James Lumsden

Artist focus
May 1, 2020

James Lumsden was born in Inverness in 1964. He lives and works between Edinburgh and Point on the Isle of Lewis. 


James Lumsden’s work is primarily concerned with process – building translucent glazes of paint until an illusion of light and depth are achieved. Using an historical glazing method, yet utilising modern acrylic paint and mediums, the process involves the application of multiple (up to 30 or more) thin glazes of acrylic paint and gloss medium. Each layer is dragged, pulled or manipulated with various implements – the process being repeated layer upon layer until the painting begins to emerge. Arrived at by both chance and deliberation, the final painting reveals varying chromatic strata, which can be seen through the translucence and depth of the work.


‘My primary concern as a painter is the creation of a sense of light, colour, space, depth and feeling. I build multiple thin layers of translucent colour; layer upon layer, glaze upon mark upon glaze – concealing, revealing, action, reaction, until a sense of light and depth is achieved within the process.

Each painting is imbued with an internal light. Not a depiction of light but the search for a sense of light emanating from within the painting. I want to see something brought to life, struggled for, with a sense of having its own history, and reflective of the time spent on its creation.


My aim is to create something positive and affirming which is filled with both light and darkness, contrasts, hesitations and contradictions – open paintings which allow the viewer’s imagination to search, wander or react at will.

These paintings are concerned with looking at and analysing what is presented, both aesthetically and metaphorically. I hope the viewer will be seduced by the work, inquire into some sense of its making, look beneath the surface and question how it has been achieved.