New Wynne Home exhibition explores classic style with modern twist

For fans of the classically painted form, seeing the old masters work in person can be a tough feat to accomplish.

Long trips to the Houston or Dallas museums to see a passing Rembrandt, Rubens or Caravaggio are incredible, but getting your ‘chiaroscuro’ or portraiture fix can come few and far between.

Luckily for Huntsville art lovers, the Wynne Home Arts Center is hosting a new exhibition by Nancy Hines entitled “In the Classic Tradition,” which playfully hearkens back to the impressive techniques that originally put painting on the map.

The Huntsville High School grad and University of Texas alum has spent much of her life as an educator and her passion for teaching is paralleled with a lust for knowledge as well.

“I taught for nine years at the junior high level and then went up to the high school level,” Hines said Wednesday. “Then I got the chance to go to a workshop in Italy and I loved the instruction so much that I cashed in my retirement and went to school in Italy at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence with instructor Michael John Angel.

“It was such a classical form of instruction and it was one of the reasons I titled this exhibition “In The Classic Tradition,” and it is the style that I still prefer to use. It’s not the only style that I like, I look at a lot of different art, but even when move to try other things, I tend to swing right back to my roots.”

As seen in her powerfully diverse collection of paintings at the Wynne Home, Hines’ roots are firmly planted in the balance between light, form and expression. From elegantly rendered still-life pieces, to hyper-realistic, often humorous portraits, Hines’ technique is classically cemented, but her subject matter is far more complex — partially abstracted and modern.

“What you’ll see in the show is multiple directions, which is very typically the way that I work,” Hines said. “I don’t tend to go in one direction or hone in on one thing. I’m not sure if that’s my personality or just the teaching background that I have, but I’ve gone in a few different directions in this show. You’ll see some humorous things and some portraits that are absolutely emphasizing an unusual aspect of someone’s personality that I’ve chosen to celebrate as being just as important as exterior beauty.”

Hines’ paintings, while rendering each subject in characteristically flowing brush strokes, allow the subject to exude raw emotion, even when the face is absent from the frame.

“You’ll see one of my absolutely beautiful friends who just so happens to be biting her nails,” Hines said with a chuckle. “Or a portrait of my nephew who has a really bad temper and he let me do a painting of him kind of exploding. Those kinds of things are not normally what people celebrate in a portrait. I love to paint hands as well and you’ll see some very large hand portraits because it is very much about a relationship. It’s not one person’s hands, it’s always more than one in that series and it’s so much about their relationship along with the characteristics of their own hands.”

For Hines, painting seems to be the perfect method of forming a connection between the subject and the viewer. The energy, emotion and quirkiness she picks up on — even in her own self portrait — is delivered to the audience in an perfectly nostalgic and relatable style.

“It’s absolutely about people. People. People. People,” Hines said of her greatest inspiration. “It’s about the way they are and they way they relate to each other. That, along with the play of light and color, is very important to me.”

“In the Classic Tradition” opens on Saturday at the Wynne Home Arts Center with a public reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Artist remarks will take place at 5 p.m. The show will remain up until Oct. 28. For more information, visit