Clelia Cardano Sheppard has been a plein air artist for over 40 years. Explosive, contemplative, and triumphant, her work relentlessly explores the themes of time, identity, and connection. She is known for her spontaneity, speed and a traditional approach that does not allow the use of projections or digital assistance. Born in a farmhouse in Umbria, Italy, Clelia grew up surrounded by Tuscan hills, ancient ruins, and a culture that revered art. She obtained a degree in Visual Arts and Scenic Design from the Academia delle Belle Arti in Rome. She studied under the guidance of several renowned artists including Pericle Fazzini, whose work includes the sculpture of the Ascension in the Vatican. A one man show, hosted by collector Renato Morazzani sparked the accolades of Italian collectors and critics and launched her career. “So great is her intensity,” said art critic Giuseppe Selvaggi, “one feels able to touch, to taste the color.”
Clelia practices Plein Air in its true form, painting on site as the mood and colors change before her eyes. She has been commissioned to create murals, paintings, and installations for museums, public facilities, and churches and still enjoys the art of scenic design, creating over 30 theatrical productions in recent years. Her work has been featured in galleries, exhibits, and private collections in the U.S. and abroad.
Her awards include Best In Show at Sperlonga Estemporanea, Monte Rotondo, Pizzo-Calabro in Italy, La Valetta International in Malta, Eastern Shore Art League, 757 Plein Air Norfolk, Out and About Norfolk Jerry Artarama Award. For her entrepreneurialism and service she was honored with the Northampton County Distinction Award, Cape Charles Citizen of the Year, Hampton Roads Business Woman of the Year Award, and the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce Volunteer Citizen of the Year.
She and her husband John live on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. An business leader and community activist, Clelia founded a 501c3 non profit and served as its executive director for 18 years, bringing the arts to one of Virginia’s poorest counties. She is currently the owner and curator of Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio, an arts gallery and community space designed for creative peacemaking and cross-programming with several local, national and international partners.