She gains most of her inspiration from events that happen in life and marriage, but for the most part, Nash stays away from hot button topics or politics.
Anyone who's worked on a farm knows there can be some down time. Some people spend it playing on their phone, listening to music or reading. Penny Nash took the time to draw and that interest in the arts blossomed into a life-long passion and a weekly comic in the local newspaper.
After moving to Lidgerwood with her husband Don in 1977, Nash began working on the Joel Taylor farm. During down time waiting in line at the elevator or between hauls, she started sketching in the truck.
"I have always been a doodler so I started drawing funny things that would happen on the farm," Nash said.
After Nash left the farm, she worked shortly for Dakota Estates before finding a home as a part-time English teacher at the Lidgerwood School. Through the years she continued to jot down hilarious happenings with her students and life. Her single-page cartoons became so popular that the newspaper asked if she would be willing to let them publish some. Nash's first cartoon, titled "Two Cents" was published in the News-Monitor in May 1999.
More than 676 comics later, Nash said she never runs out of ideas. Everything and everyone in her life can be used as inspiration for a cartoon. During this time, her husband, two sons, friends and students have all appeared at one time or another in her artwork. When she creates the characters in her comics, Nash does alter the appearance so that any real life people won't be embarrassed.
"I have stacks and stacks of little slips of paper that I write all my ideas on," Nash said. "Then when I'm in the mood for drawing I just go through them. I can look at a piece of paper 20 times and then all of the sudden, boom, a cartoon hits me and I draw it."
Nash's process is a simple one, she noted. She usually takes a pencil and draws one comic's per page in an artist sketchpad about half the size of a regular school notebook. Each book contains 70-75 pages and she is now on book 14.
"Not all my cartoons that I draw are for the paper," Nash said. "Some are for the family or personal."
When the muse strikes, Nash knows to grab a writing utensil and go with it. She typically draws a batch of cartoons at once and then will take a break for a while.
She gains most of her inspiration from events that happen in life and marriage, but for the most part, Nash stays away from hot button topics or politics. There are a few exceptions including her annual Santa Letter comic and a strip about the IRS during tax season.
"People will stop me and say, that cartoon you did last week is me and my husband to the T," Nash said. "Every once in a while it's kind of nice when people will come up and say they could really relate to that cartoon. It's kind of nice to get a humorous perspective on things so you don't take things too seriously."
Like many young children, Nash idolized her mother. It was that affection they shared that pushed Nash toward creative expression in the first place. Then in junior high and high school, Nash's talent grew with encouragement from her friends and teachers.
"I thought my mom was the best drawer in the world when I was a little kid and I thought that is what I want to do, I want to be able to draw as good as my mom," Nash said.
Cartoons just seemed to develop into her passion but Nash also creates realistic drawings and ink drawings. She has had a lot of success with her work and even participated in many art shows before coming to Richland County. As she had gotten older, Nash has expanded her artistic interests and gotten away from the simple act of drawing, with the exception of the weekly cartoons for the newspaper.
It's a passion that still drives her and avid readers of her work can expect a couple new characters to possibly start appearing soon as Nash dives into life as a grandparent.
"You know how little kids say the darnedest things," Nash said of her granddaughter. "It's fun to see things from little kids' perspectives. I think that will be a whole other book of ideas so that should be good."