In this fast paced age where we send and receive messages and images at the speed of light, Sy Ellens feels the urge to get in touch with his roots. He keeps going back to the natural beauty that was part of his experience while growing up on the family farm. Traditional barns and other old buildings are disappearing from the landscape. Painting is one way to preserve them for future generations. He has memories of them in many different times of the year. He depicts them in those many different ways with the skill of one whom has lived the experience.
After graduating from Kendall School of Design and Western Michigan University, Sy worked as a commercial artist and as a high school teacher of art. He also taught art for three years on the college level in Nigeria and has spent three summers teaching in China. These experiences along with extensive travels in other countries have stimulated his interest in color, especially the use of color in unusual ways.
Ellens has had numerous paintings accepted in regional, national and international juried shows and has received numerous awards for his work. Among his awards is the High Winds Medal from the American Watercolor Society in New York. In 1996 he received the 5th place award in the Artist's Magazine International competition which drew 10,000 entries. An article regarding his gouache paintings was published in the November, 1995 issue of the Artist's Magazine. Ellens also was one of the 16 semi-finalists representing the United States in the Windsor and Newton All World Competition in 1999,
In 1998 Ellens received a grant from the Pharmacia & Upjohn Foundation and the Arts Council of Kalamazoo to do paintings about "buildings and people forgotten." He has since received a commission to do a large painting for the newly opened Epic Center for the Arts in Kalamazoo. One of his paintings was recently exhibited in the Northwest Watercolor Society's 6th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition of prize-winning paintings from the last 60 years.
His work is in many private and corporate collections in the US and Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea and many European countries. Sy has earned signature membership in seven professional art organizations across the country. His work is entered in the 10th anniversary edition of the Encyclopedia of Living Artists and the International Encyclopedia Dictionary of Contemporary Art 1999/2000.