; and in 1907, studied under Lowell Birge Harrison in a summer session of the Art Students League of New York, in Woodstock, New York. In 1908, he and his new wife toured the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy. The trip lasted over a year and while there, studied in Florence with Jorge Gambini, a watercolorist. He produced several paintings while there.
By 1912, Gonzales worked the winters in San Antonio and Galveston, and the summers in Woodstock, where he built a studio in 1919. Other locations where he painted were Monhegan Island, Maine, Taos, New Mexico, and Mexico. After 1926, he spent most of his time in Woodstock. He died at his sister's home in Galveston, after visiting an exhibition of his works in San Antonio.