An Interview with Carrie Waller


My Dear MilspoFANs,

When I was first conceptualizing MilspoFAN, I spent some time randomly Googling the arts and military spouses. I remember coming across Carrie’s work and being blown away by the vivid beauty in her watercolor paintings of everyday objects. I put her name in a file, intending to write a cold email asking her if she was interested in participating in MilspoFAN. However, as is so often the case in our little interconnected military and military spouse web, I discovered that she is friends with one of our previous interviewees, painter Maria Bennett Hock (October 26, 2016).  Maria introduced Carrie to me and MilspoFAN and here we are with another splendid artist interview for you to take in!

I love how this works, it feels just like magic sometimes! I hope all of you are able to use the growing, interlacing network of MilspoFAN to connect with each other as well. Now let’s get to know Carrie…

You can find Carrie at:

First, because Carrie’s accomplishments deserve some truly mad props, I’d like to share Carrie’s formal bio…  

Carrie is an internationally recognized watercolor artist and workshop instructor.  She has won numerous awards and has been published in many publications including The Watercolor Artist Magazine, Southwest Art Magazine, The Art of Watercolour, Pratique des Arts (French publication), and The Artist’s Magazine as a finalist in the magazine’s 2014 Annual Competition.  Her painting “Banned” received the Dana Bartlett top award in the National Watercolor Society’s member show June, 2014.  Her painting “Celebration” received the Gold Medal award for Mid-Southern Watercolorists 44th Annual Juried Exhibition, February, 2014.  She was also runner up for Artist of the Year in the Artist and Illustrator’s Magazine which is a British publication.  Her work has been exhibited all over the United States including the prestigious Salmagundi Club in New York City and also abroad to include the Mall Galleries in London, England, the Shenzhen International Watercolor Biennial, in Shenzhen, China, the Salon de l’Aquarelle in Brussels, Belgium and has exhibited in Tokyo, Japan.  Her work has also been published in Splash 14, Light and Color; The Best of Watercolor and Splash 16: Exploring Texture, Splash 17, Inspiring Subjects  and has been selected for publication in Splash 18.

MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself, your journey as a military spouse, and where you are today.

Carrie: I have been living in Japan for the last 2.5 years and have gained so much inspiration from living all over the world.  I have 2 sons (10 and 7) and am married to an active duty, air force husband.  Brian and I have been married for 15 years, we met in college and have lived in Bann, Germany, Charleston, SC, Dayton, OH, Montgomery, AL, Little Rock, AR and now here in Japan.  Marrying into the military wasn’t much of a change for me I spent my life moving and lived in Indianapolis, IN, Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, Alexandria, VA, Baltimore, MD, Carterville, IL, Los Angeles, CA, and Chicago, IL before getting married.

 MilspoFAN: Tell us how you got into the fine arts and watercolor in particular. When did you know you wanted to be an artist as a career?

 Carrie: I have always been creative and loved to draw and paint.  In college I studied Graphic Design and Interior Design.  I received a degree in Interior Design and had a job lined up working for an Architectural firm in Chicago but my life took a turn when I got engaged and married to my husband my senior year of college.  Brian was in ROTC and found out he was moving to Germany for his first assignment so we got married during finals week our senior year so I could be on his orders.  Moving to Germany put a kink in my plans to be an Interior Designer.  There was actually an Interior Design position open at Rammstein Air Base but it was for a GS 12.  They tried for a year to work out a position for me but they it never came to fruition so I started working for the Boys and Girls Club as a contract position running the Art program for Teen Center at Landstuhl.  I also went to the library and picked up every book on watercolor and taught myself enough techniques to begin teaching classes to children and adults.  This experience taught me that I would have to create my own path while my husband was in the military.  I also learned that we would only be in an area for a short amount of time so I needed to hit the ground running.  I have pretty much stuck with this philosophy with the exception of a couple of years when I had my kids and focused on taking care of my babies.  After I had my second son my husband deployed and I knew I needed to get back into creating again and that is when I started painting in watercolor full time.  I started a blog with the concept of painting a painting a week and have been painting since.

“5 o’clock Shadow”- 20″ x 24″ watercolor

 MilspoFAN: What role or purpose does painting play in your life today? 

 Carrie: Painting keeps me sane.  I really get in the zone when I paint and it is a kind of meditation for me.  I can tell when I am not painting because I am more stressed.

 MilspoFAN: Besides painting, do you have other interests?

 Carrie: I am very involved in my kid’s school.  I volunteer in their art class.  I am also currently the VP of Programs for the PWOC chapter on our base.  That has been fun and let me be creative in other ways.  We just had our Holiday Tea and it was very fun to work on every detail.  My husband is an AMXS Squadron Commander so I am heavily involved with the key spouse program as a mentor.

MilspoFAN: How do you choose your subjects?

 Carrie: I find inspiration everywhere.  Where I live is a big inspiration.  We have had the good fortune to live in some good locations, Europe and Asia come to mind and all of those experiences have shaped me as an artist.  I am really inspired by light and how it bounces off things and of course it does some dramatic things to glass so that is why glass has become a huge source of inspiration for many of my paintings.  But, I recently painted a vending machine and I would have never used a vending machine as a subject in the States but in Japan they are everywhere and such a part of society I had to paint one.

“Hot and Cold, Japanese Vending Machine”- 17″ x 20″ watercolor


I also have drawn inspiration from childhood which is where my Ball jar paintings came from.  My light bulb series came to light after reading in the paper that there was going to be a ban on incandescent bulbs.  So really anything can inspire a painting for me.

“Focus”- 14″ x 20″ watercolor



MilspoFAN: Describe your artistic process from idea to finished painting.

Carrie: Once I become inspired by something I cannot wait to set up still life props and photograph them.   I only use intense sunlight to light my objects so I have to work around the weather.  On a nice sunny day I set up my newest inspirations.  During photo shoot days I may be doing multiple photo shoots on the same day.  I often take 100 shots or more of a setup from all different angles and viewpoints.  I then download them onto my computer and I love seeing what I end up with.  Sometimes it is better than expected and other times it’s not so great so I’m back to the proverbial drawing board.  Once I find a few photos I like I edit them in Photoshop, cropping them and changing the coloring to a desirable composition.  Then it is time to get to work.  I draw my subject onto my watercolor paper (Arches 260lb cold pressed paper).  I tape my watercolor paper down to my board and start to paint using my Daniel Smith watercolors and size 4 kolinsky sable brush.  I paint from right to left in a puzzle like fashion.

MilspoFAN: Tell us about the Artists Helping Artists podcast that you co-host.

Carrie: I found Artist Helping Artist when I first started painting.  Leslie had just started the podcast and I started listening religiously and became a Facebook friend of hers and the shows.  We started talking because of comments I had made on her pages and blog.  By the time she was looking for co-hosts I had met her in person and she asked me if I would co-host.  The great thing about podcasts are that I can still co-host even from Japan.  We have made it work, isn’t technology great!  AHA is the most important thing that I did starting as an artist.  I listened to Leslie’s advice and did what she said to do and it was like having my own personal art coach.  AHA is the best thing going out there for artists and it’s free!!!

MilspoFAN: You have won many impressive awards for your work; tell us about some  that have special significance to you.

Carrie: It has been amazing to do so well in competitions.  I really have used them as a way to get my name out there in many different areas of the country and world.  The competitions that really stick out in my mind are my first blue ribbon.  The very first watercolor competition I entered was with the Louisiana Watercolor Society and I placed first.  I was shocked and thrilled and it gave me validation that I was on the right track and should keep pursuing watercolor.  Another monumental win was winning the Daniel Smith art competition.  The year I won there was a very large prize and I ended up winning $10,000 in art supplies and a trip to Seattle where they are located.  I am pretty much set for life on paint and I still have a ton of watercolor paper 3 years later.

“Sagaku”- 8″x 15″ watercolor


How has your role as a military spouse impacted your work as an artist- creatively, logistically, or otherwise?

 Carrie: I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to be an artist if it weren’t for being a military spouse.  I would most likely have a more traditional form of employment.  It can be a good thing and a bad thing.  I love that we move around a lot and I’m constantly meeting new art friends and getting to check out the art scene in a lot of different locations, it also gives me the opportunity to build my client base in a lot of locations.  It has been harder to teach workshops while living in Japan but the opportunity to live in a place like Japan is just fueling my soul for future paintings.

MilspoFAN: Where do you want to take your painting next?

 Carrie: I really want to create a body of work based on my time in Japan and have a cohesive show.

Very best wishes as you work toward that cohesive show, Carrie! It’s so inspiring to hear about how Carrie found her talent and worked hard to make the military lifestyle an asset to her artistic career, rather than a hindrance.  Thanks to Carrie and to all of the MilspoFAN members and readers for joining me in learning more about Carrie’s work and process. Enjoy the tail end of 2016 everyone! See you all in the new year.




  1. W. Mills

    Wonderful article about a wonderful person! Not only is Carrie an incredibly gifted artist, but one of the kindest people you will ever meet! Can’t wait to see her future work.

  2. Charla Mathews

    Carrie, what is AHA, which you said was free, and how can I get involved. I need much additional training in watercolors, and have not found the right avenue for me. If I knew what AHA was, maybe my art would progress and I would be more confident with my work. Now, I’m mostly self taught with no formal training. Thank you for any suggestions you might have . I am heading to the library this weekend.

    1. carriewallerart

      Hi Charla, AHA is Artist Helping Artists and it is a podcast. You can download all the archived shows via iTunes or you can find it online, here is a link to the fb page The show has been going for 6 years so if you are looking for info on fb marketing or pinterest, etc, make sure you listen to a more recent show. AHA is mostly about art marketing but it also has a lot of artist’s interviews that are fantastic as well. As far as learning techniques for watercolors I suggest you take a workshop from an artist you admire. I will be teaching one this summer in South Carolina. There are also a lot of great online tutorials and DVDs. Artists Network also has on-line classes. I have not taken one of these classes but I admire a lot of the artists that teach them. I’m glad you went to the library. I started with the Reader’s Digest Watercolor book and went from there.

  3. Pingback: 18 MilspoFAN gems from 2016 – Military Spouse Fine Artists Network

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