"When I go to museums that's where I go," she says. "It's what I want to see. I keep feeding that inspiration with more things I want to look at. I'm not a scholar, I just let it wash over me. The spareness – how modern some of these things look even though they're 400 years old."
Its that quality that makes Ellen's paintings so easy to live with. They're simple, peaceful, and perfect.
She says this clean, timeless style is right for her attention span and her desire to complete the thought. "I love other styles, but there's no way I could attempt to work in that vein. That's the way my hand works and my eye works."
Ellen tries to get in the studio every day. Sometimes she paints, but other times she sketches or looks at "bird porn" (birding magazines). Many of her paintings are variations on a sketch.
She's also inspired by color combinations she comes across in the course of a day and wants to try out.
"In my own home I want it to be a sanctuary. The colors in the paintings make you feel good. Not just because you need something red over the couch."
She is inspired by the world around her, especially the spring migration. She's currently working on a series of sandpipers, from photos she took in Maine. She also saw some gorgeous orioles at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and did a whole series of paintings from those.
But most of her inspiration comes from the awe of looking at something and thinking “that's the most beautiful thing.”
That's what people say when they see her paintings, too. There's often a connection far beyond what goes with a room's decor.
"I love it when someone falls in love with [a painting] and wants it. It seems like a magical thing, that they saw something that moved them so much. It came out of my mind and connected in something in their mind. It amazes me."
“I'm not about talking about my inner angst or my fears, I have no interest in painting about it," she says.
"I am interested in making the most beautiful thing possible and making it simple.”