Walter Ebatarinja asserted his personal independence and tribal identity through his painting career from the early 1950s. By choice, Walter was initially taught by Albert Namatjira, rather than by Rex Battarbee. Walter created paintings, which maximised their impact by abstracting rock patterns and minimising detail. He produced romantic fantasies by exaggerating qualities such as tonal contrasts, surface smoothness and colour luminosity. He sometimes included tribal tjurunga markings with nature-based patterns in rocky outcrops and cliff tops. Walter Ebatarinja was a founder and master of the Hermannsburg School.
The Mission encouraged painting as a men’s activity. However, with her husband’s support, Walter’s wife Cordula became the first Arrernte woman to paint seriously from 1951. Cordula continued her painting career after Walter died.
Walter obliged Albert to teach him to paint in 1945, having asked Rex to give him tuition at about the same time.  According to Rex Battarbee, Walter Ebatarinja’s father was the headman of the Hermannsburg group of the Arrernte tribe. Walter was Western Arrernte. The Ebatarinjas were a prominent mission family. Walter along with his male siblings played at least in modest part the role of traditionalists.  Walter’s mother Ruth was half Aboriginal. In traditional terms Walter’s father was senior to Albert’s father who had no authority from a tribal point of view at Hermannsburg. Thus, when Albert became a successful artist he was obliged to help Walter to learn. 
Albert’s guidance to Walter was based on the stage Albert had evolved to in his painting in 1945 in which his emphasis then was on how the scene appeared. Albert’s early paintings in the 1930s started with a horizontal bands approach and very pale colour fields.
Walter steadily developed an individual style as he progressed in his career. Walter was a decisive and individual painter who developed his own direction, while building on aspects of other artists’ work, especially Albert Namatjira and Edwin Pareroultja. Walter absorbed Albert’s adherence to nature and Edwin’s primary colour fields into his own system in which traditional markings were important. Walter used aspects of traditional markings including the wavy lines sometimes found on the sacred tjurrunga, along with dots and parallels to simplify and achieve considerable drama. Walter also employed the grainy texture of the paper sensitively in his painterly style.
Walter seems to have been personally assertive. Walter and his wife Cordula were prepared to upset the (Mission and Northern Territory Administration) Aranda Arts Council system of attempted regulation of marketing and payments to Aboriginal artists in following their careers with some independence. Rex Battarbee and his wife Bernice had key roles in this important and challenging activity after their marriage in September 1950, when they established the Tmara Mara gallery in their home in Alice Springs.
Rex Battarbee stated in his 1971 book Modern Aboriginal Paintings that ‘Walter painted for a number of years with good technique and much ability, though perhaps without as much sincerity as Albert.’ Battarbee seemed reticent about Walter and included only one very early painting of 1945 in this book when he could have included a later example.
Members of the talented Ebatarinja family developed their own individual styles. Walter and Cordula (nee Malbunka) were the first generation Ebatarinja painters, followed by Walter’s nephew Arnulf Ebatarinja. The career of Walter and Cordula’s talented son Joshua ended tragically with his death aged thirty-three. Desmond Ebatarinja, a younger brother of Joshua is still active as a painter.
Eric Ebatarinja, (born 1918) who produced a striking painting in the late 1940s did not pursue a career. The author thinks Eric was probably a younger brother of Walter. Eric’s brother was Benjamin Landara (born Ebatarinja), who married Albert and Rubina’s daughter Maisie Namatjira. Benjamin was the 17th founder to start painting seriously and had a career as a painter. Benjamin, guided by Albert, received special attention as his son-in-law. He did not use the Ebatarinja surname. He is discussed separately under his name Benjamin Landara. Walter’s nephew Arnulf Ebatarinja developed an outstanding all over style of patterning.