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Artist Paints With Broad Brush

Jo-Ann Thompson-Claybourne is a jack-of-all trades artist. Whether it's prints, T-shirts, tote bags, greeting cards, dishtowels, potholders or portraits, Jo-Ann does it all. A sample of her work is on display at the main branch of the Norwalk Public Library through the end of September.

She also teaches children's programs in Norwalk, Weston and Stamford for kids ages 6 to 12. "When students see me at a show, they're like, 'This is your work?' That makes them think that they can do it, too."

Thompson-Claybourne herself remembers drawing as young as age 5. "I didn't want to go outside to play,'' Jo-Ann says. "I told my parents I wanted to be an artist. My dad told me to go out and get a real job. He still says that."

She has no uniform theme in her approach to her work.

"I sit down with a blank piece of wood, canvas, whatever, and it's my own creation," Jo-Ann says. "It's whatever comes in to my imagination. Art is so spiritual to me."

She credits an art teacher at Norwalk High School for leading her down an artistic path. "Mrs. Coleman,'' she said. "She said look for the creative part inside me." She attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and began her own business 10 years ago when a fan demanded to buy a piece of her artwork. "They wouldn't let me leave without selling it to them," Jo-Ann says.

One of her signature pieces is a mixed media work on pressed wood that stands 5 feet high by 12 inches wide. "That's something that I came up with two years ago and they took off,'' Jo-Ann says. "I'm always trying to come up with a unique style. I don't want to copy anyone."

Jo-Ann visits shows with her work every weekend. It is also available on her website . "I want Jo-Ann Thompson-Claybourne to be a household name,'' she says.

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