Charles Hinman, known for his shaped-canvas sculpture, was born in Syracuse, New York on December 29, 1932. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University in 1955. He played professional baseball for the Milwaukee Braves. He studied at the Art Students League from 1955 to 1966; then served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1958.
Hinman lived in New York City and held various part-time jobs while he continued to paint. He married Christy Sophia in 1959 and they had two children, Theodore and Delphine, but they were divorced in 1974.
Hinman taught painting and engineering drawing at Staten Island Academy, New York from 1960 to 1962, and at Woodmere Academy from 1962 to 1964. Since 1964 he has been a professional painter. He visited Japan, Thailand, India, Iran, Greece, Italy, France and England. He served as artist-in-Residence, Aspen, Colorado in 1966, and from 1971, he taught at Cornell University and at Syracuse University.
Somewhere along the way, Hinman perfected his hand at carpentry and began constructing wooden ribs that could add contours to his paintings. Called "top" art (for topographical), it won astonishing acceptance and was bought by major museums and collectors.