Biography of James Hough
James was born in Newcastle Australia in 1960 and did not start painting professionally till 2003. He now lives at Maitland in the Hunter Valley and has established his family and studio there. He practiced as an Engineering Surveyor for 23 years and as a part time wildlife artist from 1999 – 2003. James Hough has combined a deep passion for Australian wildlife and the environment with another of his life long interests, Fine Art. All wildlife is of particular interest to James, and it has been a natural progression to combine his knowledge of birds and animals and their environment with his art skills. His artwork reflects the deep respect he has for the natural environment. He has had no formal art tuition at all but relies on his keen sense of observation and the enormous pleasure that painting gives him.
Each of his subjects 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. Landscape has become a very popular inclusion to his wildlife art of late. He travels extensively throughout Australia collecting much of the resource needed for his work. The north east coast of Australia provides Jim with a great diversity of native flora and fauna, which has become prominent in his work. Trips into the Australian outback in his 4wd have also provided great inspiration.
A considerable amount of thought and research is combined to ensure that each work is as accurate and pleasing to the eye as it can be. Each new work is begun by collecting as much resource material from his own photographic records and sketches and confirming the particular animal or bird’s habitat in various written publications. He more often than not visits the bird’s habitat to get a feel for its environment and so incorporate some of the landscape of its surrounds in the final image. He returns to his studio with collections of branches, lichens, leaves, blossom, and gum nuts.
James paints exclusively on Clayboard using Acrylic paint (Atelier Interactive by Chroma Australia) and Gouache where layers of transparent color are used to build tonal effects. The process begins with a sketch where composition and balance are critical to the final work. Color visualization and composition comes next. The background is painted first and is critical to the development of atmosphere and for capturing habitat likeness. The detailed highlighting of a work comes next. Shadows and highlights are applied, detailed cracks in old timber are given depth, the intricate formation of bird feathers, the rounding of branches and a general overview of the final composition is given and adjusted by adding a few dead leaves, and cobwebs. James exhibits in numerous exhibitions throughout Australia during the year. His work is also on display at one of Australia’s leading galleries the Morpeth Gallery in the Hunter valley, New South Wales.
James was elected as a member of the Kevin Hill’s Australian Top Ten Artists during 2008 and exhibits with this group all over Australia throughout the year. His work is featured in the 2007 and 2010 Australian Top Ten Artists books. As well as exhibiting successfully in galleries throughout Australia his work has been published in a number of magazine articles such as The Australian Artist magazine, Birds Australia and Hunter Lifestyle and is well represented in many private collections in Australia and around the world.
“There is nothing more rewarding than to finish a work and to be able say that it captures that moment in time that was unique in the natural world and that onlookers will observe for the feeling or emotion of the work rather than its correctness. Finding a passion in your life as I have done with wildlife art and pursuing it creates a great deal of confidence in ones ability and a great sense of fulfillment. I have a great desire to contribute to the long-term preservation of our unique Australian native environment and I desire that my artwork will encourage and motivate all to this end. Being an artist is very important to me. It has opened my eyes to the splendid color and moods of this great country, the unique flora and fauna, and to the overwhelming responsibility we have to preserve what little is left.”