With a degree in biology in 1987 followed by a masters degree, Jim assumed he was on his way to a career in biology. However, a summer Fellowship at the Delta Waterfowl Research Station in Manitoba, Canada, exposed Jim to Delta’s rich artistic heritage and he realized that he wanted to get back into painting. Jim zealously pursued his art, taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, and learning bird anatomy at the Field Museum of Natural History. This direct approach to study and painting was further cemented as Jim began studying the work of Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Bruno Liljefors, and Lars Jonsson.
In 1993, Jim and his wife Joan moved back to Minnesota, where Jim continued his studies, and exhibited his work. Today his work can be found in galleries and private collections across North America.