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Tuesday Edition

A FIRST, Scott Jacob’s Art Retreat

Bikernet Sends Young Artist to Capture Scott’s Realism Secrets

By Frank Ball Jr. with photos by the SJ crew

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Some 15 minutes before we landed this pond-hopper in Rapid City, chewin’ on dry airplane pretzels and sippin' on complimentary coffee, I couldn't help to think about the next few days ahead and what was in store. At 23, I landed in the Badlands for the first time to attend Scott Jacob’s first artist retreat.

Excited as all hell and anxious, but at the same time drained from the full day of layovers and long security lines, I was ready to get to Deadwood, South Dakota and crash. I met a fellow retreat-ee at the connecting flight to Rapid City coming from LA. Olivia, Scott’s daughter, sent me her info on the flight in from LAX, an older blonde woman named Julia.

A piano musician from Long Beach who was a long-time collector of Scott Jacob’s artwork, she showed me her collection of an amazing Elvis that blew me away. Hanging directly besides it was a Marylyn Monroe. Both are from Scott’s series of wine- influenced portraits.

She shared with me a photo of the paintings and the wine bottles from the actual painting sitting beneath them on a coffee table in between two thick leather chairs and her vintage piano. After talking some more about the retreat, we figured out the cab situation from Rapid and arranged the lift to the Deadwood hotel.

On arrival to Deadwood we checked into the Grand Hotel. I lucked out with a corner room on the third floor. It had an amazing view of main street Deadwood. Couldn't sleep, so I took a stroll around town. Before leaving the lobby, I checked out a display of different Harley-Davidson paintings of Scott’s. This guy’s ability with realism is insane. I am trying to infuse more realism into my tattoo and painting efforts.

I hit the cool evening, empty, pre-rally streets and immediately could feel the history of this old western town. Pictures of Wild Bill at almost every corner and the old wooden structures brought the 1800s back. The painted and leafed intricate building details side with the sense of the old west through the characters and names of the saloons and gambling joints from the past. It must have been boot-tough and rattlesnake-mean area at one time, but there was also a sense of glamour.

I found the only spot in town serving food at midnight. I grabbed two hotdogs and cruised into the local bar where the sound of live music crept out the door. A Social Distortion cover band, made me feel like I was back at home, except I would have been surround with strip malls and plastic franchise joints. It’s funny because only a few hours earlier, I was actually talking to Mike Ness's son whom I tattooed over seven years ago. After a few jams, I headed back, on foot to the Grand.

I woke up at about 8:00, showered, grabbed some coffee and headed over to the studio. I arrived just before nine and met the crew.

I was greeted by Olivia and Scott and the rest of the Jacobs clan, along with the 12 retreat-ees who traveled from all over the country to attend this special event.

I felt honored and grateful to be a part of Scott’s first artist retreat in the history of his career. I cruised around Scott’s studio for a bit checking out the incredible layout and what seemed to be a never-ending supply of incredible paintings on display wall-to-wall.

The energy is this place was amazing and took me off-guard for a second, there was so much to take in. As we walked upstairs and into the action the actual art studio where Scott creates his masterpieces and works alongside daughter Alexa, nephew, and Dan.

I was also introduced to Darren, the film guy who was in town from New Orleans for the event. There we 12 canvases set up on easels adjacent to two tables set side-by-side. The easels were situated in organized rows, with one canvas up front, on which Scott would demonstrate.

After an introduction by the man himself explaining the paint volumes and brushes he would use during the retreat, the class went to work on a particular piece, which included a wine bottle with a glass and cork/cork screw on top of a wood grain table captured from a top angle looking down.

They began by starting in the top left corner on the wine piece, a dark purple with small hints of red, trying to cover the tops of the canvas with hard body/light body acrylics.

Scott explained the natural movements of the wrist and how to create lines with the proper strokes. He then described how to use a blow dryer to dry the background for light body paint to speed up the process.

Starting from left to right as if doing a tattoo they worked on the background first to build foundation. It was very interesting to watch the beginning process Scott used to produce the effect of capturing the angle of the design. The retreat-ees worked for a few hours, getting comfortable and familiar with the paints and brushes. Before I knew it, it was chow time.

We stepped out for lunch at the saloon across the way. It was a bar/restaurant/casino across the street about five or six store fronts down the brick paved street. The sun was out and shining bright as a pure Indian summer, and the air, clean and sweet, filled my lungs almost 100 miles away from any smog-polluted city.
The weather couldn't have been any better.

I scarfed a Caesar burger with a salad. I enjoyed my meal in the company of Scott, Alexa and Darren, sharing war stories and going over all the attractions Deadwood has to offer.

Getting back into the studio, we started on the second phase of the piece, which was beginning to work on the rim of the barrel. Then we moved onto the background, keepin’ it slightly blurry to keep eyes focused on the details in the front.

We used masking tape and pin stripping tape to cover up everything so we could work on the wood barrel shape before gradually working into wood grain.

Scott demonstrated the wood grain effect with a small brush with brown, then going in with the lighter wash to fade from the bottom to the top. Then he headed back in with dark brown to sharpen up the grain. The class worked on wood grain for the majority of the day, blending and giving lighter tones of brown to achieve the effect depicted in reference photo.

While hanging out, I got to talk to one of the digital artists on deck helping out with the retreat, Dan the man. Dan is an incredibly gifted digital artist/air brush artist/acrylic artist and overall badass. When it comes to creating anything by hand that has to do with art or capturing something on a canvas or actually pretty much anything, he has it covered.

I wore my favorite Harley shirt to the retreat. He actually designed it.

Dan recently moved from Denver to further pursue fine art rather than illustration, which he has mastered very successfully. He sold his business and now works alongside Scott and the Jacobs clan in Deadwood. It felt great to be in the presence of artists who really seemed capable of doing anything they set their minds too.

After class was dismissed, everyone went their separate ways. They gathered again in the evening for a show being performed by the Bare Naked Ladies. To my disappointment, the band was made up of three older dudes. But hell, they put on a good show.

The concert was held at the Grand and Scott and Olivia arranged a meet and greet with the band, along with VIP seating on a private stage center view from the rock stars. Later on in the dark Deadwood night, I hooked up with heads I met at the show and ventured further out into Deadwood, with some locals to check out the bars and night life, which seemed like it appeared out of nowhere in this small, sleepy town.

I hung out with a gentleman named Sean, who actually splits his time between Deadwood and my neck of the woods in West LA. Also ran around town with Deadwood's high school principle for a majority of the night… I’m not sure how that worked itself out. Haven't always had the best relationships with principals of high schools but this guy was cool as shit and funny as hell.

Hung out with Scott and Darren, and few others from the class then checked out a smoke shop. It used to be an opium den way back in the day. We puffed on cigars and listened to some of the best live blues I’ve heard in awhile.

The next day, the class focused on the grey blue portion of the painting in the bottom left corner. The students mixed three drops of white, one drop of blue and one drop of black, along with four or five drops of water to get the silverish grey needed for the job.

They used a similar mixing method to paint the handle of the corkscrew as well to give it the shiny metal look from the reference photo given. After working on these silverish tones for awhile they moved onto the wine bottle, mixing reds and painting bottle solid. Then shortly after taping off the label and carefully used a light body fill into the negative spaces within the taped-off surfaces.

Dan hooked me up with a fresh canvas and I went work trying to catch up with the rest of the class. It was fun using some of the new techniques I picked up. I didn’t get too far along in my painting, but really enjoyed zoning out for a bit in a style of art I’m normally not accustomed to. I’m definitely interested in pursuing more painting and realism in the near future. This style of fine art is amazing. All the extensive prep work that goes into it was very cool to learn about and watch in delicate action. Seeing first-hand, how it unfolds from being a pencil sketch to an almost live piece of art was inspirational to say the least.

The energy flowed high on the last day of the art retreat, with everyone including Scott’s crew, working against the clock to completed these paintings. Scott got everyone going and moving in the right direction.

For the most part, they all dialed in on specific elements of the painting. Then they worked on the other small details testing their ability to administer what they saw in the corkscrew details and share those elements through paint on their canvas.

The day continued with lots of small details and highlights added to the pieces.

After the awards ceremony, I was able to talk to Scott a bit more about the retreat and how it came about. I asked what sparked the idea of throwing this event, to which Scott said it was his daughter Olivia's idea. She brought it up a week or two after his accident that occurred on September 11th, 2016.


Scott took a spill on a gravel road on a run in Maryland. He was riding a vintage 1915 Harley-Davidson and he told me seven other riders went down on that same Cannon Ball Rally turn. Scott severely injured his shoulder on the arm he uses to paint; he showed me the scars to prove it.

Scott has made a full comeback and his new pieces of art are looking more incredible than ever. Using different methods of working; for example, resting his shoulder or elbow on the canvas while painting. He is still able to work with precision and grace as he brings images to life on canvas.

Scott Jacobs was the first officially licensed artist for Harley-Davidson and has been licensed with them for 23 years. He started the fine arts program and has had a long and successful career doing what he loves. Working alongside his family in his studio/home in Deadwood, South Dakota, he and his family relocated from San Diego and have really made a dent in the community of Deadwood.

I also asked Scott when and how he and Keith "Bandit" Ball met. He said, "at the Easyriders Ranch in ‘94." After talking for a little bit longer, and saying our goodbyes, I slipped out to meet up with an old friend of Bandit's named Adrian.

Dan walked me up to Adrian's amazine Rose House, where I was able to check out a house from the 1880s that Adrian has been restoring and customizing for the past few years. It was inspiring to see the hard work Adrian has been dedicating to his home and it was cool to hang out, hearing old stories about the rally in Sturgis and FXRs.

Before I split I mentioned to Adrian about how I was thinking about renting a bike from a dealership in Sturgis the next day to take a ride around Deadwood, when he offered to let me ride his '87 Softail. He said to call him at 8 o'clock the next morning to arrange a ride over to a warehouse where it's been resting on charge for the winter.

After leaving Adrian's, I met up with another friend of my grandfather's, Urban and his wife Jennifer, for dinner at a local steak house in Spearfish. After dinner, we went back to Urban's on Hamster Hill where I was able to check out his collection of FXRs.

Urban also lives in Los Angeles with Jennifer where he has another collection of motorcycles that go back to the late 1890s. He invited me out to see his collection once we got back to LA. I am looking forward to stopping by and checking them out after my return from Sturgis this year.

The next day, I woke up earlier and met up with Adrian. We headed back out to Spearfish to pick up the Softail. After firing it up, I ventured out on my own back into Deadwood to meet up with Sean to go out and take a ride. We cruised on over to Scott’s place were we met up with him Dan and Alexa.

We blasted out into Spearfish Canyon, but we weren't able to ride for to long because of the shuttle I had to catch back to Rapid City. But I was able to grab a solid couple hours of riding through the canyon.

It had been a week or two since I’d been back on a bike, and fuck, did it feel good! I’d been feeling really stressed and anxious a majority of the trip, and it all seemed to fade away as I gripped the throttle, felt the wind on my face and left the BS behind me.

The stretches of green and wildlife all around me really made me start to consider why the hell I’m living in concrete jungle of LA, spitting lanes at high speeds. Cheating death on a daily basis is fun and all, but this was the shit man.

Being out in the middle of nowhere, with no helmet and no traffic, with no cops to fuck with you. I really felt free for a second. I felt like this was something I could get used to. I’d had a lot of fleeting thoughts on that ride and a lot of gratitude as well. This was a great opportunity and experience. I was glad to be part of it all. I got to learn more about art, meet and hang out with a legend, and ride free through the Wild West, all within a few days.

Life’s good.

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Reader Comments

Great article Frank even if you did get a bad photo of me included. Have finally finished the painting of mine that you have the close - up of and do have to admit I am very happy with it.

Thanks for mentioning the ratio for the silver mixture. Somehow I didn't get it written down. Was fun visiting with you and glad you enjoyed my area of the country.

Thanks again for the memory refresher on the weekend that flew by too fast.

Charlotte Kahrs
Scranton, ND
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Editor Response Terrific. I'll pass this onto Franky.
Great info. I would like to attend a class like this, but there is enough practical information here to help me on my own. Will there be another class like this made available in the near future?

Thanks for posting this article.

John Edwards
Grand Junction, CO
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Editor Response Hey, I will send this to Scott right away and find out, or I'll see him in the Badlands hit him up for a whiskey.

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