Published by Chicago Art Magazine in Articles, Featured
Saturating under the varnish of Scott Jacobs’ photorealistic paintings are the markings of a fulfilled life. From the rumbling of a Harley Davidson Twin Cam engine to the enticing tones of a delicate Cabernet Sauvignon, Jacobs’ paintings unlock a side of life that’s carefree and gratifying. Through his depictions of motorcycles, wine and spirits, and classic cars, Jacobs reveals something more: his passion for life and the road well-traveled. From skydiving and body building to road-tripping and starting a family, he’s racked up a laundry list of remarkable adventures. Through it all, Scott’s family and paintings have become his life. With his many inspirations, Scott has been working with Park West Gallery to expand their collection of photorealistic paintings, doing what he loves every day.
Scott’s first introduction to the art world was not as a painter. When he was growing up, he naturally gravitated toward a more creative lifestyle. He loved art in its many forms and began sketching with pencils, showing a natural talent in drawing. When he turned nineteen, Scott decided to buy a failing art gallery and before he knew it, he had inaugurated Reflections in Canvas in Westfield, New Jersey. While Scott was busy developing his business, painting worked its way in.
Until his wife bought him a new set of paints, Scott hadn’t picked up a brush in years. Getting his chops back, Jacobs wanted to assess his audience before he did anything serious. Exhibiting under the pseudonym “Escoteté”, he hung his art on his own gallery’s walls, and sure enough, received an overwhelmingly honest response from his clients. While he had dabbled with Cubism and abstraction, he received the best feedback for his photorealistic paintings, pushing him to really develop this style.
He began by painting celebrities. Joan Lunden, Kathy Ireland, and Malcolm Forbes Sr. were some of his initial subjects. But in 1993, at the suggestion of his friend Ron Copple, Scott branched out, incorporating his love for motorcycles. Scott’s first Harley paintings were Fat Boy and Live to Ride. Within sixty days, his paintings were recognized by the Chief of the Board of Harley Davidson and his career as the first officially licensed Harley Davidson artist began.
Scott begins his paintings with a photo of his subject, focusing on angles and details. He maps out a basic outline in pencil before he even wets a brush, preparing to improvise when needed. As he paints, he works in layers, taping and masking sections to maintain fine edges and outlines. These sections are usually part of the foreground, the first stage of his painting. Once the foreground is established, it’s taped off for clarity while he paints the background. And while Scott’s artistic talent began with a pencil, it stayed within the lines; his paintings are so detailed that his brush is the size of a pencil point (000). After anywhere between two-hundred and four-hundred hours of work, the painting is sealed with varnish, locking in the color.
Motorcycles can be tricky to paint, as are other complex objects. Depending on the age and condition of the bike, some of his paintings take longer than it took to make the bikes themselves. Scott gets every detail perfect – or better than – improvising when necessary to heighten colors and set the stage. While ninety-five percent of Scott’s work is done with his tiny brushes, an airbrush comes in handy to create whatever effect he needs. After everything is complete, months may have gone by. His most complicated painting was commissioned by Harley Davidson, called “100 Great Years”. The painting took more than four-hundred hours to complete – his longest work to date.
Harleys are so entwined in the Jacobs’ family lifestyle that even his daughters, Olivia and Alex, have bikes. Riding to brunch on a Sunday morning is a favorite tradition of theirs, as is attending the Sturgis and Daytona festivals every year. Connecting his paintings with the reality of the bikes and their riders is very important to Scott. He and his family set up in booths and hotels, soaking in the scene. Visitors can catch Scott in the act, working on a painting while he’s there, too. For some people, it’s hard to believe Scott paints the canvases himself, convinced that they’re photographs. One man actually thought they were paint-by-numbers – even as he watched Scott paint.
With the success of Scott’s Harley Davidson paintings, he’s been able to branch out, becoming the official licensed artist for Chevy’s Corvette division and Mattel’s “Hot Wheels”. Marilyn Monroe Estates also licensed Scott to paint their Marilyn Merlot wine label, as did Elvis Presley Enterprises. A type of collecting in its own right, each wine or spirit label is an integral way for Scott to showcase his eye for detail. From the most intricate lettering to the precise drops in a glass, each painting is flawless.
Since 2005, Park West Gallery has been working with Scott, selling his art internationally via land and cruise art auctions. With the popularity of his paintings, Scott has translated his photorealism to new media, perfecting the arts of lithography, serigraphy, and giclée. He’s been featured on Jay Leno’s Garage and in countless publications. In 2009, he published his second book – The Art of Scott Jacobs: the Complete Works.
Constantly adding to his impressive résumé, Scott has become an internationally respected artist. Collectors like Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, and Jon Elway are able to appreciate the innumerable hours he spends on each of his paintings, adjusting for the most minuscule of details to make each piece perfect. With the support of his wife and two daughters, Scott is able to convey a kind of lifestyle that’s inspires thousands of collectors to jump on their bikes and see the world – one of the most rewarding experiences of all.
Originally posted at: http://chicagoartmagazine.com/2012/03/park-west-gallery-showcases-the-photorealism-of-scott-jacobs/