ARTS & CULTURE
03/16/2012 05:06 pm ET

Allison Cortson, Artist, Creates Portraits Using Dust (PHOTOS)

Those with spare dust collecting in their vacuums can just give it to Allison Cortson.

The Los Angeles-based artist collects dust from the homes of her subjects and incorporates the particles into the background of their portraits.

The subdued shades provide contrast to the vibrant colors of her illustrations in an effort to emphasize that matter is empty space that only has value through its interaction with the living.

After Cortson finishes an oil painting, she sprinkles dust into the background of the portrait and maneuvers the pieces with a brush. Finally, she coats the work with an acrylic sealer.

With both a love for science and art, Cortson says she was first inspired with the idea during a physics class in which she examined how atoms make the transition from invisibility to physical particles.

"I wanted to make a model for this concept with my artwork and decided to craft people in their environments out of an ephemeral material, dust," Cortson told The Huffington Post in an email.

While Cortson admits she's usually well acquainted with her subjects, sometimes she approaches complete strangers.

And for those allergic to dust, worry not: "I haven't had anyone have any allergies from the works because of the sealer," Cortson said.

Interested in bizarre art? Be sure to watch Fabian Gaete Maureira's unusual landscape finger paintings video or take a look at Bert Myers animal X-ray images.

Check out artist Allison Cortson's 'Dust Paintings' series in the slideshow below:

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