The starting point from which James paints comes from using old photographs of mostly working class people in everyday street scenes. He aims to depict the moods of the people, with these portraits taking on an often ethereal quality.
Using oils to make these portraits, he works with different tools to apply and manipulate the paint with various methods. Pushing and pulling different features to the forefront of the painting. These are worked over multiple times, layers being added and scraped away, creating spaces from which the portrait forms.