After attending Rongotai College, Wellington, where there were no art courses offered, Walters became a trainee commercial artist in 1935 and continued studying at Wellington Technical College, taking a keen interest in ethnic art. It was here in 1941 that he became closely acquainted with Indonesian-born Dutch émigré artist Theo Schoon, who raised his awareness of international art and would later introduce him to Mäori rock art in South Canterbury. Walters was particularly attracted to the European surrealists, including Paul Klee and Joan Mirò, and their inspiration in the subconscious and “primitive” forms. Walters made several trips to Australia before he left New Zealand in 1950 for London, also visiting Paris and Amsterdam, and encountering first-hand the abstract works of Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Victor Vasarely, the latter a particular influence on his early non-figurative works, executed once back in Melbourne in 1952. In 1953 he found himself in Auckland for a period before returning to Wellington to work for the Government Printing Office. While working, through the mid-1950s, Walters would produce hundreds of small works on paper, not having any audience to develop larger pieces for.