When God given skill meets a conscious effort - Rodney Kingston
Welcome to the Creative Life, Happier Life Blog, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Tell us about yourself...
My name is Rodney, I’m married with two young children and we live in Staines-upon-Thames. I work as a graphic designer on a weekly Christian magazine called the War Cry which is published by The Salvation Army. The work used to involve travelling into central London but since the global pandemic I have been working from home. The Salvation Army is also my place of worship and has been for most of my life. I couldn’t introduce myself without mentioning a passion for Tottenham Hotspur football club and sport in general. I like to run to keep fit and have completed three London marathons and many half marathons and 10Ks over the years. I recently bought a bike which I’ve enjoyed using to get around and about locally.
Here at CLHL we believe that creativity comes in all forms, from accounting to crochet! How does your creativity manifest itself?
In between family life and the day job I love to paint in oils. It is my number one passion and more than a hobby. It is part of who I am and something I have to do like breathing and eating. It’s hard to know why but there is just something completely satisfying about painting a picture in oil paints. The smell of the paints, the challenge is presents, the problem solving and the desire to make the next painting the best I’ve done keeps me coming back for more and more.
How do you think using your creativity enhances your well-being?
We live in a hectic world and it’s not easy finding time to do things you love when there are so many other things that must be done first such as household chores, work, shopping. There are also loads of brilliant ways to procrastinate such as Netflix, Instagram, putting the kettle on. I got to a point about five or six years ago that all those things and more meant I just wasn’t painting. I loved to paint, I thought about painting all the time, I looked at the work that others were producing but I wasn’t doing it and it made me unhappy. I decided that to not have that feeling I would simply have to make the time, which meant getting up earlier, staying up later and sacrificing time from other things. I forced myself to do the thing I love when I was too tired to do it and when my mind was coming up with a million excuses not to.
'Newington Causeway In The Snow'
Two things stand out that helped make me. The first was a 30-day sketch a day challenge. I posted the results on social media and because of that felt accountable. It showed me that I could find time every day in a month to draw and it showed me that a 5 minute scribble had value. Over the month I could clearly see an improvement in my drawing. The other was a commitment to get the first train into London so I could do an hour and a half painting before starting work in the office. I initially did this once a week over a three-month period and was amazed at what could be achieved. I built a portfolio of mini paintings in a short time, improved my skills dramatically and all by just setting the alarm a little earlier once a week for a short time.
These were simple steps but the feeling was incredible. I was ‘doing’ and not just ‘thinking about doing’ which made me happy.
How do you think using your craft helps you to connect with God?
I believe painting is a skill that God gave me but one that has required time and effort from me to become something that is satisfying. If I didn’t paint I would be neglecting a part of me that God created. I’m fortunate to be able to use my creativity in my graphic design job too. This is how I connect with God, by using what he has given me.
Do you think God works through your skill? How?
There is no doubt God uses the War Cry magazine to further his Kingdom. I’m part of a small team that produce the physical publication but there are hundreds of others who go out on the street and sell the magazine. It is distributed in prisons by chaplains and particularly well received in that environment. When it comes to painting I believe God uses it as a way for me to connect with others, I have met many people and had positive encounters as a direct result of painting. That has been either meeting people on the street while painting a picture,
having conversations at art fairs and exhibitions and welcoming strangers into my home for an open studio weekend.
Do you have any tips or golden nuggets of wisdom for any of our readers who may like to try accessing your creative skill?
There are no shortcuts. Don’t compare yourself to others. Have fun!
Where can we find you using your creativity?
QUICK FIRE ROUND! The stuff we all really want to know!
Pen or computer? Paintbrush
Home or abroad? Home.
On your bucket list? Having a painting of mine in the National Portrait Gallery Who would play you in a movie? No idea!
Skill you’d like to learn? Carpentry Favourite bible verse? No favourites!
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
Thank you Rodney! So there you go, perhaps painting with oils may be a new way for you to explore creativity? You can find more of Rodney's work at:
If you try out any of our contributors skills, pop it on Instagram (@creativelifehappierlifeblog) and give it the hashtag #CLHLblog