Marion Rauter (47) is a painter, who lives together with her three kids (Mia (20) Emma (10) und Felix (9)) in an inspiring home in Graz, where she also creates her pieces of art, which to a great extent reflect her own life.
What inspires you when it comes to painting?
Actually, always my life. In the past I tried to separate that from myself and to address ‘society-related’ topics. Many of those paintings have nevertheless reflected my personal life situation but I realized it only later. For example, the painting showing myself stemming against the wall – I actually stemmed myself against life.
How would you define success?
I do feel successful right now because I am lucky to be able to do two things which I really love. I do not consider my job work but rather my vocation. The fact that I can do that and that I am even able to make money with it, is really a gift. Maybe I do not have any luxury and I have to consider my investments but I can still enjoy life in a very simple way. I do not really miss anything and I feel good this way. The second thing I mentioned is my occupation as a yoga teacher, which also fulfills me. I can pass something on to other people and this is really beautiful.
Do you also do contract work?
Sure, I actually enjoy this very much. A lot of different people come with detailed ideas and then we mutually work on implementing it in a way that we are both satisfied. Just shortly, a lady hired me to make a painting of Freddie Mercury – a present for her husband. When she picked it up afterwards she had tears in her eyes and that was a very emotional moment for me, too. I felt totally confirmed of what I was doing. If, on the contrary, I do not have a good feeling regarding a job, I do not get carried away and it does not make sense. Then I do not accept the project.
How do you create your works? Is there a completed concept in your head or is it more an ongoing process?
There is always a plan and I could never, like others, make more than one painting at a time, because I need to complete every painting. Sometimes I know that I will never display a piece of work in an exhibition and I still finish it – I just need to do that. There are painting that imply a kind of negative energy although they are still part of my life process. Very often I give those paintings away – for example I donate them for social projects – because I realize that they do not suit me anymore. Still, I finish every cycle because otherwise it would cost me too much energy.
Are there works that nobody has ever seen?
Sure. Sometimes I just paint for myself.
How important is religion for you?
It is important but less in a way that a denomination might predefine it. I believe in a kind of power that we all carry inside and in life after death. I am sure that we are all energy that never ends. Especially, because I still intensively feel my dead son.
It is true that you lost your eldest son Thomas three years ago, when he was 19?
Correct. It is something that no mother ever wants to face. There were a few weeks when I really did not want to live anymore, because I had lost the sense of life. I was lucky to have the other kids who helped me a lot, because they deserved a mom who was alive and who was there for them. And painting was a big help, too. Back then, of course, I created works that I would not want to show now. The pain was just too severe. Now I have those two paintings of him on the wall and you feel that I was much better then and already on the way back to life. Painting and doing yoga were two possibilities to express myself and cope with everything. Still, you might not believe it, but Thomas’ death has also given me something. He was always my teacher and when he passed away he changed my life. I stopped waiting for things and do not postpone plans anymore because we all do not know how much time we have got left. I can also appreciate what I have got much more. I live for today. Waiting for more money, time, the perfect moment – it is no use! When I stopped waiting for things, I became braver, which makes me feel much more alive now.
Do you need to be emotionally stabilized to work?
No (laughs). It is much easier when I feel especially good or bad. There is not a lot going on within the comfort zone.
Can you make a living or live well due to your paintings?
I can make a living but of course there are times when it is more difficult. I had my first exhibition when I was 20 and following I could sell my paintings quite well. Then there were times when nobody bought anything. Looking back today, I need to say that I still have achieved a lot and I for sure had not imagined ever coming that far. Still, I must say that I have always been willing to do something else, when selling paintings has been tough. Even now I work as a yoga instructor and host many workshops (Yoga on the mountain, painting courses). I could still enjoy to focus on just painting.
Art is a very subjective and emotional topic – how do you deal with criticism?
It is of course a fact that when I display my paintings I also show my soul, which makes me vulnerable. I can handle it better now because I realize that people see things in my paintings that are related to their personality or history. If they see an injured, sad child, it is their injured, sad child. I know that a lot of things related to the observer enter their perception and that it is always a subjective opinion -no matter if it is positive or negative. I also want to keep the courage to display my works. Of course there are people who tell me that my paintings do not mean anything to them but this is part of the game if you present yourself in public. I would also not judge it because it is okay to not like everything.
What makes artwork valuable for you?
It is so difficult to measure value. For me there is only an emotional approach to art: something affects me or it does not. The most beautiful thing is if someone wants a painting because it does emotionally affect her/ him. Many years ago a forklift operator saw one of my paintings and its prize correlated with a month’s salary. He came back several times and looked at it until he finally purchased it, although he did not even have a designated space for it. He needed to have it because he had fallen in love with it. I will never forget that because that is a special kind of valuing.
Does any of your kids paint?
Not really. Maybe it is too present with me. I think Emma would be talented but she does not fancy painting. For me it was always my thing. If other children were playing, I was painting or drawing. None of my kids is like that. Thomas was very talented and creative, made great pictures and films but he did not paint either. Nobody has ever painted.
Originally you come from Carinthia but have lived in Graz for a long time. How important are roots and what would you consider your homeland?
My roots are definitely Carinthian and I was lucky to take a lot with me what I would not want to miss. Still, right now I feel at home in Graz although I do not want to cling to a location as I am open for everything. Who knows what comes next. Homeland is where you feel at home.
What is your best and your worst trait?
My worst characteristic is that I am chaotic but my best one is a result of this, namely that I am creative. I am not sloppy but I tend to get sidetracked. For example, I start cleaning up and then I end up redecorating the house.
Are you really as balanced on the inside as you seem on the outside?
Do you find me well-balanced (laughs)? Actually, I am chaotic and rarely at harmony with myself. I tried to fight it for a long time and wanted to be more organized. When I stopped fighting and accepted that this was actually me, I felt better. For I always manage to complete things – but my way. Like this house that I finished myself, although there were times when I wanted to run away. It suits me – somehow imperfect and still attractive. It is not totally done yet but that is also how I feel about myself: not completely finished (laughs).
What are you afraid of?
Since the death of my son there is not much that frightens me. If I was able to cope with that, I can survive everything. Of course, unconsciously, I am also afraid to lose another child but I cannot protect them from everything – not from illnesses, accidents, experiences I want to spare them. I believe that everyone of us has a book of life and that we are not able to influence as much as we think. That really made me calm. Due to Thomas’ death I have interestingly enough regained much more trust in life.
Which traits do you admire in other women?
Women who are themselves. Who are powerful and dare to show that they are women. This I find great, because I think that women too often hold back. I do so, too. We believe that we have to be good girls and need to adapt. According to me, women who are true to their selves are really beautiful and attractive.
Which superpower would you like to have?
I would like to be able to vanish – to transport myself to another place. For I think that physicality is also limiting. Maybe I would like to be a creature made of energy that is able to float freely.
What is still on your bucket list?
Living wholeheartedly, growing every day and appreciating the gifts that I was already given.
Who would you like to interview?
A lot of women come to my mind – maybe Jane Goodall or Coco Chanel. I would also find Nena an interesting interview partner.
Relationship: Can be really beautiful if we stop requiring.
Respect: Let everybody be the way she/he is.
Pain: Can be a gift, can make us grow. If you live a life with an open heart, you need to be prepared to deal with pain. Still, this is the only way to live your life honestly.
Failure: Also a good thing because you learn from it: fall down, get up, adjust the crown and walk on (laughs).
Self-confidence: Very important. Who is supposed to have confidence in you if you do not have confidence in yourself?
Womanliness: The principle of the bowl, the receiving. There is a special power developing from that.