Barbara Chalmers MacEdwards, 74, a retired artist and accountant and a Washington area resident for more than 30 years, died Monday at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring of complications from rhumatoid arthritis.

A native of Framington, Mass., Mrs. MacEdwards attended Boston University, where she studied accounting. She also studied portraiture with New England painters Wayman Adams and George Elmer Brown.

After moving to this area in the mid-1940s, she was self-employed as an accountant until her retirement 15 years ago.

An award-winning painter, Mrs. MacEdwards showed her portraits, still lifes and lithographs, many of the Washington area and its inhabitants, at private exhibits in this area. She is cited in "Who's Who of American Artists."

Mrs. MacEdwards served on the city council in Berryville, Va., when she lived there for several years in the 1950s. She returned to this area in 1959. A resident of Adelphi, she had lived at the Manor Care Nursing Home there for the past several months.

Her marriages to John J. FitzPatrick and Hobart MacEdwards ended in divorce.

Survivors include two daughters by her marriage to Mr. FitzPatrick, Nancy Pinson of College Park and Joan Bram of Virginia Beach, Va.; a brother, Douglas Chalmers of Newport Beach, Calif., and seven grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Arthritis and Rheumatism Association here.