James Wilson graduated from the Central School of Art and Design, London (now part of the University of the Arts) in 1986, where he was taught by renowned stained glass artist Patryk Reyntiens OBE, the painter Cecil Collins and printmaker Norman Ackroyd CBE, R.A. From 1986 -1989 James worked as a copper plate printer and exhibited his paintings at the Crypt Gallery in London. He then began to train as a teacher and has since taught in secondary schools both in London and Edinburgh and completed a masters in English Literature. From 1989 until the present, James has spent most summers painting in the Correze region of France, an area which has provided most of the inspiration for his 'mindscapes'; it is for James 'a beautiful, dark and unspoilt place'.
He says of his own work: 'My painting process is slow and laborious and my images are 'hard won', often taking many years to resolve. I am a landscape artist but my paintings are more about the spirit of place, 'genius loci', than an exact representation of the place itself. My paintings encompass mood, thought and feelings and often contain references to contemporary poetry and the art of the past. As key images develop, they become increasingly self referential and I have painted the same landscape many times over, increasingly allowing my own work and the process of painting itself to guide me. I have been inspired by many artists and writers over the years but perhaps my most important influence has been the poet Kenneth White, who coined the term 'mindscape'.