She stands in the corner, yet she stands out.
In an era when everybody captures everything with a smartphone, she has a sketchpad. That’s how this millennial rolls.
What’s up with that?
Elizabeth Person, 32, is the Everett Sketcher. She takes her art beyond pretty pictures to document scenes and slices of life. A utility worker sawing windstorm-toppled trees. Revelers at a new downtown bar. Gardeners at a P-Patch. The bustling post office before Christmas. The animal shelter.
I caught up with her on a recent weekday at Everett Station. She leaned against a column, one eye squinting at the distant arched window while her fingers quickly penned lines on paper pad. Yes, pen. She uses a pen.
“This is very architectural, so the perspective needs to be correct,” she said.
“Our eyes fool ourselves all the time. Our mind tries to control it when we draw. Often a line that looks like it is straight is actually angled. I have to figure out where the horizon line is then all my lines are based on that. This angle is actually wrong.”
So why use a pen?
“That’s part of it. There’s no such thing as a mistake. Just go with it,” she said. “You can have a wonky line, but just keep going, finish off the drawing.”
Her pen raced to a new spot.
“There’s a gal buying her ticket and she looked really cute so I need to get her in there real quick.”
Within 30 minutes, the blank paper brimmed with detail, even with me pestering her with a bunch of questions.
“I spent a summer in college working as a portrait artist at an amusement park in Ohio,” Person said. “It gave me a ton of experience drawing in front of people and having kids crowd around me and people smoking next to me and I’d be like, ‘Can I just have a little bit of room?’”
I wasn’t the only distracting force while Person sketched at the station.
A man walking by stopped abruptly and couldn’t contain his curiosity.
“Can I see?” he said. “That’s pretty damn good.”
The man, Mike Raub, then got a bit sentimental: “I had this dream about being a cartoonist at Disney,” he said, “but I just kind of lost it along the way.”
Raub was at the station’s WorkSource center seeking a maintenance job. He encouraged Person to keep drawing before heading on his way.
Sketching the busy station was a suggestion from someone Person met who works for Everett Transit.
After the first pass with her pen, she casually pulled a jar of water and metal palette of paints from a small backpack.
“The drawing takes a lot longer. The painting is quick,” she said.”I don’t enjoy working with watercolor, but I think it’s beautiful.”
Person supports herself doing illustrations, graphic design and commercial artwork through her business, Elizabeth Person Art & Design. That’s her “careful work.”
The pen and watercolor sketches are her “in the moment” work.
“It wasn’t until about four years ago that I really felt like I found my style, which is working with a pen and doing a tight drawing. Then I use watercolor, which is very unpredictable and very loose, to counterbalance that,” she said.
“It provides a nice contrast. When I draw my really careful work, it’s in the studio and I’m very focused. This is more spontaneous. I get to splash paint and it’s messy.”
Maybe so, but she didn’t spill any water or paint on the station floor. She didn’t even smudge her clothes.
Her “Sketchy Everett” series depicting a mixed bag of scenes debuted last October on Live in Everett, a hyper-local blog.
“People love pretty pictures and want everything in full bloom, but that’s not life. That doesn’t portray life year-round,” she said. “For example, the windstorm where I drew a construction worker working on a tree. I never sold a print of that and I don’t want to, but it was important to do.”
She likes to capture everyday experiences.
“I try to get places where people go all the time but might not appreciate until they see a drawing of it or see it stopped during one moment in time,” she said. “They can see it in a new light.”
She also covers new ground. “People go on their normal track and there’s a lot of places they don’t get to.”
Another series of sketches is from her six-week artist-in-residency at remote Holden Village near Lake Chelan in 2015.
She sells prints of places, objects and more at festivals and at her etsy shop, elizabethperson.etsy.com. Everett sketches are $12.
Person grew up in the Lake Stevens/Marysville area and graduated from Grace Academy. She studied illustration at a college in Indiana.
“My senior project was a series of portraits on successful failures. People who are known for their success but who had some remarkable failures. Dr. Seuss, who was rejected so many times. The guy who started Fed Ex. Emily Dickinson.”
Person moved to Everett six years ago. “I love what’s happening here with the art scene,” she said.
She’s involved with the city’s Cultural Arts Commission and many events.
Look for her around town. Don’t be shy. You can talk to her while she works.