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Life After Work
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Realizing a dream deferred

By Susan C. Kim
Coastal Living
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(Coastal Living) -- "The path to fulfilling lifelong dreams is not always straight and narrow," says Ed Lane, standing in front of his easel. A former advertising executive turned passionate artist, he speaks from years of experience.

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Ed and Diane Lane decided to move to Hawaii and change careers.

Ed loved painting and drawing from an early age. But "serious art requires your full attention," he says, and he had other goals to pursue. Ed tucked away his paintbrush and started a career in the business world, ultimately becoming the creative chief of a Phoenix, Arizona, advertising firm. Along the way he also fell in love with Diane, who worked for the firm after graduating from the University of Arizona.

For years Ed toiled at the beck and call of the company, his clients, and an ever-present beeper. Then he proposed to Diane, and they agreed to trade their single asset -- a gleaming Rambler -- for an old Fiat station wagon. With the proceeds they bought a typewriter and mimeograph machine, and founded E.B. Lane & Associates Advertising and Public Relations.

Together they operated the company for 32 years -- producing countless television, radio, and print ads, winning several industry awards, and raising two children. Still, a dream deferred could not be denied, and when the Lanes sold the agency to their son, they decided to embark on an entirely new adventure. "It's never too late to start living your dream," Ed says.

The Lanes had vacationed in Hawaii for years and knew something about the islands' flourishing art communities. In 1986, the couple began the transition from a business-focused life in the desert to an art-focused life by the sea. They started by purchasing a condo in Wailea, Maui.

After spending the next several years visiting the island, meeting locals and artists, and going to art shows, they made a permanent move in 1993. "I could hardly wait to get there," Ed says. "I knew exactly what I wanted to paint."

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Picking up his palette after 35 years required some brushing up. Ed spent days refreshing his drawing skills at the Hui No'eau, a visual art teaching and exhibition center in upcountry Maui. Then, he painted every single day for two years before taking his work to galleries. Numerous art shows exhibited his landscapes, which radiate color and energy. Building on his success, he spent more time experimenting. Today his paintbrush skips across signature ruby canvases eight hours a day.

Meanwhile, Diane faced her own challenges. "I didn't know what I was going to do when we moved," she admits. Then a friend called "and asked me to take a class on silk painting at Hui No'eau. The moment my paintbrush touched that clean, white silk, it just clicked. I felt that tap on my shoulder saying, 'This is your new life.'" Diane merged that passion with her interest in fashion and sewing. For the past decade she's created vivid dresses, Asian-inspired jackets, and casual wear (ranging from $250 to $2,000) for her clothing line, Leilani Silks.

To fit their reinvented lives and accommodate two studios, the Lanes bought a new home in 2003. Here, they begin their days with a swim, followed by a painting session and breakfast. Sketching and painting continues through the afternoon. At night, they often watch fireworks exploding over the Wailea shore hotels. "Our true callings might have been delayed," says Ed, "but they are no less exhilarating."

Ed and Diane Lane embarked on artistic adventures when they retired. Here's their advice on how to create a new life in a fresh setting.

EMBRACE CHANGE. Being newcomers in a community can be freeing. The people you meet won't have preset expectations.

Use background knowledge in your second career. "Our marketing skills have been valuable for sharing our artwork with the public," says Diane.

Be diligent. "We decided to be professional about our art," Ed says. "We dedicate hours every day to studio work and constantly keep our eyes open for new inspiration."

SEIZE YOUR OPPORTUNITY. The chance to start over is a rare gift. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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