James de Blas Psychiatric Superhero    

It all began in the early nineties with the ‘Legend of Humopia’ a healing story of how a planet parallel to the Earth begins to move down a path of insanity and how the spirits of nature work closely with humans to heal the brokenness of the ancient archetype, the madman. Then came the ‘Journey of the Madman’, where the madman becomes the centre of a vortex of insanity on a planetary scale. The beings of the planet go in search of their holy grail, the ultimate medicine, Atruehum. If they can find the ingredients and make the most powerful healing medicine ever created, they can use it to heal the first man and save the planet. Yet Atruehum still remains undiscovered...

The ‘Madman’ is the ‘Psychiatric Superhero’. My proposal for 2012-2013 is to create a superhero graphic novel. It will be an 80-100 page full colour graphic novel that brings the light warrior ‘Psychiatric Superhero’s’ deep inner struggles out into the open in a highly imaginative and haunting saga.

I am endeavouring to create a powerful series of art works that will visually display this archetypal journey, from a state of being cursed to one of liberation, and through the madman’s trials and tribulations illustrate how he becomes his own healer and the healer/redeemer of his planet.

His mantra is, ‘I take back my infinite power from the negative, even here even now’. The story traces how he masters ‘the law of opposites’. In doing so, he demonstrates to the natural kingdom how to harness the power of the negative universe by commanding its opposite and thus revealing what that opposite actually is. ‘Psychiatric Superhero’ passes through his struggles, alone in the dark place of the Hermit, and steps forth into the light – bringing the whole planet and the circle of life along with him.

The graphic novel is a story, but the experiences of the ‘Psychiatric Superhero’ and the strategies he employs to triumph over evil are drawn from the knowledge and practices I have developed in my daily practice of managing schizophrenia over many years. The mantras I have developed are colourful, yet powerful. The graphic novel is an accessible and engaging way to pass on this wisdom to a broader audience. It is also a format that lends itself beautifully to the expression of my unique sense of humour.

I believe the graphic novel will have particular appeal for those who have a mental illness, and their friends and families, as well as the general public.

My Meditation Practice

For two hours every day I go into the workshop of the mind and practice, like playing scales on the piano, but I practice mantras for healing and empowerment. The idea is to free yourself from the yoke of negativity and evil. Finding the ‘opposite of all evil’, rather than allowing evil to follow you around, tormenting you constantly. Unless you deal with it, there is no getting rid of it. You have to take it by the horns and shake it. And the more you do that the less troublesome it becomes. With practice it morphs into a docile farm animal.

I decided a long time ago that I was going to outrun the voices. I would drown them out with my own inner voice. So out of that decision my mantra making developed. And it is a successful strategy. Whatever the negativity behind the voices is, it is a bully and it responds to you telling it ‘what for’. It requires persistence but with practice you will succeed. I am sharing my experience of how to deal with the bully in the mind, because for mentally ill people that’s what it is.

The Art

I work in two styles: realistic still life, and surrealist landscapes and characters. I aim to produce a large ‘Psychiatric Superhero oil’ painting every three weeks (size 125cm x95cm) and a smaller Still Life painting weekly. Painting from life is a great learning experience and the skills acquired carry over to my larger works, which are the soul of my art practice.

Need for Resources

Schizophrenia is a very challenging illness, particularly socially. I manage my illness well, but at times tasks like going up the street to shop, or just hearing the neighbour’s voices, which would be straight forward things for those without the illness, can be an ordeal.

Living with schizophrenia, on a disability pension, covering the costs of art materials and living expenses makes for a very lean existence. When I have sufficient funds to buy paint, brushes, canvass and stretcher bars I can make great progress in my art work.

What I hope to achieve

I hope to achieve a unique brand of storytelling that will capture the imagination of my audience. Giving them faith in themselves, so that that no mental problem is too great. My core mantra ‘I take back my infinite power back from the negative, even here, even now’ will be woven into the fabric of the tale. Using the backdrop of powerful and significant places of healing in the Australian landscape along with Australian animals and birds ‘Psychiatric Superhero’ draws on the healing powers of nature — not unlike the Aboriginal dreamtime stories.

I have a dream that ‘Psychiatric Superhero’ will one day become a powerful computer game that will give all who play it valuable insight into the human psyche and how to live free of the modern scourge of recreational and illegal drugs and of course mental illness.

While I still have to manage my illness on a daily basis, friends and fellow artists frequently comment on the unfailing persistence and discipline reflected in my approach to painting and attending classes.

I believe with the ‘Psychiatric Superhero’ graphic novel I have an opportunity to entertain readers, while sharing my creativity, wisdom and healing philosophy. In this way I can make a valuable contribution to society.

  James de Blas