The Mississippi River near Hannibal

  • 12” x 36”
  • Oil on Ampersand Gessobord, 2” birch cradle
  • $3900
  • Giclée Prints, 10″ x 30″ –  $395++ or custom size can be ordered.

The river town of Hannibal, MO is my birthplace. The spirits of Samuel Clemens and Molly Brown, among others, contribute to the character of Hannibal, which sits nestled among the bluffs of the Mississippi River. It’s a place where stories pique the imagination, soothe, scare and tantalize. Perhaps a reason is the unpredictable rise and fall of the river which creates an uncertainty as to where you might be able to stand tomorrow. The hospital where I was born is now abandoned and boarded up. My old high school is an elementary school. Things change during a lifetime. But the bluffs above the town change in geologic time, letting you know how brief our lives are and at the same time allowing for a sense of timelessness.

The painting blends many images relating to the area’s past and present. Downtown Hannibal sits in a valley at sunset with the iconic lighthouse above the river. A floodgate system now saves part of the town from the ravages of spring floods. I show workmen closing the gates as the water rises. Bison are imagined as having once wandered down the maple forested bluffs in autumn with hills made golden by falling maple leaves. A blackberry thicket grows along a bay inlet where a kayaker can harvest to her heart’s content. A water snake, turtles and catfish rest nearby while the startled frog leaps. A dragonfly hovers above the mud bank and an eagle glides above. The middle panel shows Mark Twain’s statue standing in Riverview Park at sunrise. The right panel shows the channeled, but still wide river, used as a transportation artery; the paddleboat, the barge and faintly, canoes are indicated on the eastern bank. Our culture has chosen to try to control river flooding with levees, locks and dams. Native Americans used mounds as a solution for living with the breathing river. Interpretive centers for the mound cultures can be found throughout the country. Cahokia Mounds is nearby in east St. Louis. The river is an important flyway for migrating birds indicated by the ducks headed up river. A Great Blue Heron flies above fellow birds nesting in trees along the shoreline. A Native American of the Illini tribe gazes at a Monarch butterfly that has landed on his hand. A male Monarch flutters near the blooming butterfly milkweed where a chrysalis hangs. A rabbit hides under a sumac. A couple stands on Lover’s Leap which is painted with artistic license to resemble the Birger figurine, an ancient pipestone sculpture found south near the river.

Reflecting balls

April 7, 2016

  • Hand w ballsColored pencil, pencil on bristol board
  • 11″ x 14″
  • $495

My portrait is in this drawing 3x, once with sunglasses, one with glasses and one so small it would be hard to tell. My 4 year old granddaughter found all 3 images in a snap. In my paintings “Vessel with Oriole” and “Champs” you will also find portraits on a reflective surface.

Living on the edge of the prairie offers an escape to a place of wonder. Wendell Berry, author and bioregionalist, says, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”

The largest remaining stand of tallgrass prairie is found in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma. The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation has created the Maps in the Schools project. The maps will hang in the schools of the Flint Hills showing their particular location and, depending on the grade level, speak to some special aspect of the place, the life, the history and/or the science.

Some (and definitely not all) of the folks working on the project are Emily Connell – Director; Annie Wilson – Project Coordinator and High School Program Educator; Pam Collinge – Middle School Educator; Molly Wold – Elementary Educator; John Dunham – Mapmaker; Laura Zimney – Graphic Designer. If you are interested in knowing more about the project, contact the Flint Hills Discovery Center Map and Education Program.

High School Flint Hills Illustration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School Illustration

  • Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
    and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School Map

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Middle School

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project Middle School Illustration

    •  Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
    • 31” x 17.25” illustration
    • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
      and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall

There are over 50 things to identify in this Middle School illustration. An ID chart will be available in the educational materials that accompany the maps.

Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Middle School Illsutration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Middle School

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Elementary Illustration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Elementary Illustration

  •  Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
    and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Elementary

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Elementary

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation

If you would like to support this project, please contact The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation.

Marshall Family Bean Bag Game

December 30, 2015

Nat Anna Bean Bag Game - CopyNat Anna's side of bean bag game - Copy Kids side of bean bag game - Copy

  • Walnut and mixed hardwood trim on birch plywood, painted with acrylics and marker
  • 36″ x 24″

A Bean Bag Game for the Nat and Anna Marshall family
A woodworking project painted with images of the Marshall kids on a lily pad. Behind them are two Zimney cousins plus lots of cartoon characters that color their imaginations. The parents’ portrait is inspired by Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting. The surrounding landscape shows a world of plenty and plenty of fun.

Another bean bag game I made for the Zimney family can be seen here.

Ant Pot Drawing

June 25, 2014


  • Pencil on bristol board
  • 12″ x 10″ approx
  • Private collection, M/K P

An M.C. Escher inspired drawing of a Mata Ortiz ant pot by Mexican artist, Yoly Ledezma. The artist created a surreal image playing with size, perspective and value.


  • Oil on Canvas
  • 9″ x 7″
  • $595

In listening to Dennis Dutton’s Ted Talk on Beauty, I found that he describes my landscapes very accurately, except for the food part. According to Prof. Dutton we are all, no matter our current location in this world, attracted to the Pleistocene savannah on which our ancestors evolved. His description of an appealing landscape includes open grassland, stands of trees (apparently we also prefer them with forked trunks low to the ground), a body of water and a path, road or shoreline leading to the horizon.

Valentine’s Day is soon upon us. It’s a time to salute love, beauty and a sense of adventure. This little painting gives a nod to those and in one of my favorite parts of the world. Mark Twain placed Tom, Huck and Joe on Jackson Island for one of their adventures. The viewer sits above the Mississippi River at sunset celebrating the moment.

Lawrence Journal World writer Sara Shepherd wrote an insightful and, if I do say so myself, lovely article about my work. Link to the article here.

Celebration on the Upper Missouri

Master Drawings

May 7, 2011

Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog‘s 2010 film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams,  shows masterful cave drawings done by ancestors 25,000 to 32,000 years ago. The drawings were found in 1994 in Chauvet Cave in the south of France. Herzog is our film guide, but towards the end of the story he allows us some time alone to simply observe those beautiful drawings.  The film is in 3-D, which is perfect for viewing the uneven surfaces of the cave wall.

The Gargoyle’s Visit

March 22, 2010

The Gargoyle's Visit

“The Gargoyle’s Visit” was created with master printer, Mike Sims at the Lawrence Lithography Workshop when it was based in El Paso, TX. This lithograph is an attempt to create an atmospheric, yet naive or childlike drawing to accompany a child’s fairy tale. The lithographs are hand-colored and each is different. In this particular print, the gargoyle is still changing from flesh and blood to stone.

When a print is ordered, you receive a hand colored print, a copy of the fairy tale and a block printed cover sheet with a gargoyle image.

The Tale:

The Gargoyle’s Visit

You should know that in this enchanted country, once every century the gargoyles that sit in the tall castle towers come to life and wander the land. Despite their fierce appearance, the gargoyles aren’t evil. They are the protectors of their villages as well as keen observers. During their centenary nightwalk the gargoyles can decide to re-enter society by choosing someone to take over their watchful guard, someone who would benefit from 100 years of watchful silence.

Garrison Read (G.Read) waits for his next meal while sitting at his dining room table. Outside storm clouds engulf the setting sun, their dark shadows slinking across the fields and forests of the broad valley. Nestled against the darkening forest, a cluster of cottages and shops are dwarfed by an old castle with it decaying tower. Poised on the highest precipice of that weathered tower is a small gargoyle, the village guardian. G.Read resides within that old fortress. At one time he was a generous and happy man, but he, along with the other villagers, had grown fearful and isolated. Decades before a violent incident had embedded fear and suspicion in them, causing their hearts to close along with their doors. Visits between neighbors are short and to the point. The only person G.Read sees with regularity is his housekeeper and cook, Anna Sistant. She arrives after sunrise and leaves before sunset. After dark, there is an uneasiness in the village although the reasons are unexplained. The isolation has caused the old stories of magic and miracles to become faint dreams, so G.Read has little premonition that on this night his life will change forever.

The storm continues to rage through the deserted streets as G.Read sits alone in the castle dining room, having finished another huge meal. There is a knock at the door. Opening it, a wet and dirty dwarf-like man stands and asks for food, “Perhaps just a bit from your table.” The fearful and indignant G.Read shouts, “Away with your!”, slamming the door in the man’s face. Shortly thereafter the storm abates and the castle is enveloped in thick swirls of fog carried on a cold wind. Full to bursting from his meal, G.Read sits the slice of pear on the table and rests his head in his hands as a cold chill runs through his body.

At sunrise, Anna enters G.Read’s castle, but he is nowhere to be found. Her search reveals everything in order: the table set as she had left it the night before, except now sitting upon the checkered tablecloth among the wine, walnuts, pears and cheese, is a curiously familiar gargoyle.

Later that morning Frederick Read (F.Read), a brother of G.Read’s, arrives. A friendly fellow, F.Read asks Anna to plan a banquet for the whole village. Meanwhile, he begins repairing the old stone castle, first by setting the new gargoyle in the sentry position in the tower.

by NLMarshall

Nuthatches and Walnuts

January 25, 2010

Nuthatches and Walnuts

  • Oil on Masonite
  • 36″ x 12″
  • In a private collection

The painting began as an exercise in trompe l’oeil, deceiving the eye. An early American painter, Raphaelle Peale, came from a family of gifted realistic painters. I’ve always enjoyed one of his paintings,  “Venus Rising from the Sea, a Deception” at the Nelson Museum of Art in Kansas City. Peale’s painting draws on an ancient Roman story of two Greek painters in competition to see who was the better. Zeuxis painted grapes that attracted birds to his canvas. He turned to Parrhasios and asked him to remove the cloth from his painting. The painting of the drapery was so realistic, it had fooled Zeuxis.

The nuthatches are playful. The top one has knocked a walnut off the table and leans over to watch, hanging onto one of the pears. The low light casts long shadows and illuminates the clouds.