Shelly McCoy was born in Stephenville, a seaside town in Newfoundland, Canada, in 1962. Having grown up in a small town by the ocean, she has a general love and respect for nature and is an avid collector of Newfoundland beach rocks, which are depicted in some of her drawings and mixed media works.

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Following her passion for art, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1986, majoring in Painting. Later she received her master's degree in Art Education from Florida International University.