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  • Writer's pictureIrene Bailey

What is a Lifescape Portrait? (Part 2)

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

Continuing to share my journey with Lifescape Portraits, I offer this portrait of Michael Dorsey, the Former Dean of the East Carolina University School of Art. It was one of the pieces in my thesis show, which consisted of six portraits of my instructors. (To see all six teachers' portraits, go to:

When I went into Mr. Dorsey's office to interview him and decide how I was going to paint him, I saw a blowup doll imitating the Scream figure from Edvard Munch's painting. I thought it would be perfect as a part of the painting. Mr. Dorsey is a mild- mannered person, and no matter what the crisis at the university, he always kept calm. I imagined that on the inside he might actually be "screaming." I introduced an animated version of the Scream figure next to him as he gazed out the window. In this portrait, Mr. Dorsey's personality is the focus.

The Lifescape Portrait concept is the focus of my professional life as is evidenced in this portrait of Dr. Mark Stacy, Dean of the Brody Medical School at East Carolina University. When I interviewed Dr. Stacy, I asked him to tell me about himself. I found him very impressive, and I was anxious to figure out a way to relay as much of his story as possible in the painting. Dr. Stacy, a neurologist, has clinical trial experience in Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Dystonia, and Tremor. He is the editor of The Handbook of Dystonia, which he is holding. The brains on the shelves are gifts, as is the autographed photo of Muhammad Ali, his patient. Other items on the shelves are gifts from students around the world. The one he cherishes most is the painting of a bridge on the top right, a gift from one student thanking him for being the bridge to her accessing the education needed to be a success. Dr. Stacy is a very humble man who remembers where he came from, always appreciates the opportunities he had during his career, and tries to help others be successful. 

Lifescape Portraits are stories about people as well as their images. In grad school I was asked to paint an 8 foot by 12 foot painting about ECU for the Minges Colosseum with no guidelines except that it not be all about sports. I've always been curious about the subjects I paint, so when I noticed all the ECU buildings were named for individuals, I wanted to find out all I could about these people. My curiosity sparked much research about ECU. The knowledge I gained resulted in two 8 foot by 12 foot paintings, which I will talk about in my next blog.

Thank you, again, readers, for joining me on my artistic journey.

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