James' studio work is essentially a synthesis of the two genres: his paintings combine his passion for landscape with a finely detailed knowledge of natural history. In his recent canvases, he integrates birds into his landscapes, while striving still to maintain the freshness and vigorous brushwork of a plein air study. The chosen bird is usually one that James heard or observed while working on location. But the bird is not simply pasted into the scene for illustrative or narrative purposes; instead, James' goal is to introduce an element of movement, color, or interest to the landscape. He hopes to evoke the poetic quality of birdwatching: that magical moment when bird, environment, and atmosphere merge into one memorable image. Kathy Foley, director of the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI has described James' recent canvases as being "ethereal, moody, and sensitive all at once."
James is a Signature Member of the prestigious Oil Painters of America, as well as the American Impressionist Society and Society of Animal Artists. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Animal Artists James currently serves as the Jury Chair and oversees the selection of the SAA's annual exhibition. For more than 30 years he has been a regular exhibitor in the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s prestigious "Birds in Art" annual and in 2011 was recognized as the Museum's 32nd Master Wildlife Artist.