Fun, imaginative, bright, colorful and happy — this is how Peralta-based artist Kristin Walls describes her work, which adorns many homes and businesses in the area and brings joy to countless community members.  

“People love art,” said Walls, who owns KAES Painting 101 in Peralta. “I wasn’t sure how far art would even take me professionally, but it’s been a personal experience that I absolutely love.” 

Walls, well-known in the community for her whimsical murals and paint parties, moved to Peralta from Albuquerque eight years ago, seeking a smaller community to start a farm and raise a family.  

Felina Martinez | News-Bulletin photo 

Kristin Walls, artist and owner of KAES Painting 101, in her studio located in Peralta. Walls work adorns many homes and businesses in the area, and brings joy to countless community members. 

“When we came down here and checked it out, we just fell in love with it,” said Walls. “I love the people down here. They’re free-willed, very lax and they just love animals and love community.” 

Walls expressed interest in art throughout her childhood, but said 10th grade is when she really delved into it. 

“I think it took my brain quite a few years to mature into the process of painting, and then once I picked it up, I just fell in love with it.”  

Once out in the world, Walls pursued a few different paths and eventually found herself working as a receptionist in Albuquerque. In 2009, her aunt and uncle had a baby and asked if she could paint a few monkeys on the nursery wall.  

“I never considered painting on walls,” she said. “So I was like, ‘Well, if you let me paint on a wall, I’ll really do it up for you guys,’ and I ended up giving them a huge rainforest mural. I came home and I’m like, ‘I really like this!’”  

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Walls painted a stunning, commissioned landscape mural depicting the beauty of New Mexico on a couple’s backyard brick wall in April 2022. 

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One of Walls’ other public facing murals in the community is at La Vida Felicidad center in Los Lunas created in August 2023. Walls said she will soon be working with them again to create another mural in their garden area.

Walls began painting more murals and started to gain a large following on social media, which led to someone reaching out to her in 2015 asking if she would lead a private paint party in Tijeras.  

Paint parties are fun, instructor-led paint sessions that guide attendees in creating usually a simple, yet stunning painting modeled after an example from the instructor that people inexperienced with painting can create through step-by-step guidance.  

“I never taught before, so it was extremely intimidating,” said Walls. “I know that I know what I’m doing, but can I teach it? And so I did the one party and absolutely fell in love with it.” 

Ignited by new-found passion, Walls decided to quit her receptionist job to pursue art full-time. It was a gamble that paid off, as Walls’ following and booking requests for murals and paint parties began to grow more and more as time went on.  

Inspired by her mother, who unexpectedly passed away in 2022, she decided to take another leap of faith that same year to establish a studio space in what is now her current location. 

“She was amazing, my favorite person,” Walls said endearingly of her mother, who was a huge supporter of Walls and her pursuits all throughout life. “(The building) was going to be a surprise for her because I was going to have her 60th birthday party there, but she passed away six weeks before she turned 60.” 

Walls’ art has helped get her through some tough times in her life, which is partially why she gravitated toward her signature bright and cheerful art style, as one of the biggest driving forces behind her craft is to make people happy.  

“Kids love it and people are awestruck in the end. I’ll be sitting there painting windows and have people come up to me, give me stuff and say things like, ‘You’re bringing so much happiness to our community. Thank you!’” Walls recalled. “It’s such a good feeling. It’s definitely the endorphins that come out of it and just the pleasure it brings other people … nothing is quite like it.” 

Felina Martinez | News-Bulletin photo 

Walls freehands her murals with exterior paint and says a lot of what she paints comes to her as she goes. She is usually given a few pointers from clients about specific things they want depicted in it, and then she “trusts the process” to take it from there. 

“The nice thing about paint is when it dries and you don’t like it, you can paint right on top of it, and that’s what I teach in my (paint) parties,” said Walls. “I have a quote above my butterfly (in the studio) that says, ‘Trust the Process.’ Caterpillars turn into butterflies because they have to trust that process. 

“It’s my metaphor, to say you’re changing, you’re turning into something new and it’s scary and it’s painful and we don’t know what the outcome is, but God does. If I can trust that light at the end of the tunnel, then I’m just going for it. It’s just a very positive directive I’ve tried to keep in my life.” 

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In 2022, Walls created a colorful, commissioned mural on the side of Grandma’s Pot Shop dispensary in Peralta. She said it attracted many out-of-town visitors and is one of her favorite murals created to date. 

After a mural is complete, she covers it with a polyurethane gloss on top to ensure it lasts a long time. One of her favorite murals she’s made to date is one painted on the side of Grandma’s Pot Shop dispensary in Peralta.  

“It’s probably my favorite just because it hit the news. Yeah, special thanks to the haters,” Walls chuckled. “People saw the news from all over the state. They came down here just to drive by and look at it to see what all the hype is.” 

As such, Walls said her advice for budding artists is to not let negativity dissuade you from creating the art you want to make.  

“Don’t let anybody tell you to stop. It’s those naysayers that made me really push forward,” said Walls. “If you have that desire in your heart, that dream, that talent and you know that this is what you want to do, do it! Do not let anybody tell you no.” 

You don’t need to be a full-time artist to create beautiful artwork though. Walls welcomes all to attend one of her paint parties as there is sure to be something for everyone. 

“I love first-timers, people who have never painted before because, at the end, people are like, ‘I can’t believe I painted that!’” she said. 

Walls assures people at the beginning of the class that everyone’s painting will look different, which is part of the fun, so painters shouldn’t be discouraged if theirs doesn’t look exactly like the sample.  

“If they’re intimidated with it, come in and let’s just have a good time,” said Walls. “I am not going to let you leave disappointed.”  

Walls also provides mobile paint party experiences across the state and regularly hosts private paint parties for birthdays and get-togethers of any occasion at her studio or at people’s homes and businesses.

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Walls regularly hosts private paint parties for different occasions, left, at her studio or at people’s homes and businesses.

Felina Martinez | News-Bulletin photo 

Walls’ crocheted iguana, right, sits among a row of canvases in her studio as part of her paint party set up. As well as being a gifted painter, Kristin Walls is also an avid crocheter who provides private crochet lessons to those interested. 

An avid crocheter, Walls also provides one-on-one crochet lessons at her studio for beginners and sells unique crochet-creations and painted art through her online Etsy shop called the Best Yarn Barn.  

“The more art I put in the world, the more happiness that comes back to me — it fills my soul,” she said with a beaming smile.  

Walls is looking to make a website soon, but in the meantime folks can stay in the loop and see upcoming paint parties at the studio, located at 2474 Bosque Farms Blvd., by visiting her Facebook or Instagram page listed under KAES Painting 101.  

If you’re not on social media and would like to request information about paint parties or commissioning a mural, Walls said you can email her at [email protected] or reach her by phone at 505-974-9430. 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.