From a Massachusetts seascape to a country afternoon in Indiana, the intense color, light and delicate shading of the natural world is more tangible in person.

Patricia Bardes has enough experience in her long career as an artist to use a photograph as inspiration for her paintings while at work in her indoor studio.

But if the opportunity presents itself, she would rather paint en plein air, out where the landscape comes alive.

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“You learn so much more by seeing it,” she said. “Photographs are great for studio work, but until you learn doing it first-hand, then after that, the photos make more sense to you. Sometimes, photos lie. The scene isn’t exactly like it really is.”

Bardes is the featured artist in July at the Southside Art League. Her collection of pastels, acrylics and oil paintings showcase her love for natural scenes.

The exhibition will be a catalog of her extensive experience throughout the world, from painting traditional Egyptian boats called falukas on the Nile River to fishing boats tied up in New England to the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Whether traveling the world or staying at home in hilly outdoors of Brown County, Bardes has found that the natural world offers the most inspiration for her work.

Maritime fog blurs the rocky, pine tree-filled landscape of Monhegan, Maine. The golden crispness of autumn leaves and dried corn stalks offset the October blue sky in the Midwest.

Pastel shadows extend from an adobe chapel in the American Southwest.

“I like the up-close perspective of scenes,” she said. “I love bright colors, and that usually shows in my work.”

Like many artists, Bardes discovered the passion for art when she was a young child. Growing up in central Indiana, she was given the opportunity as a student to attend Herron School of Art, where she encountered a wide array of mediums and styles that helped shape her own creativity.

Her education continued as an adult, when Bardes attended art classes part-time at Herron and Indiana University in the 1960s. But raising five children limited the time she could devote to her craft.

Not until she moved to Nashville in 1980 did her talent fully awaken.

Being surrounded by many other artists and having the support of local galleries and organizations allowed her to more fully develop her style and structure.

“My kids were older, and I finally had time to concentrate on it,” she said. “I worked in an art supply and framing store, so I saw all of this great work that came through to be framed. When I could find time, I tried to paint for an hour or two myself.”

Bardes was drawn to the Impressionistic style of painting: gauzy colors and light that gave scenes a serene, dreamlike quality.

“I loved the looseness of it,” she said. “I think things with tight detail are great — I respect that type of artwork. But it’s not my style to do.”

Bardes is a member of the Brown County Art Gallery, and it was through her involvement in that group that she met Bev Mathis. Mathis is an artist and painting instructor at the Southside Art League, and invited her to be a visiting artist in the Greenwood gallery.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s always nice to meet new people and exhibit your work,” Bardes said.

In addition to the Brown County Art Gallery, Bardes is a member of the Indiana Artists Club, Indiana Heritage Arts, Hoosier Salon and Indiana Plein Air Painters, among other art organizations.

If you go

Patricia Bardes exhibition

When: Through July 30

Where: Southside Art League Off Broadway gallery, 299 E. Broadway St., Greenwood

What: A collection of pastels, acrylics and oil paintings by Nashville-based artist Patricia Bardes

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday

Reception: 6 to 8 p.m. today at the gallery. Light refreshments will be served.


Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.