Born in 1970, Florida native Bradley Cooley started sculpting at age 15 with his father, the late Bradley Cooley, Sr. who passed away in 2017. Together, this father and son due have created over 40 life-size and larger-than-life-size sculptures and an additional 60 tabletop pieces for private collectors and Governmental projects. Cooley’s sculptures are featured in over 15 different museums and galleries and have won him numerous awards and recognition over the years. Bronze By Cooley pieces are on display throughout the US and abroad.
Bradley and his wife Jenny live in Jefferson County along the Aucilla river and have two children, Marissa and Holden. Although his level of skill and talent is boldly apparent in his work, Bradley is remarkably humble about his artistic abilities. Through his 37 years of sculpting, Bradley has enjoyed sharing his knowledge and experience with other aspiring artists, including teaching 3D Art and conducting studio seminars for art students attending surrounding schools and educational programs.
The process of creating a bronze sculpture is complex and has multiple stages. The first stage is the conception of the project, where a lot of time is spent sketching and rendering an idea or concept on paper. Bradley begins his works by using photographs, or sketches to create a form that will eventually turn into a three-dimensional piece. Once he is satisfied with an idea, the next step is creating a metal skeleton. The skeleton serves as the structure for the and is wrapped with a wire mesh giving it form. When satisfied with the armature, it is time to begin adding the clay. Bradley uses Roma Plastilina, an extremely pliable modeling clay that is oil-based and non-hardening. Clay is added to the wire, roughly at first just to build dimensions, and then is carefully refined into shape. Then the details begin. Bradley spends lots and lots of hours detailing every piece. A finished bronze sculpture can take anywhere from six to 12 months to complete, depending on its size. A full-sized figure can take nine to twelve months, while tabletop pieces take six to eight months. Once a sculpture is fully formed in clay, it must then undergo a series of molding steps before it can be cast in bronze, a process that takes an additional four months to complete. When sculpting a person, Bradley works very closely with the person or the family members, if deceased, and includes them in every step along the way. When one project has reached completion, and the sculpture has been molded, the clay is then removed from the metal skeleton and reused for future projects.
“Sculpting is a craft that takes a lot of hard work and dedication. You do get faster over time and learn anatomy better, but I do not think you ever master the art of sculpting. I am constantly learning.”