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.
Newell loosened his style as time went on, employing broad areas of sunlit color but the concept of broken color of the impressionists was foreign to him. He did, however, apply pigment thickly with a palette knife and he included violet shadows as one may detect in his painting titled Their Winter's Store. A reviewer in Academy Notes in 1908 remarked that Newell's works were "painted directly from nature, in a broad and vigorous manner." Newell's paintings are not that easy to locate: the NAD owns Clear and Cold (1937), while the Butler Institute of American Art has two earlier works: By Drover's Inn (1917) and Unconquered (1919). In the National Museum of American Art Newell's Mists of the Morning (1910) may be found. A Day in May appeared in the annual exhibition of Grand Central Art Galleries in 1934. In addition, Newell worked as a WPA artist. In the Crawford, Nebraska Post Office, he executed murals: The Crossing in 1940 and a year later he painted Daydreams in the post office at Wallace, North Carolina. The painter died at Sharon, Connecticut on May 7, 1947.