Newell, a painter of cattle and pastoral landscapes, was born in Berrien County, Michigan in 1870. He became a student of Edgar Melville Ward (1849-1915) at the National Academy of Design, after graduating from Albion College in Michigan and Columbia University. Newell also studied under Will S. Robinson and F. E. Courter at the Teacher's College of New York. Newell himself became a National Academician in 1937, won several awards, and exhibited at the National Academy regularly between 1901 and 1944. In addition, Newell was president of Allied Artists of America and a member of New York's Grand Central Art Galleries, called the conservative wing of American art by Art Digest.