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Albemarle Neighbor: Master Gardener’s passion moves to paint

By Anna Goodwin McCarthy

The Daily Advance

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Whether visiting the captivating spectacle of Niagara Falls or the vibrant colored landscapes of Key West, Bonnie Calliotte’s travels are captured on her canvases of brightly colored hues.

Calliotte’s first exhibit of her work will open at the Arts of the Albemarle on Feb.1 and will be on display during the month of February.

Painting with acrylics and watercolors, Calliotte said she utilizes photographs from her travels as inspiration for her art.

A catamaran on a dune in the Outer Banks, a farm covered in snow in New York and pelicans in a “vivid” Key West setting depict some of Calliotte’s snapshots of past ventures.

Calliotte began painting two years ago, finding it to be both “soothing” and “fun.”

“My mother was an artist,” said Calliotte. “I decided to take it up, and follow her passion.”

Calliotte said she learned various techniques including how to incorporate shadows into paintings when she attended an open studio event at the Arts of the Albemarle.

“I learned a lot from local artists,” said Calliotte. “I admire how artists see beauty and express it.”

Calliotte said she prefers to paint in the quiet atmosphere of her studio located in a cottage in Edenton by the Albemarle Sound where she has spent summers since she was a young girl.

While most of her work features landscapes, Calliotte said her favorite piece is a drawing of shoes that belonged to her son when he was a baby.

Calliotte hopes to create future paintings that focus on the exquisite scenery she witnessed on a trip to Spain.

Calliotte and her husband, James, moved to Elizabeth City six years ago and purchased a historical home on Main Street, the Charles-Harney House (circa 1853), where they opened a Victorian Tea Room. The couple’s business, De’Tours, also offers historical walking tours through Elizabeth City.

A former elementary school teacher for 16 years, Calliotte said she now enjoys sharing a history of Elizabeth City on the walking tours. Adorned in period attire and accessories from her grandmother’s collection, Calliotte gives etiquette lessons and teas for groups.   

Calliotte savors time spent antiquing and traveling with her husband. She is a Master Gardener, a member of the Music Club in Elizabeth City and a member of the Arts of the Albemarle.

Anna Goodwin McCarthy is a correspondent for The Daily Advance.