Meet Munrou-Keishla Rodriguez (@Munrou_ )
Puerto-Rican watercolor and digital illustrator Keishla Rodriguez @munrou_ discusses her inspirations, freelance advice and how she curates her dreamy, bubblegum pastel palettes for her body-positive, manga-inspired art.
We love that your work promotes a body positive message on social media during times of widespread body insecurity. What motivated you to create these edgy, feisty ladies?
It started as a way to draw myself in clothing that normally doesn’t come in bigger sizes. It helped me feel more confident about myself to imagine wearing clothing very different from what I would normally wear. After drawing myself in different clothes, they actually did look good on me! I noticed that models, or even the drawings I was seeing of women, didn’t represent how I looked. I decided to draw girls of all sizes so all girls could feel represented and more confident. With each girl I create, I feel more confident and love myself more.
Who are the biggest inspirations to your artistic style?
This is such a hard question. There are so many artists that inspire me daily! But the major inspirations to my artistic style are: Duane Bryers and Hiromi Matsuo. For my watercolors, my inspirations are Nemo, Victoria Gedvillas, Alisa Vysochina and Jacqueline de Leon.
You make frequent appearances as a guest artist at a variety of comic conventions. What is the most fun thing about attending?
The most fun thing about attending conventions is meeting long-distance friends and the artists that I admire on social media. It’s so fun to be able to talk face-to-face, exchange art and sit down after a long day to share a meal with them. Also, getting to meet new friends is such a treat!
What is your secret to picking the perfect, dreamy pastel color palettes that you use in your art?
The secret is to use lighter colors by adding more water to the paint and to have more than one palette. It depends on your water ratio. I use 3 mixing palettes that vary in the quantity of water for each color I plan on using. The colors range from light to dark for shading. Also, the type of paper you use makes those colors appear more vibrant. I personally love using cold-press paper for my work!
Favorite Bee Paper product and why?
I’m in love with the 100% Cotton Watercolor Paper! The texture and absorbency of the paper makes the most beautiful gradients and my colors look so vibrant on it! I can create beautiful, cotton candy clouds on this paper. Thanks to its texture, the water doesn’t dry so fast, which allows me more time to place and move the colors around. Also, the paper in the Bee Creative Watercolor Art Journal is so good! The paper absorbs a very good amount of water and the colors show up very vibrant, due to its texture. It’s definitely a must for my arsenal of art supplies.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced when creating your art and how do you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I have faced in my work is to finish a piece, even if it’s not perfect. I’m such a perfectionist, and, many times, I have thrown away paintings and drawings because they were not looking the way I wanted them to. I opted for the easy way out instead of working on my problem areas.
Every day is a learning process and not everything will look perfect. I aspire to push myself to tackle each problem in a piece one area at a time, instead of scrapping the entire piece. I have fun with the pieces I make, even if I see a lot of mistakes, because I know I will learn how to make them better for the next time.
There are mixed feelings in the artistic community about artists drawing from reference. What is your opinion on using references?
References are essential to learn how to draw. You need to know how something moves, how it looks in a certain position or how the light shines on it. I use references all of the time for my work, not only for drawing anatomy, but for the clothing, colors, atmosphere and background components. You can create moodboards with elements you wish to incorporate or to get inspired. Don’t just have one picture to reference from! Have many to choose from to build on your ideas and mental library.
We see that you upload videos of yourself speed painting your awe-striking characters on YouTube. For artists wanting to film themselves working, where do you set up your camera for filming and how do you work around it?
My camera and recording settings are very basic! I use my iPhone camera and I record at 1080p at 30 FPS, which is a very good resolution for art videos and it doesn’t take that much space as using 60 FPS. I place my phone on an adjustable camera arm mount and clip it to my desk. I like the camera to be at an above position and at an angle. A lamp above helps to have better lighting for cloudy days or for recording at night. I use Airdrop to transfer the video from my iPhone to my desktop. For editing, I use iMovie to speed up the video, do cuts, adjust the lighting and add some royalty-free music to make it more interesting.
What is the main message you want people to receive from your art?
The main message I wish people to receive from my art is that it doesn’t matter how you look; what matters is that you love and believe in yourself always.
Any advice for artists wanting to do freelance work?
- My advice for any artist who wants to do freelance work is a list:
- Have a goal in mind on what you want to work on as a freelancer and work on a portfolio for it. You can have more than one depending on what you wish to do.
- Share your work on social media, join groups and be active in the art community.
- Don’t work for free!
- You have to learn to do taxes, contracts and manage your budget.
- There are going to be times when you might not have a constant income. There is nothing wrong with having a part-time job to sustain yourself.
- Be responsible! Create a schedule to plan your days, projects, works and personal time.