Born and raised in Ayrshire, where he continues to live to this day, James studied painting and printmaking at Glasgow School of Art. Graduating in the early sixties he subsequently taught Art for many years with many of his students going on to develop successful careers as artists themselves.
In recent years James has spent time in the West Indies and Brazil yet he continues to receive a great deal of inspiration from the scenery around his Ayrshire home. Although the majority of his work is landscape based, his compositions are distinctive in their inclusion of human figures or the suggestion of their recent presence.
Building his paintings up in loose, expressive layers of oils allows James to add a dynamism to his scenes as if they are playing out before the viewer's eyes, using the texture and lustre of the paint to accentuate the interplay of light and shade in his work.