Mary Newcomb was born in Harrow-on-the-Hill but she developed a passion for the English countryside while growing up in Wiltshire. After taking a science degree at Reading University, she taught maths and science at Bath High School. In 1945 she volunteered as a student helper at the Flatford Mill Field Studies Centre, established by the bird painter Eric Ennion on the Suffolk-Essex border. Lodging at Willy Lott’s cottage, overlooking a favourite scene of Constable, she learned the arts of observation and sketching. After marrying, she lived in the Waveney Valley and ran a pottery until, in the mid-1950s, she found her vocation in painting. At first exhibiting locally, especially with the Norwich Twenty Group, she eventually exhibited with the Crane Kalman Gallery in London after showing her work to the art dealer Andras Kalman and, from 1970, she had a dozen solo exhibitions there as well as shows across Europe and America.
Newcomb’s paintings celebrate the rhythms of nature and the rituals of rural life – wildlife, farm animals and agricultural shows, or incidents glimpsed as she travelled by bus, train and bicycle.