Imagine a desk with a mosaic of donated tiles covering it, barn doors with bright colors, and a set of tables where artists make projects, passing ideas back and forth, and encouraging others. This is the inviting atmosphere of Local Color Studio. Shanna Coulter, the imagination behind and owner of the studio, is just like the other artists: encouraging, welcoming, and compassionate. Family friend Jaime Roberts describes Shanna as “someone living out who they are authentically and unapologetically.” With her fun and friendly personality, Shanna has built a space any artist can feel comfortable in.

Shanna best describes her younger self as “the kid who drew on the walls, on myself, and everything.” She has been making art since the very start and was blessed with a supportive family. Like many artists, art is a method for Shanna to share her thoughts and feelings. She mostly draws and paints, but she dabbles with any material she can, including photography, ceramics, and even mixed media. Jaime says of Shanna that art virtually “oozes from her pores.”

When Shanna was in her twenties, art became her source of income. She painted portraits, sketched houses, and painted murals to help support her family. She received a bachelor of arts from Kennesaw State University [KSU]. However, with a large family she struggled to continue her personal art, as she felt she had little time or space to create.

Shanna returned to KSU and received a degree in art education, crafting her return to the arts as well. She became a beloved art teacher at Cherokee High School but found that the public-school setting did not fulfill her goals as an artist. The end of May 2022 marked the start of a new chapter.

Finding a spot for a studio was easier said than done. Shanna had the help of Dana Cox of Penn Hodge Properties, who developed the renovated Mill on Etowah. While finding space in Canton was nearly impossible, Shanna knew that it had to be in Canton.

The stars aligned when the basement of the former Audio Intersection became available. Shanna signed the lease on February 2, 2023, and got straight to work. The creation of Local Color Studio was crucial, as she reasons, “Art is important, and culture is important. The creative people of Canton need a place to do their important work.”

The coworking space has become an area for artists to come together, share ideas, and build each other up. “Creativity creates more creativity. Creativity is not exhaustive,” Shanna explains. For her, the best thing for an aspiring artist to do is “make art every day” and find support in a mentor or creative group.

Local Color Studio celebrated its grand opening on February 2, 2024, a year to the date of signing the lease. The space is just starting out, and community response directs the studio more than Shanna does. To her, the town says, “We’re open to the arts, and the artists just have to fill those spaces.” She hopes to make Canton a pin on the map of Southeastern art with her studio and with events like Barnaroo, an annual fall music festival at her family farm lovingly dubbed Coulterville.

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Enjoy Cherokee / Women in Art (Photo Credit: Emily Danielle Cumana/Em Danielle Photography)