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Yessie at 15: Quinceañera Portrait


My next door neighbors are like family so I was delighted when they asked me to participate in Yessie’s Quinceanera, a very special and elaborate traditional celebration for Mexican girls on their 15th birthday, that marks the transition from childhood to womanhood. They asked me to paint a portrait of her to be on display…

Yessie's Quinceanera Portrait, Watercolor, 15x20 in
Yessie All Grown Up; Quinceanera Portrait, Watercolor, 15×20 in

My next door neighbors are like family so I was delighted when they asked me to participate in Yessie’s Quinceanera, a very special and elaborate traditional celebration for Mexican girls on their 15th birthday, that marks the transition from childhood to womanhood. They asked me to paint a portrait of her to be on display at the party for 200 people where the girls dress in evening gowns and the birthday girl and her “court” go from Mass to the event hall in a limo.

To prepare for the big event Yessie went to a salon for a trial makeover and then came over for me to take photos of her all made up, with false eyelashes and all. The photos weren’t easy to paint from because of the challenging light conditions that afternoon (and because I’m not a photographer!), but were better than the little cellphone snaps they originally gave me.

Here is a painting I made of Yessie back when she was just a tot, at her baby brother’s christening.

Yessie at her brother's baptism when she was just little, watercolor
Yessie at her brother’s christening when she was just little, watercolor

I painted her brothers back then too; you can see big brother here and my favorite portrait I’ve ever done: her little brother here.

My first attempt at the painting went well until it was almost done and then I had a problem that I couldn’t fix so I started over. Here are a couple of steps from the first attempt.

If I wasn’t running out of time I’d make another attempt. I was rusty at watercolor portrait painting when I started the project. Now I feel like I’ve got the hang of it again and could do it better. But they’re happy with version two and it’s framed and ready to go. I still might give it another try even if I can’t get it done in time for the big party, just because.

9 replies on “Yessie at 15: Quinceañera Portrait”

I think you have done a great portrait. I’m sure Yessie will be very happy. And Jana, so should you too! It is interesting being able to see your different attempts – thank you. Happy 15th Birthday Yessie!

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