Rather than merely producing an enticing image at its best, the resulting manifestation of the unbiased creative spirit is Substance, with an endless, unpredictable beauty. 
Robert Datum


“In this state you do not know what you are looking at — that is awareness.
If you recognize what you are looking at, you are experiencing the old, what you know.”

“You have to touch life where nobody has ever touched it before.
This cannot be taught.”

U.G. Krishnamurti


True freedom in painting comes when one sees that there is no alternative than to give oneself up.
From this complete resignation, the feeling of the whole world bursts like a flower from its bud.
This is the act of creation, not that of imitating your conceptions of what is seen.
Robert Datum


While painting nature before me, I find it best to let go of all concepts and thoughts about it, and how it might be depicted.
Just a cloud of unkowing, a totality that is felt rather than discerned. 
Robert Datum


“Art is the act of navigating without a map.”
Seth Godin - Linchpin


Art is a participatory activity.

The reason why the artist sometimes feels like they didn’t create the work of art is because the part the of the self, the I-ness, the ego, was literally not involved. For a brief moment, a larger part of the self, was directly accessed.
The ego wants to be able to take credit for producing the work, but doesn’t feel worthy. Like it was too easy.
This is the false-self, and exists primarily for survival.
The true-self couldn't care less if it gets credit or blame, because it is indifferent to these conditions.
The creation of a true work of art is the participation with that which is larger than yourself.
You cannot force it to happen, it will decide when.
Robert Datum


“Like Minerva from Jupiter’s head, philosophy springs from the poetry of the infinite, divine Being. And thus in philosophy, too, the irreconcilable ultimately converges again in the mysterious wellspring of poetry.”
Friedrich Hölderlin, Hyperion


Although I find painting directly from life with its infinite variety of variables to be the source of my motivation, one of the most challenging aspects is not to allow the conceptual associations of language to limit my ability to freely arrange the harmonic structure of the composition.

Bonnard found that painting directly from life was too distracting for his sense of the mood that he wanted to achieve in his composition.
He would make visual notations in his small sketchbook and take them back to the studio to "dream" with color.

Since I enjoy painting on location and at present do not have a studio, I find it necessary to reduce painting to one tonality and then allow the hues to present themselves in a similar way that musical relationships are "found" by the intuitive association of improvising.
Robert Datum


These monochromatic/mono-valued paintings are the reduction of disparate elements to the point of approaching substance. Not the substance of the medium, but that of substance itself. (matter)
When light is not present with its electromagnetic radiation bombarding matter’s orbitals to reflect the hues of visual sensation, what it it really?
This “stuff”, not as a conceptual framework to facilitate the organism’s survival, (mind-stuff/citta) but as it in-itself can be the gateway towards infinity.
The unity present within the uniform hue and value of paint, helps it approach a parallel with the pre-cognized substance or “stuff” of the world.
Robert Datum


Using an excessive amount of paint helps me to facilitate a kind of entropy that is similar to the infinite variety in the creative force of nature.
The application of paint works as an inquiry towards this gigantic mass of possibilities where somehow it locks into its pre-developed form that was already there yet hidden.
Robert Datum


"The difference between the mere dilettante and the genuine artist consists precisely in the fact that the former remains stuck in the mere preliminaries of art and science without ever getting to the heart of the matter, whereas the latter goes beyond this to freedom and creates a free "art".
F.W.J. Schelling, Grounding of Positive Philosophy


Radical Empiricism
This Empiricism is progressive. That which is created comes forth the artist can not be aware of, precisely because there is no reflexivity going on in the artist's mind at the time. It comes forth on "its own". At least this is how it feels.

To begin with ecstatic transcendence, the absolute other of conceptual thought. Here lies the direct path which becomes immanent.

Painting here becomes a direct philosophical act. More than resulting in pages of arranged concepts about this act. It is the act.

Robert Datum


Productive intuition precedes reflective activity.

This productive intuition is a force of necessity that we are not conscious of. It is a preconscious activity connected to our original condition of wholeness. This is an involuntary level of awareness. The act of intuiting and the object are originally one. This is a generative act.

Our reflective activity is the world of concepts that is verified by our sensations. This is the conceptual 'split' that separates the self from the world as an 'other'. It separates man from nature, concept from image, himself from himself. Concepts arise when we separate the act of producing from what is produced.

When one is really painting (in a completely intuitive state), the reflective activity doesn't matter at all. There is a direct connection to the sensuous world that precedes concepts and leads to a unity.

This is precisely why it is necessary for me to paint directly from nature. Anything other than that immediately enters the divisive world of concepts."

Robert Datum


"The vibrant explosion of life precedes the application of reason's web of order and necessity."
Robert Datum

"It's important to refuse the self-gratifying conceit of a settled knowledge, and instead respect the magnitude by which existence exceeds our capacity of comprehension."
"For instrument demands we refuse the temptation to surrender our role as creator for the far less risky role as imitator".
Schelling, The Grounding of Positive Philosophy


"I prefer to be absolutely flooded with sensations while painting. Bringing my easel outside the studio is all I need for inspiration. To feel my way through the form with my minds eye on the oneness of the whole thing is what I am doing, while simultaneously the real content of the art is performed by something larger than me."
Robert Datum 


"The beauty in painting comes about unconsciously while pursuing what feels instinctively true while in a playful manner. Whenever I set out to make something beautiful it usually ends up limited and mediocre."
Robert Datum


"To penetrate into the deepest secrets of nature, one must not tire of inquiring into the opposed and antagonistic extremes of end points of things. To discover their point if union is not the greatest task, but to do this and then develop its opposite elements out of their point of union, this is the genuine and deepest secret of art." 
Giordano Bruno

"The beautiful is what absolutely identifies the universal and the particular, or unites the species and the individual, as in the forms of the gods. This identity is also truth."
"Beauty is what the thing really is, (the eternal concept) considered purely in itself, without any reference to any external situation."
"Indifference supplies a Jacob's ladder to the absolute."
"The artist is possessed by the idea, but not fully in conscious possession of it."
"The artist is ultimately the tool of the absolute. (knowledge is exoteric)"
F.W.J Schelling, Bruno

"Art emerges in the generosity that is liberated by the suspension of the ego's hegemony."
"The spiritual eye glimpses the sublimity of freedom only through the proxy of the beautiful. There is no direct access to the sublime."
F.W.J Schelling, Philosophical Inquiries in the Essence of Human Freedom


"Pure substance can be revealed through the process of painting only when the will is sublated (aufhebung) and acts in accordance with what is absolutely essential."
"This is similar to the Neoplatonic "pure matter" of which only presents itself when one does not seek it. It flees when one grasps for it or wants to transform it into knowledge." 
"The multiplicity of existence can only relate to unity of essence through the crisis state." 
"As in the origin of mythology it was not a person who created the history of the gods, but in the crisis that took place within their own  consciousness simultaneously with the development of language, polytheism emerged."
Robert Datum


"Through the process of painting, one transcends from the real to the ideal without being conscious of the transition. This happens only without being conscious of this transition."
"The ideal cannot be accessed through the will of ascertaining the concept of it. It is revealed only through letting go while simultaneously being completely focused on what is primarily at hand."
Robert Datum


"To discern the eternal within things means to see thought and being united in them through its essence alone, not positing concepts as effects of things, nor things as effects of concepts: Thing and concept are not united through the connection of cause and effect; they are united through the absolute; They are but different aspects of the same thing."
F.W.J. Schelling, Bruno


"The artist who wishes to attain it (nature) in the true sense must seek it at a deeper level than even nature has suggested and than the mere surface features of the figure show."
F.W.J. Schelling, The Philosophy of Art

"He should unveil the interior of nature... not satisfy himself merely with the usual appearances of that form, but bring the more deeply concealed truth to the surface. He must penetrate into the deepest connections... he must show the human form not as it actually appears, but as it is in the design and idea of nature, which no real form fully expresses."  Ibid.

"Content and form are one within the absolute"  Ibid.

"Sublimity appears everywhere as the absolute and universal form of art in which the particular is there only for the sake of taking up the entire element of infinity into itself."  Ibid.

"In Beauty, the particular form appears reconciled with the absolute form and completely taken up into it, one with it."  Ibid.

"The particular form should itself be the absolute form; only then does it reside within indifference with the essence and allow this essence to be free."  Ibid.

"There is no choice for genius, since it both knows and desires only what is necessary."  Ibid.

"Chaos is the fundamental intuition of the sublime. Our vision perceives the greatness that transcends our vision as chaos."  Ibid.

"Every true work of art is an absolutely necessary one; one that might equally be or not be does not deserve this name."  Ibid.

"Truth and beauty are never related as end and means. They are one, and only a harmonious disposition (true morality) is receptive to poesy and art. Poesy and art can never really be taught." 
F.W.J. Schelling, System of Transcendental Idealism


"Painters have to learn to keep the shop door of memory in the presence of nature: to see and not think we see. When we do this, our eyes are lighted from within, and the face of nature is transformed; and we teach the world to see reality in a new light. Such is the mission of art."

"Our intelligence is occupied with the contemplation of effects. It should be occupied with the contemplation of cause. In this case art would cease to be mere imitation. Through the representation of forms its purpose would be to communicate intelligence"
George Inness


"The language of nature is the mother of all languages; and therein stands the whole perfect knowledge of all things".

Jacob Boehme - Aurora


"There is something to Shelling’s statement about Art being the absolute synthesis of freedom and necessity. When put to the point of crisis, I think that one behaves out of true necessity. This point is where the painting speaks in its own astonishing voice."

Robert Datum

“The orderly distribution of the whole nature of things methodically arranges each particular”.

Iamblichus, On the Mysteries

"Painting must begin with a direct contact with visible nature. This infinite material impression is crucial for me to trust completely before an authentic finite representation presents itself."

Robert Datum

“The generation of the One is the destruction of the others, and the generation of the others is the destruction of the One.”
Proclus, Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides

“Parmenides admonishes Socrates not to look to the opinions of men but to the nature of things”  Ibid.

“Intellect knows the cause, while opinion knows only the fact.”  Ibid.

“Discursive intuitive intellect contemplates the transcendent Forms - (things in themselves) while Sense-perception deals with individuals- and with Forms not separate from their substrate.(Matter)”  Ibid.

“We must proceed upwards from the sensible appearance to the intelligible cause”  Ibid.

“Derived concepts are actually less respectable than sense-objects and the common qualities inherent in them.”  Ibid.


"Soutine's Ceret paintings have fascinated me since I was first introduced to his work in high school. Here, he seems to arrive at representation by the most unpredictable means. There is a painting at the Baltimore Museum of Art which I used to visit on a weekly basis that goes directly to the heart of painting. It is neither day or night. Everything is illuminated from within. The painting looks almost as if it were grown rather than depicted. The fact that he wanted to destroy many of these paintings shows that the content is the result of pure desperation. The fine line between bringing forth something new and complete failure. Paint itself bearing the alchemical relationship of light and matter."

Robert Datum


"I have always been interested in painting what is close at hand. (People and places I can easily access) Without any particular concept in mind, I find repeated attempts at the same subject can offer a glimpse of something beyond the usual concepts, while gradually revealing the building blocks of some sort of authentic existence."

Robert Datum

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