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Chester County Press

Fleeting moments and emotions, captured in paint

10/25/2016 11:13AM ● By J. Chambless

'Pretty Perfect'

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The first thing that strikes you about Sherrill Cooper's solo show at Bookplace in Oxford is the light glowing in each of her small paintings. Then you appreciate her skillful handling of the paint – vibrant but exacting, suggesting motion, and including just enough detail for you to fill in the scene for yourself.

Cooper, who has had a successful career as an illustrator, knows exactly how much is enough. The paintings look like they've been done quickly, but that may be incorrect. The breezy style is, however, captivating.

There are some snapshot-like moments that take on emotional resonance in her hands, such as the young women walking away from the viewer in “Pretty Perfect.” Cooper's depictions of horses and riders are also fine – particularly the deep blue sky in the tiny “Storm's Coming,” and the violet foreground shadow in “Dinner Time,” in which the horses are depicted with a minimum of brushstrokes.

The unusual floor-up perspective of “Order Another” draws you in immediately, as does the seated man on a smoke break (“Ten Minute Break”), in which the cigarette is depicted with a 1/8-inch dab of white paint, and an orange dot with a wisp of smoke.

The neat trick is that these paintings – with details rendered in sketchy swipes of paint – have a nearly photographic quality when they're viewed at a distance. It's a rather dazzling effect, and it makes this collection of 20 vibrant paintings well worth a visit.

In her artist's statement for the show, Cooper writes, “My aim is to distill information into its simplest form. I apply each stroke carefully, trying to capture the complexity of their emotions and environment without the clutter of too much detail. I am satisfied when I have communicated an attitude, essence, expression, and emotion at a certain moment in time.”

That she certainly does.

“Painting With Bravado,” a solo show by Sherrill Cooper, opens at Bookplace (2373 Baltimore Pike, Oxford) on Oct. 30, with an artist's reception from 5 to 8 p.m. It continues through Nov. 19. The book shop and gallery is open Fridays through Sundays. Visit

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].