James prefers to paint direct from life and often works up to about 30x40 en plein air. However, he creates his most refined and largest paintings in the studio from his plein air references. He hikes or backpacks several hundred miles a year, looking for unique perspectives and a deeper connection with nature. He works to create paintings which not only visually portray a scene, but convey the emotions of the actual experience. Although inspired by a combination of Romanticism and Impressionism, McGrew paints with a style that is largely self taught and uniquely his own.