James Furneaux was born in Aberdeen in 1935 and trained as an architect for a year before studying at Gray's School of Art in 1954-58. His transition from architecture to art was heavily encouraged and influenced by his art teacher from Aberdeen Grammar School, Charles Hemingway, who identified and nurtured his talents. James taught art at Ellon Academy and then from 1965 to 1988 taught art and design at Aberdeen College, before taking early retirement in 1988 to concentrate on his own art. He died in Aberdeen in February 2013.
James was most noted for making the Granite City his muse, "painting Aberdeen's lesser known buildings and landmarks from unusual perspectives." His brief, early training in architecture with Jenkins and Marr was often apparent in his depiction of the city's buildings. His son Paul, also an artist, observed: "He cannot deny his love for this city...it comes across in his work." James's disctintive style was not intended to produce postcard scenes, but to encapsulate the atmosphere and mood of an every-day setting, making one view their city with fresh eyes and capture the acute observation and passion which James demonstrated.
While at Gray's School of Art, James met and fell in love with fellow student Mavis Davidson, whom he married in 1958. They had four sons together, living in Tarnes until the mid 1960s when James began to teach at the City's College of Commerce. As a teacher, he was "intense, dynamic, perceptive, inspirational and crazy", patrolling the studio "like a man possessed." When the college closed in the 1980s, James continued to teach his students for a short time before his early retirement.
When working on a new piece during his retirement, James often worked outside all day to draw and paint, before visiting his favourite pub - The Prince of Wales - to unwind, cigar in hand. He was said to have loved company and to have an excellent sense of humour, with a liking for the classical music of Rachmaninov, Monty Python and the Goons. James is survived by his wife Maris, his sister Doris, his sons Paul, Gerry, Mark and David, and his grandaughter Silvie.