Eilidh Muldoon is an illustrator and designer who has always had Edinburgh at the heart of her work. After studying at Edinburgh College of Art, she returned to ECA as Illustrator in Residence and over the years many of her original illustrations and prints have featured this beautiful city. Her latest project, a colouring book aptly named An Art Adventure, has been created in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland and features Edinburgh’s iconic art galleries. We chatted to Eilidh all about her series of colouring books, which has recently expanded to include The Colouring Book of Scotland, her inspiration and her love of Edinburgh.
On the Colouring Books
The initial concept behind An Art Adventure (published by the National Galleries of Scotland) began with a project I started while studying at Edinburgh College of Art. I was interested in book formats and how introducing interactive elements can change our relationship with a book; the Gallery was keen to make a colouring book that would help visitors to travel around all the Galleries.
I liked the idea of readers becoming active participants in building a book that could communicate something about their journey and experience.
The whole experience of working with the National Galleries of Scotland was very rewarding. There are so many people behind the scenes at the galleries, working hard to make and run a fantastic programme of events and exhibitions. I was lucky to work with many of them, including staff from Education, Retail and Publishing who all helped me to develop the book. It was a welcoming and productive collaborative environment.
The four art gallery buildings in Edinburgh are such iconic places, with plenty of beautiful details that lend themselves well to intricate line work and are perfect for colouring in, so it was easy to choose which locations to illustrate. For The Colouring Book of Scotland (published by Birlinn and now on sale in shops and online) the decision was a little trickier. I had to choose around 20 places from across Scotland, and narrowing the list down was difficult. There are so many amazing houses, castles and landscapes that are steeped in history and potentially hold personal meaning for many members of the public. I also wanted to choose an even distribution around the country, so that no area was left out. Hopefully I’ve managed this and most people are familiar with the places depicted.
On Illustration & Inspiration
I draw everything by hand, using a range of very fine black pens. I’ve recently started using ‘Rotring’ cartridge pens and I love them (even despite the odd ink spillage!). I then scan in my work and tidy it up digitally. When working in colour I compile a combination of printed, painted and drawn textures and images, so creating the monochrome images for colouring in is a different way of working, but I enjoy both.
My personal favourite location for drawing in Edinburgh is the National Museum on Chambers Street.
Everyone will work differently and find inspiration from different things, but I think it can be very useful to go on drawing trips with other people. You will learn from each other, and it is important to set time aside to study things that interest you. But even if you prefer to draw alone, keeping a sketchbook would be my number one tip. I fell out of the habit for a while after graduating from college and I noticed the impact this had on my work. Carrying a sketchbook with me means I can make notes and drawings whenever I have an idea or see something interesting. These ideas can often grow into something or feed into my work and would probably be forgotten without getting them down on paper.
I love the Botanic Gardens, you could spend hours exploring there.
The Galleries are a must-do for my perfect day in Edinburgh. I would have to pop into the Gallery of Modern Art Two for a look at Eduardo Paolozzi’s studio. You can walk from the city centre out to the two modern galleries along the Water of Leith and through Dean Village, it is a really picturesque route. A wee climb up Calton Hill (or a bigger climb up Arthur’s Seat) is great for a panoramic view of the whole city and beyond. Then you are well placed for a wander down Leith Walk, where there are lots of great pubs and cafés. There are also some fantastic venues down that way hosting lots of music and art events. The Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street is a brilliant place for events, markets, classes and workshops.
You can find An Art Adventure on sale in all of the National Gallery shops, and The Colouring Book of Scotland is stocked in Waterstones as well as smaller independent retailers. Prints of my work are for sale at Curiouser & Curiouser and Red Door Gallery, which I would also say are two of the very best wee shops and galleries the city has to offer.
Thank you to the brilliant Ellie Morag for all the photographs used in this article.