Steve James and his drawing "Bloody Big Truck"

Steve James and his drawing “Bloody Big Truck”

Stephen James is an artist and an art teacher. Steve was born in 1957 at Cessnock, NSW, Australia and grew up in the Hunter Valley.

He studied in Sydney at the University of New South Wales’ College of Fine Arts, completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1992 and a Master of Art in 1994.

He is an artist  whose work has explored figuration, abstraction , sculpture and digital media. He has exhibited in commercial galleries in Sydney and Canberra since 1995.

He is  an innovative teacher of art. From 2003 to 2010, he ran a private art school at the historic Branxton Inn Arthouse in the scenic Hunter Valley Wine Country. He continues to teach at So-Lo Art space in Maitland.

In 2013,Stephen was awarded a Research Higher Degree scholarship, and from2014 is undertaking full-time  Doctorial studies at The University of Newcastle.

In 2010,He  undertook a six month  Australia Council/ Arts NSW ‘artist in schools residency’ project ( The Greta Project) and designed and implemented an innovative art and creativity program for local schools in association with Cessnock Regional Art Gallery and Coal &Allied.

With Aftercare Maitland, he  ran an art support program for people with mental health issues. He has also run special workshops with BIRO (brain injury respite options) and other community organisations.

Steve has developed an original, creative approach to art learning which has proven highly effective for children and adults, novice and experienced artists alike. It has also proven a very effective approach for students with a wide range of special needs.


In his own art practice, Steve’s visual language draws heavily from the Expressionist and surrealist traditions but with a post-modern sensibility.

Music, film, popular culture and social media as well as more traditional sources provide inspiration for his work. He is always keen to cross boundaries in media and style in his creative process.

His paintings often explore mythical themes in contemporary contexts.

His works have been described as tense, mythological compositions executed in jewel-like colours that evoke Rouault, Beckman and certain Melbourne romantic painters. (Art Beat by Anna Johnson, Sydney Morning Herald).

Artist, teacher and co-author of visual arts text, ‘A.R.T: art, research, theory’, Craig Malyon, is enthusiastic about  Stephen’s  work. “There is something in his painting technique, a lustre that draws you inside the canvas. It’s in the glaze and the light, you are not stopped at the surface.”

Stephen’s first solo exhibition was in 1995 at Crawford Gallery, East Sydney, where he went on to have several successful solo exhibitions.

Since this time, Stephen James has exhibited regularly in Sydney and Canberra( including the prestigious Chapman Gallery) and has had several successful solo exhibitions including having his work selected for the highly regarded “Salon des Refusés” at the H.R. Ervin Gallery and “The Alice Prize” for contemporary Australian art.

He was named a finalist in the Inaugural Canberra Art Prize and in November 2005, Stephen was named a finalist in the Cromwells Art Prize.

Since returning to the Hunter Valley,as well as exhibiting regularly in Sydney and Canberra, Steve has undertaken a public sculpture commission for Wine country Tourism/Tourism Australia and a major painting commission for a regional development company. In 2012, he exhibited a major solo show at Cessnock Regional Art Gallery.

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