Robin White was born in 1946 in Te Puke. She studied at Elam School of Fine Arts from 1965 to 1967 where Colin McCahon was her tutor. In 1968 she trained to be an art teacher. The same year, after meeting poet Sam Hunt, she moved to Paremata to take up a teaching job at Mana College, living in Bottle Creek. She lived there until moving to the Otago Peninsula in 1971 and by 1972 had become a full-time painter. Ten years later White and her family moved to the Pacific Island of Kiribati. The artist currently lives and works in Masterton.
White's focus on the depiction of specific people and New Zealand localities places her work firmly within the traditions of Regionalism and Representation in New Zealand painting. White was strongly influenced by the work of other New Zealand Regionalist painters such as Rita Angus and Don Binney. While still at school, she was exposed to Rita Angus' painting Portrait of Betty Curnow (1942) at the Auckland City Art Gallery and during the formative period of her career White repeatedly returned to view this work.2 Glenda at Portobello and Portrait of Betty Curnow share characteristic elements of Regionalism in both subject-matter and the use of rich colours and flattened, linear forms.