Newton was born in Sydney, Australia. He completed a science degree at the University of Sydney in 1982 before studying painting at the Julian Ashton Art School, where he received a diploma of art with distinction in 1987.
Since 1995, Newton’s work has been featured in the Archibald Prize and Salon des Refusés exhibitions, and he has completed many commissions in Australia and overseas. His portrait of comedians John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver (Roy and HG) won the Packer’s Prize and the People’s Choice Award at the 2001 Archibald Prize. Newton has been an Archibald finalist ten times, most recently in 2012 with his portrait of David Gonski; he also has twice been a finalist in the Moran Portrait Prize, and in 2003 and 2010 won first place in the Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition.
Two of Newton’s portraits hang in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia, and in 2003, the gallery commissioned Newton to create a portrait of leading Australian businesswoman Imelda Roche. Newton is an official portrait artist for Parliament House in Canberra. He has painted prime ministers, Australian heads of state, and other dignitaries and celebrities.
In 2013, Newton was commissioned by Australia Post to design and paint a depiction of the Nativity scene for reproduction in the form of a minisheet for the 2013 Australian Christmas stamp issue.