Dirty car art: kananga

All photos courtesy of Scott Wade

Eschewing regular car washing is more than a small, environmentally friendly act — it's also an artistic opportunity! As dirt accumulates on the windshield, it's hard to resist sliding a finger along the glass and doodling a smiley face.

San Antonio-based artist Scott Wade takes this simple pleasure to the next level with his exquisite collection of dusty windshield paintings.

Dirty car art: Cactus and desert

Having lived along a long, dirt road in Central Texas for more than 20 years, it was only natural for Wade to develop this artistic affinity, though he has only pursued it as a serious art form since 2003.

Over the years, Wade has come up with ways to streamline and enhance his process, which he details in the video below:

The subject matter of his pieces usually gravitate towards celebrity portraits, landscapes, pop culture icons and reproductions of old masterpieces (like his take on Grant Wood's "American Gothic" painting, below). He's been commissioned for commercial advertisements and special event installations.

Dirty car art: American Gothic
Despite spending so much time and effort to create these dust paintings, the ephemeral nature of each piece is one of his favorite aspects of his work.

"It helps me to not take it too seriously and to really have fun with it," Wade explains, "but most important, it reminds me that all of life is impermanent, that we won’t be here all that long, and to really enjoy the wonder and beauty while we’re here."

Dirty car art: Dragon

Continue below to see more of Scott Wade's work, and be sure to check out his website, DirtyCarArt.com!

Dirty car art: LOVE
Dirty car art: Flo
Dirty car art: Heron
Dirty car art: Mona Lisa and Starry Night
Dirty car art: HArry Potter stars
Dirty car art: Escher
Dirty car art: Mount Rushmore
Dirty car art: Roadrunner and coyote
Dirty car art: Poker dogs
Dirty car art: Seattle
Dirty car art: Neushwanstein
Dirty car art: Wildflowers
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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.