The majestic Angel Oak, Johns Island, South Carolina
This tree is believed to be over 1500 years old.

Trees have informed some of my work since I began painting over 20 years ago, particularly the live oak, with its twisted, tentacle-like branches and roughly textured bark.

Angel Oak is a live oak. It is native to the low country and is not very tall but has a wide spread canopy. Lumber from the live oak forests in the sea islands was highly valued for shipbuilding in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Angel Oak stands on part of Abraham Waight's 1717 land grant. Mr. Waight owned several plantations. The City of Charleston now owns Angel Oak.


Pete Hoge said...

The images here spark my
assertion that abstraction
is high art because it is
sourced in the fabric and
substances of nature.

As you also remark in how
you are inspired by the tree.

I wonder if abstraction is
just as representational as
figures or landscapes.

Tamar said...

Extraordinary tree. Thanks for posting this.

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...


You raise an interesting query: "I wonder if abstraction is just as representational as figures or landscapes." My opinion is yes...and no.

It's my understanding that true abstract art represents something, and often- not always- that 'something' is an aspect of the tangible world. Wikipedia: "Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world."

In the case of my own work, I hesitate to apply the term "abstract". "Non-objective" is a more appropriate term. I would venture to say that a lot of artists who were inadvertently part of the Abstract Expressionist movement would feel the same about their work. Take Mark Rothko, for instance: "I’m not an abstractionist...I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on." Did he consider his work to be non-objective, though?

I've segued a bit from the original topic here...Getting back to the tree, it's more of the impression of the tree (or other object) on my psyche and emotions that inspires and informs, and not the literal tree- in case anyone goes looking for any imagery in my work, for they'd have to go back 20 years to find it.

Interesting comments as always, Pete. Much appreciated!

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...


Have you seen the Angel Oak in person? It is truly amazing. I didn't manage to fit the entire tree into a one photograph. That's how broad its reach is!

Pete Hoge said...

that expands my view of