James has successfully combined both a passion for wildlife and photography, with another of his life long interests, Fine Art, to produce very intricate and realistic wildlife paintings. Bird life is of particular interest to James, but his artworks extend to paintings of other Australian mammals as well as International wildlife. His artworks reflect the large amount of resource and reference he continually collects to make each painting as realistic and authentic as it can be.
Born in the Australian sea side city of Newcastle, New South Wales, James grew up admiring native birds on the family property at Wingham on the banks of the Manning River. He now lives near Maitland New South Wales with his wife and two sons and continues to visit the family property that has given him so much inspiration. James has never undertaken any formal art studies or training and takes pride in the fact that he is completely self-taught.
“I think an artist understands artistic processes more if they try to figure them out for themselves. This ultimately leads to a very individual style”
Each of his paintings is thoroughly researched, aided by all his own resource material from sketches to photography. The final composition may be components of many sketches and photographic images collected on walks and visits to many of Australia’s National Parks and bush reserves. Travelling extensively in his four wheel drive into fairly remote and off the track locations James finds and photographs all the wildlife, landscape and props for each of his paintings. He returns to his studio with collections of objects found in the bush, branches, lichens, leaves, blossom, and native fruits. ”Everywhere I go I carry a camera, a tripod, and a notebook to capture some of those most unique moments in nature. “I might spend a day or a week away from the studio collecting subject matter for the next series of paintings”.
Once the reference material for an artwork has been found the real work begins. A considerable amount of planning and preparation is then given to each paintings geometric and colour composition to ensure that real authentic look. Consideration for correct and unique lighting, realistic bird and animal posture and overall painting colour harmony are three of the most important elements of a successful work.
James paints exclusively on Ampersand Claybord. This product has been produced for artists with a Kaolin clay coated on one side of a hardboard.
“This product is perfect for my style of painting. It provides a very hard smooth surface ideal for rendering intricate detail. Most importantly the hard surface ensures that the lustre of paint is maintained, critical in representing the beautiful bright and sometimes iridescent colours of Australian wildlife”.
“Acrylics are my choice of paint. Acrylic paint suits my style of painting. Its fast drying time means I can get on with detailing fairly quickly and where the paint can be applied as a thick opaque layer or as a transparent wash or tint.”
James composes every painting as uniquely as possible. So you will never find two paintings that are similar. Every aspect of each painting is completely derived from his own reference. Over the years James has successfully taught himself to render everything from fine and weathered textures of timber, rough rusty old steel farm implements, to soft green rainforest mosses and beautifully backlit eucalypt leaves. Feathers and fur require the same detailed and realistic rendering as do his backgrounds and props. “Every animal has different fur or hair type. So it is a continual challenge, as it is with feathers, to do justice to the particular subject”.
“I love being able to play with light, to highlight a subject’s gesture, or to recreate the atmosphere of the wild environment. A part of the artist’s impression is captured in the subject, the mood, the light, a story, or the spirit of a native bird can all be manipulated to satisfy the artists will”.
James exhibits in numerous exhibitions throughout Australia during the year. He is a member of Kevin Hills Top Ten Australian Artists and exhibits at numerous exhibitions with this group across Australia each year. His work is also on display at one of Australia’s leading galleries the Morpeth Gallery in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and Articles Gallery Stanwell Park New South Wales.
He is a member of the Romantics fine art group where his artworks are exhibited beside some of Australia’s finest Landscape and Marine artists.
James artworks are in high demand and has his works published in a number of magazine articles such as The Australian Artist, Hunter Lifestyle, and Australian Birdkeeper. The Kevin Hills Australian Top Ten Book has featured his artworks since 2006.
Jason products New Zealand has a selection of his artworks of Australian Birds presented on a set of placemats and coasters which are being distributed throughout the world.
Collectors of his paintings in Australia and around the world are always very keen to view his latest works and commissions form are large portion of the years work load. James has hundreds of followers on Facebook and Instagram who regularly get to view the finished artwork before being exhibited.
James was selected in 2015 to join the Worlds leading Wildlife Artists group supporting the environment, The Artists for Conservation (AFC). Since his appointment James has had two of his works selected each year for the prestigious Artists for Conservation exhibition in Vancouver Canada alongside many of the worlds top Wildlife Artists. Each year his artworks have been selected to appear in the AFC book and calendar.