Any artist needs to be very mindful of intellectual property and copyright laws. As I read these books it is completely appropriate for me to paint images that the writing prompts from my imagination. This is the stuff that book illustration is rooted in and it is the artist’s imagination that grows the characters or the settings and produces images based on what they read.
To add complexity to the mix, the research involved in writing historical fiction is often based to some degree on real places or people to lend credibility. The author, Diana Gabaldron, is well known for her accurate and extensive research practices and is working closely in the film production to ensure both accuracy to historical content and that they hold true to the books.
In this example, the painting I did is of the home of the Fraser clan, a castle called Lallybroch, also known as Broch Tuarach. The castle used in the TV series, called Midhope House, is actually somewhat in ruin and is situated just outside of Inverness.
Now here is where it the difficulty arises. Because the images in the TV series have attached themselves to the books for those who have seen the film versions, I must try and mirror those images to connect with my audience. There are photographs that have been taken of the real Midhope House by studio and tourist alike, but to comply with copyright law I cannot paint directly from one of those publicly posted photographs without infringing on that intellectual property of the photographer. I can either go to Scotland and take my own picture or I can look at many photographs of the site, research the location, and then create my own interpretation of it.