Born in South Bend, Indiana, Ms. Wallen received a degree in painting from Indiana University in Bloomington and did graduate work in drawing at the University of Iowa. After a 5-year stint as a street artist on Jackson Square in New Orleans, Ms. Wallen moved to New York and finally to Pittsburgh in 1981. She has been painting portraits for a living since 1972 and continues to do so in her studio on Spring Hill where she and her husband, actor Mark Thompson, are gently restoring two Victorian homes.

Ms. Wallen teaches currently at the Carnegie Museum of Art. She has taught at Carnegie Mellon University, various national and international workshops, and for 20 years at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. In 1989 she organized and founded the International Center for the Arts in Le Pouldu, France, and continues to take groups of painters and other folk to France and other countries.

Ms. Wallen's commissioned portrait work includes such clients as the Scaifes, the Hillmans, the Rooney family, J & L Steel, Mellon Bank, Shadyside Hospital, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre among others. Her work can be seen at the Gallery on 43rd Street in Pittsburgh, PA, the 3rd Street Gallery in Carnegie, PA, and Galerie S├ępia in Pont Aven, France