Lilias Torrance was born in 1896. She studied at the Art Association of Montréal studying under William Brymner.
Newton moved to London during the First World War and volunteered with the Red Cross. During this time she also studied with painter Alfred Wolmark.
After the war she returned to Montréal established herself as a professional painter, creating portraits.
She helped found the Beaver Hall Group, participating in its first exhibition early in 1921.
Newton spent four months in Paris in 1923, studying with the Russian artist Alexandre Jacovleff, and won an honourable mention at that year's Paris Salon.
Newton was elected Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy, elected as a full member in 1937.
Eric Brown, Director of the National Gallery of Canada, commissioned her to paint his portrait in 1931. Following this commission she received many more.
Newton also taught out of her studio as well as at the Art Association of Montréal from 1934 to 1940.
She attended the Kingston Conference in 1941, and as an unofficial war artist, was commissioned to paint two portraits of Canadian soldiers. After the war, she traveled across the country painting portraits of the Canadian elite, and in 1957 was commissioned to paint the royal couple., Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Lilias Newton was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters. She held an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1972.
She died in 1980.