Barbara Benedetti Newton 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 retail, 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, following several life-changing events and with the support of her second and final husband, Jay Newton, Barbara left K2 after 16 years to return to art full time. 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, Newton retired from teaching in 2006. Her work has been included in American Artist, International Artist, The Pastel Journal and The Artist’s Magazine, as well as numerous other publications.
In 2002 Newton began exploring other mediums and for the next decade soft pastel became her primary focus. With a change of medium, Newton also departed from her trademark light-filled still life subjects to impressionistic landscape scenes. In 2013 Newton authored the book Art Answers: Pastel Drawing. In 2014 Newton returned to still life paintings, this time working in oil as can be seen in her 2014 Archive – Still Lifes.
2015 was a year of change with Newton and her husband realizing their dream of relocating to Black Diamond, WA, the ancestral home of Barbara’s father. With the move came bittersweet decisions to create a more balanced life. Newton reduced the number of her brick-and-mortar galleries as well as her entry into competitive shows. She began painting with local painters, painting local scenes and generally cutting back on time spent away from home.
In 2016, ten years after Barbara resigned from teaching she was pleased to instruct a workshop for the Northwest Pastel Society in conjunction with judging their annual Members Show. She also taught several one-day workshops in her new studio. Also in 2016, Barbara created new paintings for two US art print publishers.
Barbara is a Charter Member, Signature Member, past president and 10 Year Merit Member of Colored Pencil Society of America; a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of the West Coast, Pastel Society of America and Puget Sound Group Northwest Artists. Barbara is a 2013 International Association of Pastel Artists Master Circle Honoree (IAPS) and received Distinguished Pastelist designation in the Northwest Pastel Society in 2015. She is a Life Member Honoree of Women Painters of Washington.
Newton is represented by Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seattle, WA, State of the Arts Gallery, Olympia, WA, The Attic Gallery, Camas, WA, The American Art Company, Tacoma, WA, and Scott Milo Gallery, Anacortes. She has been with Daily Paintworks, showing and selling work online since 2011. Her work is in collections worldwide.