A native of Chicago, James Eccles, who was born in 1885, studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, the Smith School of Art, and the Art Institute, all in Chicago. He studied with instructors Walter Clute, Frederick Fursman, Allen St. John, R. DeForest Shook, Louis Wilson, Antonin Steraba, and Albert Krehbiel.
After retirement from the Continental Bank of Chicago in 1945, Eccles created a new occupation for himself from his life-long hobby in art. His art interest provided an opportunity for travel, where he gathered sketching material for his classes and exhibitions. He was a member of the Hoosier Salon and he exhibited at the Palette and Chisel Club in Chicago. He painted extensively in Brown County, Indiana, Venezuela, the West Indies, British and Dutch Guiana, and the Orient. James Eccles died in Oak Park, Illinois in 1983.