The son of a textile designer, Donald Bain was born in Kilmacolm in 1904 and later moved with his family to England. His art teacher was one of the Glasgow Boys, William York MacGregor, who introduced him to the work of the Scottish Colourists. Bain later became closely involved with the New Scottish Group and was strongly associated with J.D. Fergusson. After having worked in France after the Second World War, Bain eventually settled in Glasgow in 1948 where his work remained fairly unknown until his major touring exhibition in 1972.