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Local artist drawn to realistic style
"Basking in the Morning Sun," a pastel by Debra Yaun, currently is on display at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. - photo by Tom Reed

Artist profile: Debra Yaun

Hometown: Buford

See her work at: The Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville and in several published books

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When Debra Yaun paints, she depicts the world as she sees it.

It just so happens that Yaun sees the world just like the rest of us - and her realistic paintings, which seem like photographs at first glance, are proof.

Yaun, a Buford resident, is a full-time artist who spends her time teaching classes, painting commissioned portraits and writing instructional books.

"I've always drawn since I was a child. My mother was an artist, but she died when I was 11 so I didn't get much training from her. But it kind of runs in our family," Yaun said.

Yaun attended Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., and went on to jobs as a fashion illustrator and layout designer for JCPenney and as a graphic designer for other companies before deciding to stay home with the birth of her first child in 1981.

She began painting seriously in 1990, starting with paintings of her children and friends. In 2007, Yaun was invited to be an artist-in-residence at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, where she won first place in the livestock category and took home four other awards.

Walter Foster Publishing Inc. officials contacted Yaun after seeing her Web site and offered to include her work in their instructional books.

Yaun, who said she switches back and forth between watercolor and colored pencil, has been included in seven books and three instructional kits, two of which feature only her work.

"One of the books is the basics of learning how to draw a portrait, and it really gets into how lay out the face and understanding the planes of the face, and understanding how the whole facial structure works, which helps in doing portraits and eventually helps with the realism - helps with making it actually look like the person," Yaun said.

"I did a book on drawing people, and the ‘Faces and Features' book has several people from the Gainesville area," she said.

Yaun, who is president of the Atlanta chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America, also teaches at Johns Creek Arts Center in Duluth and at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville.

She is scheduled to teach a colored pencil workshop at the center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 21.

Yaun's books can be found at Michael's and Hobby Lobby stores in Gwinnett county, and online at