Barbara Benedetti Newton, born 1943 in Puyallup, Washington, attended public school in Auburn, cosmetology school in Renton, and Burnley School of Professional Art (now renamed Art Institute of Seattle) where she studied with William Cumming among others. In 1965, Newton began her professional art career as a fashion illustrator for a major Seattle department store.
Married the same year to artist William Iles, they relocated to San Francisco where Barbara continued to work as a freelance fashion illustrator. After returning to the Seattle area, they purchased a filbert farm with 1902 farmhouse on Vashon Island. For Barbara, a 20-year hiatus from art followed. Her creative energy was used to raise their son and daughter, grow cut flowers for resale, develop a flock of wool breed sheep and work at nearby K2 Ski Corporation. She began work in the K2 factory then quickly moved on to Master Scheduler of Production and later, Buyer.
In 1990, after several life-changing events and with the support of her second and final husband, Jay Newton, Barbara left K2 after 16 years to return full time to art. The humble colored pencil became her path back and her introduction to color. Working exclusively in colored pencil for more than a dozen years, Newton became one of the masters of the medium and co-authored Colored Pencil Solution Book, published in 2000. A valued instructor at Frye Art Museum in Seattle and at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Oregon for more than a dozen years, Newton retired from teaching in 2006. Her work has been included in American Artist, International Artist, and The Artist’s Magazine, as well as numerous other publications.
In 2002 Newton began exploring other mediums and has been working primarily in soft pastel since then. Making the transition from a precise, time-consuming, transparent medium to spontaneous, fast-paced, opaque soft pastel has been a journey of discovery. With a change of medium, Newton also departed from her trademark light-filled still life subjects to impressionistic landscape scenes. She participates in exhibitions nationwide; her work is included in collections across the U.S.
She is a Charter Member, Signature Member, past president and 10 Year Merit Member of Colored Pencil Society of America; Signature Member of the Northwest Pastel Society; a juried member of Women Painters of Washington and a member of Pastel Society of the West Coast and the Eastside Association of Fine Arts.
Newton is represented by Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seattle, WA, State of the Arts Gallery, Olympia, WA, and The Attic Gallery, Portland, OR, The American Art Company, Tacoma, WA, and Women Painters of Washington Gallery, Seattle, WA.