James Dignan is an English-born artist of British, Irish, and Kiwi descent who has lived in Otago since arriving in New Zealand at the age of eleven in 1975. He attended Tokomairiro High School in Milton before heading to Otago University, from which he graduated with a BA and MSc in Psychology, specialising in visual perception and aesthetics.
James's interests have always lain in creative disciplines, and, alongside his painting, he is a writer, poet, and songwriter/musician.
He writes a regular column on art for the "Otago Daily Times", and has had both articles and poetry published in several other publications. He regularly performs both poetry and music around Dunedin and elsewhere.
James is also a tour guide for monthly tours around Dunedin art galleries.
James began painting seriously in 2000, and has had seven solo exhibitions. He has two main areas of artistic interest: close-cropped portraiture and townscapes, both painted in a style he refers to as "photoexpressionism". His process begins with taking photographs or using found photographic images, then distorting them via computer software, before painting the resulting image in acrylic on canvas or board. His favoured style, particularly for the townscapes, involves "posterising" the images, rendering them in large blocks of solid colour. This often leaves the resulting images looking from the distance like screen prints or photographs, though on closer inspection they reveal a loose brushwork style.