PALM HARBOR — Lynn and Steve Cebula of Palm Harbor stand in their garage, a home workshop bearing witness to the clutter of artists at work. The couple are all about wood, color and trying to create pieces no one else has made. Even the name of their business, Twisted Dimensions Art, has the ring of something a little offbeat.
"We try to work outside the box," said Lynn. "We didn't want to create scenes and objects so many people already have done."
Instead, with the help of electric jigsaws, sanders, drills, piles of wood and paints, the artists let their imaginations take over. The end results include whimsical and colorful mirrors, clocks, musical instruments and wall sconces that challenge the viewer to look at an object differently.
A recently completed piece called Jam Session now hangs in the office of the couple's home. The 46-inch by 23-inch multidimensional work features a piano keyboard looping its way across curved neon red, black, and white segments of wood. Shiny black musical notes seem to dance across the keys.
Jam Session, like much of their other artwork, is made of hand-shaped pieces of wood later painted in acrylic.
On another wall hangs a clock, 26 inches by 19 inches, in shiny earth tones. The largest arc of wood is painted with swirls of copper, orange, gold and chocolate brown. The face of the clock holds only four discs to indicate time; thus, it can be hung either horizontally or vertically.
Natives of New Jersey, the couple moved to Palm Harbor in 1996. In 1998, Lynn, 53, took art seriously for the first time, although she had dabbled in art most of her life.
"In 1998 I stopped smoking," she said, "and I wanted something to do with my hands.'
Inspired by her father, whose hobby had been woodworking, Lynn turned to wood for her medium. She also had a new home to decorate.
"I didn't like what we had on our walls, so I started working with wood to make my own decorations," she said.
From the beginning, Lynn has created from her mind's eye rather than from a sketch. "I design as I go along," she said.
Steve, 55, handles the finances and scheduling for their sales and exhibits, and he also taught his wife to use tools, enabling her to turn out more professional, polished pieces.
"The way we work now is so much cleaner, smoother and more refined," he said. "We countersink the backs, put putty in the holes and seal the backs with paint."
Now retired, Steve works full time on the art, doing much of the sanding and cutting and leaving the painting to his wife. Lynn, a bus driver for Pinellas County schools, gets out her jigsaw and paints at night and on weekends.
"We work on weekends when there are no shows," she said. "Sometimes we are out here at 11 at night, even though I have to get up at 4:30 every morning."
The shows present their own challenges.
In an RV, towing their truck stuffed with boxes of artwork, the couple travel to 30 or more shows a year. From October through May they set up shop at art festivals across Florida, and from June through August they drive cross-country to exhibit their wares in Chicago and other Midwestern cities.
It is exhausting to pack, travel and set up shop at shows, Steve said, and the results are often disappointing.
"Art shows are not as lucrative as they used to be," he said, "and the expense of exhibiting has gone up as well."
Still, the shows remain the couple's chief source of sales, and the source of many commissions for customized pieces. They also sell by word of mouth and from their website ( www.twisteddimensionsart.com). Prices vary by size and intricacy.
The colorful clocks range from $320 to $380 and the large abstract works run about $2,200. Small pieces, such as a spiraling candle holder, begin at about $40.
The two are looking ahead artistically. Steve wants to expand the musical instrument category. He and his wife have had requests to create drum, banjo and saxophone artworks, and they hope to add those instruments to their popular guitars.
The new creations will take time.
"We have to have a vision before we make an instrument," said Lynn.
In spite of difficult economic times, they remain committed to their art.
"Our minds are always going," Lynn said. "It's just a matter of having enough time."
Correspondent Elaine Markowitz can be reached at [email protected]