On Leaving the Royal College of Art in 1974 James Horton has pursued a career as a professional Painter. A few years after leaving the RCA he was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists. The constant theme in his work is working from life, whether portrait, landscape or interiors. Much of what he does centres around travelling and working on location. Anything that is produced on the spot is rarely adjusted back in the studio, preserving the essence of a time and a place. However, very often work made direct from life will provide the basis for producing larger scale paintings done in the studio.
James Horton has always been an active portrait painter but believes like John Singer Sargent that to be a good portrait painter one should produce a variety of work made from life. He works mainly in oil and watercolour but also in pastel, one of his books being 'Pastel Techniques'. Apart from his own books, James Horton has written numerous articles for a variety of magazines and his work is also featured in many other books and articles. As a teacher he taught part-time in several different art schools until 1990 and now has occasional classes in his studio along the lines of the old atelier system where students can study with a working painter. In 2002 he accompanied HRH Prince Charles with 'The friends of Mount Athos' as artist in residence with a special brief to draw and paint the monastery architecture. Currently he works a great deal in India and since 2000 he has been taking groups to India and also accompanies painting groups to other locations that include Tuscany, Venice, North Africa and Jordan.