Frances’s Inspiration: “The National Botanic Gardens in Canberra is a treasure trove of native bird species. New Holland Honeyeaters have long been on my wish list to paint. Although not brightly coloured, these honeyeaters are nevertheless striking birds with an equally striking personality! They typically feed in groups and I was lucky enough to come across a noisy flock enjoying the nectar from this stunning grevillea in the late afternoon. I often wonder how these birds avoid being stabbed in the face by the spiky grevillea leaves when feeding. Lighting on a subject is most flattering when sourced from the side rather than above and I could hardly wait to paint not only the bird and flowers, but the lighting on the subjects.
Honeyeaters (Family Meliphagidae) comprise the largest family of Australian passerines, totaling 76 species. New Holland Honeyeaters are found throughout southern Australia. They were among the first birds to be scientifically described in Australia. They are incredibly active, rarely sitting still. Sexes are similar with the females being slightly smaller. There are currently 5 recognised subspecies.
They play in an important role in pollination of many native flower species. Grevillea “Bonfire” depicted here in this painting is a hybrid between G. johnsonii and G. wilsonii ”.
Original artwork by Frances McMahon.
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