We’ve all seen cars that are so covered in dirt and dust that you can’t even tell what color they are. Maybe you’ve wrinkled your nose at the sight, or even given into temptation and etched the classic “Wash Me” in the dust.
Then there’s Scott Wade. Working as a commercial artist by trade, Wade, too, was tempted to draw some lines in the dust of unwashed cars, but he took it to the next level.
Using dust and a variety of brushes, Wade creates rich, detailed scenes on car windows.
Wade draws inspiration from many different places. This piece is based on a photograph a friend took after a devastating flood.
Many of his pieces are commissioned for events and organizations, like this one for the San Marcos Public Library.
This re-creation of Hokusai’s famous woodblock print was created for a Japanese TV show.
This piece presented some challenges, as the dust kept falling off the glass. Wade, however, simply allowed it to happen, and the result is an interesting texture in the background.
So why dust on cars and not paint on canvas? For Wade, it’s about shifting people’s perceptions
“When we see a dirty car, we think ‘Oh, God, that’s ugly,'” Wade says, “[but] when you can turn that into beauty, then it challenges our perceptions of what’s beautiful [and] what’s not.”
There’s also a practical aspect: cars move from place to place, and thus so does Wade’s art. “It’s a mobile art gallery!” he says.
This piece was commissioned by Progressive’s Flo herself.
Many of his pieces are inspired by natural beauty, especially that of his native Texas.
Other pieces take their inspiration from famous works of art, like this Renoir painting.
Like a painter, Wade uses a variety of different brushes to achieve different techniques on the glass. The dust is typically blown onto the windows to provide a surface, and then the design is created by brushing it away. Most of these techniques came about simply by experimentation, dating back to Wade’s childhood days of doodling funny faces onto dirty cars with his fingers.
Naturally, this art is, for the most part, impermanent. A heavy rain or a car wash sees to that. But that’s okay with Wade, for whom the process of creating and the next project are more exciting than what’s already been made. There’s also a philosophical side to it. “Dirty Car Art teaches me not to hold on to the past, and I need that lesson to keep me from dwelling in despair,” he says.
Some of his pieces, like this one, are permanent. This was created for the Texas Breastfeeding Coalition.
He also likes to create personalized pieces for friends, like this birthday “card.”
Watch Wade talk about his art and his adventures with it in this behind-the-scenes video.
So the next time you see a car covered in dust and grime, think of it less as an eyesore and more as an artistic opportunity. You might want to seek permission before breaking out the brushes, though.
You can see much more of Wade’s “Dirty Car Art,” as he calls it, on his website and Facebook page.