David Post was a lawyer. Eric Dahlin taught high school for more than three decades. Norman Hinman worked as a researcher in the UC Davis animal nutrition lab and before that, as a cowhand and ranch manager.
Now, in their retirement years, they're artists: good ones whose work commands a price; not hobbyists or dabblers.
For them and other Sacramento region residents, art is the second act of a creative life. Retiring from their longtime professional careers has given them time to pursue their earlier and continuing interest in art.
As a result, their art has deepened with new complexity and meaning.
"I see a lot of that today," said John Natsoulas, who owns the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts in Davis and organizes the annual California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Arts each spring.
At last year's conference, which included displays of participants' work throughout downtown Davis, he noticed that a growing number of the artists were past 50 and devoting their retirement years to creating art.
"They were telling me, 'I took sculpture in high school and college, but I did X for a living instead,' " he said. "More and more people are saying, 'I don't feel fulfilled. I want to do what I always wanted to do, but I listened to my parents and was practical instead.'
"And now they're fulfilling their dreams and making a little money off their art."
In some ways, they're also living the dream of millions of other retirees who seek to establish second-career, home-based businesses many times, creative businesses involving crafts or the arts after their 50s.
Because older adults are rejecting the idea of retirement as a time to slow down, the number of retirement-age people who identify themselves as self-employed has increased more than 5 percent since 2008, according to AARP statistics.
"I get people asking me about retirement," said Post, 67, who lives in Sacramento's Arden Oaks neighborhood. "I wish everybody had a hobby, something they passionately, passionately want to do. For me, art is more than a hobby."
His father, Alan, who died last year, followed a similar path, working for decades as the state's legislative analyst, then becoming a prominent painter after he retired. Post's late mother, Helen, was a widely recognized sculptor.
Not surprisingly, Post who led McDonough Holland & Allen's litigation department until his retirement in 2005 grew up surrounded by art and artists. Yet when he sought an outlet for expression during his working years, he first tried writing.
"I'd try to write short stories at night but drink copious amounts of espresso trying to stay awake," he said. "I was falling asleep trying to write."
By the mid-'80s, he turned to painting. His work, expressionist canvases complex in geometry and color, has found new freshness since he retired from the law and gained time to devote to thinking about art and making art.
"David's art wasn't a hobby before, but he didn't have time to pursue it with his whole heart," said D. Neath, owner of Sacramento's Archival Framing gallery. "Now he does.
"Eric Dahlin is the same way. He's doing bigger, more important work now than when he was teaching. Being a high school teacher has to suck the energy right out of your head."
Dahlin, 66, is a ceramicist who lives in east Sacramento a local boy, a baker's son, who grew up fashioning small boats and buildings out of the clay in the fields near his house. Until 2003, he taught ceramics at Encina High School.
"That's what artists do they get teaching jobs or they sell art, and that's tougher," he said. "One year after I retired, I sold 10 times as much as I did before retirement. It still didn't amount to what I made teaching."
When he retired, he bought five kilns for his garage studio. He has the time now to spend on bigger projects. He's been in more shows and taken on more commissions.
As a result, said Solomon Dubnick Gallery's Janet Kesmodel, his work especially his crow figures, glazed blackbirds reminiscent of the flocks flying over Central Valley farmland sells well.
"Eric's work has become iconic in Sacramento," she said. "People love his work. It's fun, and it has a lot of character. And it seems to be very Sacramento."
By contrast, Norman Hinman's art is more easily recognized as a craft: He is a woodturner who hollows out local wood, mostly black walnut, into gracefully flaring bowls with delicately natural rims.
"Yes, it's art," said Hinman, 81, who lives in the country south of Yuba City. "But I try to be somewhat practical and down to earth about it."
He began turning wood on a lathe in 1979 while making legs for a table, and he discovered his talent. Since his retirement in 1991, he has sold 75 pieces a year and had shows at The Artery in Davis. He also mentors other woodturners through the Nor-Cal Woodturners Association.
As a young man, Hinman worked on ranches in Arizona and Northern California. Now he spends his days making and selling art, but he remains as sensible as ever.
"Originally, I had to look for wood," he said. "Now people call me. A lady in Davis had a pear tree in her front yard taken down. I went over with my chain saw and hand truck, and I traded her a finished bowl for the tree."