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Frances McMahon - Watercolour Bird Artist

Each image may be purchased as a canvas print, framed print, metal print, and more! Every purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Frances McMahon


Born in Armidale, NSW in 1965, AUSTRALIAN artist Frances McMahon (nee Hardy) has lived in Canberra for most of her life.
Since the age of five she firmly decided that she was going to paint birds, and since then has had an undying and passionate interest in illustrating our beautiful native species.
Frances is entirely self taught.
She sold her first painting when she was fourteen, to renowned artist Paul Ashton Delprat, principal of the Julian Ashton Art School.
Her commissioned works hang in private collections in Australia, New York, Minnesota and Ontario, Canada.


Developed over many years, her self-taught technique consists of airbrushed (liquid acrylic) backgrounds, with the main work completed in watercolour and gouache. Using a minute brush, her elaborate paintings take between 30 and 230 hours to compete. The technique is time-consuming but straightforward: an initial pale wash is then worked many times over with tiny strokes of the brush, building up depth and form. Many of the details are so fine they may only be seen with a magnifying glass.

Ensuring the longevity of her work, only the finest quality materials are used, including artist's quality lightfast paints and (recently) 2000gsm Rising Museum Board for the ground.
This is an archival quality board, buffered against acid migration and deterioration, and contains no optical brighteners. All works are professionally framed to the highest conservation standards, using archival quality 100% cotton matting, and Museum glass, which cuts out 99% of damaging ultra-violet rays. It also provides an astonishing clarity for viewing the work, whilst retaining anti-reflective properties.

From January 2013, all original works come with a signed and dated Certificate of Authenticity.

Private commissions are welcome. Please contact me for further details.

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Diploma of Arts (Graphic Design) 1986.

WINNER of the SAM SLATER ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD (for an artist under 25 years) at the prestige Australasian Wildlife Art Society's 1992 Annual Exhibition.

RELEASED FIRST OPEN EDITION PRINT (2000) : "Waiting for the Rains" (Eastern Rosellas).

EXHIBITED at Morpeth Gallery's Annual Wildlife Art Exhibition : 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.

Voted 3rd most popular painting (People's Choice Award) Wildlife and Botanical Artists (ACT) 2nd Annual Art Show and Prize 2000.

FEATURED ARTIST in the January 2001 and August 2007 issues of "Australian Artist" magazine.

INVITED by Barren Grounds Bird Observatory to submit a painting which was silently auctioned in Sydney by Christie's in April 2001. This was part of a fund-raising venture. It sold above the reserve.

WINNER of the HIGHLY COMMENDED WILDLIFE ART AWARD ~ Wildlife and Botanical Artists (ACT) 3rd Annual Art Show and Prize 2001.

WINNER of the HIGHLY COMMENDED WILDLIFE ART AWARD ~ Wildlife and Botanical Artists (ACT) 4th Annual Art Show and Prize 2002.

Five of her paintings were selected by Art Publishing for reproduction onto greeting cards. In November 2002, 1000 of each were printed and distributed around Australia and New Zealand.

FINALIST in the International (inaugural) WATERHOUSE NATURAL HISTORY ART PRIZE 2003.

WINNER of the WILDLIFE ART AWARD ~ Wildlife and Botanical Artists (ACT) 6th Annual Art Show and Prize 2005.

WINNER of the HIGHLY COMMENDED AWARD ~ Wildlife Art @ Discovery Exhibition, CSIRO, 2007.

COMMISSIONED by the Friends of Australian National Botanic Gardens to illustrate every bird species commonly found there. A mammoth job taking two years to complete. Brochures printed and now available from the Visitors' Centre, Canberra, Australia. 2011.

FEATURED ARTIST in the November 2013 issue of "Artist's Palette" magazine. This was a six page editorial, and her artwork made the front cover!

FEATURED ARTIST in the December 2014 Yearbook issue of "Artist's Palette" magazine.

FEATURED ARTIST in the April 2015 (Issue 5) issue of "Creative Artist" magazine. This was a 10 page editorial, and her painting of a Black Duck made the front cover!

INVITED to exhibit at the RAW Artists' Expo. Canberra, 2018.

CURRENTLY working on her own paintings.

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"Frances McMahon from Canberra uses brushes with just a few hairs in each. As a result her work is painstakingly slow but the detail is remarkable."
~ Trevor Richards, Director, Morpeth Gallery

"Every so often in our lives we are lucky enough to meet someone who is so immensely talented that when they do their thing it takes your breath away...her artwork is so stunning and lifelike that at a quick glance you may first assume it is a photograph."
~ Karen Ballard, Editor, Australian Bowhunter Magazine, 1999

"Frances you are fantastic, (your work) reminds me of a friend of mine, Raymond Ching. Really well done...not many people out there with your ability. Congratulations."
~ Graeme Stevenson, Professional Artist and producer of "Colour in Your Life" TV series, 2013

"I have had a look at your website and am quite impressed with your birds."
~ William T Cooper, AO, World-renowned wildlife artist, 2014

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Frances enjoys many other interests and hobbies in life.

Between 2002 and 2015 she was a competitive adult figure skater, skating in competitions both locally and nationally.

After retirement from skating, Frances returned to Classical Guitar studies in 2014 (after a 27 year hiatus), and in 2015 passed her 6th grade AMEB practical exam with Honours.
In 2016 she passed her 7th grade AMEB practical exam with Honours,and is currently working on 8th grade.
She has also passed her 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade music theory exams all with High Distinctions, with a recent pass with Honours for her 4th grade theory exam.

Along with her adored partner Mark (a renowned classical guitarist in his own right), she can be found busking at local shopping centres.

She also enjoys Reading, Sewing, Cooking and spending time with her children, who are now all young adults.