As we settle into 2024, the initial celebration of the New Year has given way to a more reflective period, an ideal time for goal-setting and intentions.

While the buzz of New Year’s resolutions may have faded, the true work of sculpting our dreams into reality is timeless.

©2020 Lori McNee, “Western Winter” 19×43, oil on panel

The Art of Small Steps

My artistic path has been paved with baby steps. I vividly recall the days of balancing the tender chaos of motherhood with the pursuit of art.

Yet, it was during those bustling times that I discovered the positive impact of goal-setting, especially mini-goals.

Inspired by Kevin MacPherson’s 100 painting challenge in “Fill Your Paintings with Light and Color,”  I translated fleeting moments into 6×8 oil studies.


Lori’s plein air painting in New Zealand

This journey of plein-air studies was a testament to the power of daily practice and perseverance.

A friend offered to show my 100 little works, and from that Kneeland Gallery began representing me!

The Ripple Effect of Celebrating Small Wins

My passion for wildlife art found its expression during the quiet hours of my children’s slumbers. It was then that I realized how small victories could ripple outward, creating waves of opportunity.

My contributions to organizations like the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited were more than just acts of charity; they were stepping stones that led to a cascade of achievements, from book illustrations to galleries and coveted exhibitions.

©1989 Lori McNee, “Barrow’s Goldeneyes”

And below is the first book I illustrated way back in 1996!

Famous Friends of the Wolf Cookbook: Benefiting Wolf Recovery in the West (and a few pages as examples).

These moments, as modest as they might have seemed, were the building blocks of my artistic identity.

Sketching Goals: The Convergence of Vision and Practice

A sketchbook is where goals intertwine with the raw expressions of a pen or pencil. By transforming a simple sketchbook into a hub for goal-setting and visions an artist has a living archive of their creative journey.

Each page serves as a reminder and a map of where one wishes to go.

A page from Lori’s gouache sketchbook and note-taking journal

Timelines: The Framework of Artistic Aspiration

As an artist with a myriad of interests, I’ve found that goal-setting is akin to sketching the outline before a painting—it provides structure and clarity.

From local art fairs to the pursuit of signature status with esteemed art societies including Oil Painters for America and The American Impressionist Society, deadlines have propelled me forward.

Goals are like silent motivators behind each collection prepared for gallery exhibitions, each new series developed, and each technique mastered.

©2022 Lori McNee, “On the Prowl”

The Grace of Adaptability

Now with my nest emptied, I juggle grandchildren’s laughter, the stewardship of our family farm, and the joy of teaching globally. I embrace the art of flexibility.

©2023 Lori McNee, “Nest” 12×12, oil and mixed media on panel

“The palm tree that bends in the face of the storm does not break.”

The canvas of life is ever-changing, and our plans must be as fluid as the paints we use. This adaptability has become a cornerstone of my creative fulfillment, allowing time for my art to ebb and flow with the tides of life.

The Palette of Lifelong Learning

I am delighted to share the palette of knowledge through a variety of online courses available at

These oil painting courses are handcrafted to inspire, teach, and invigorate artists at every stage of their journey. From the comprehensive exploration of water-mixable oils to the freedom of plein air painting, each course is a conduit for creativity and growth.

As we forge ahead into this year, let’s not merely dream, but actively mold those dreams into our reality.

With each brushstroke and each sketch, let us step confidently toward our goals, painting our future with intention and grace.

Happy New Year and Painting!