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How to Paint with Cars: Easy Action Art for Kids

by Rachel Withers
June 14, 2023
paint with cars featured image

Grab your favorite toy car, truck, plane or train to paint with cars. Watch the vehicle make fun paint tracks on paper.

Updated May 2023

Painting with toy vehicles is a classic action art activity for kids of all ages. Here at The Artful Parent, Jean started blogging about it years back with her toddler art groups and it’s still going strong as we bring you a fully updated version for the blog.

As kids roll a vehicle in paint and then again onto paper/cardboard to print the tracks, they gain a valuable experience through this experimentation.

Painting with a car (instead of a brush) begins to prompt the question of “what else can we paint with?”

painting with toy truck
Photo by Andrea Martelle

This encourages an environment for the child to think creatively about their art and by extension their world.

If you haven’t tried this yet, it’s the perfect project for young toddlers who may be especially interested in trains, trucks, cars, and the like!

The setup is easy and did we mention, it’s fun – even for adults!

paint with wheels pin
Photo by Andrea Martelle

How to Paint with Cars



  1. Collect wheeled vehicles

    First, gather anything with wheels. If you don’t have many toy vehicles on hand, brayers or foam painting rollers work great too!

  2. Prepare the rolling surface

    This project can be set up inside or outside! At our recent toddler art group, I laid out two painted drop cloths and placed cardboard on top.

    I got a little carried away and created wood ramps, cardboard parking garages and tunnels with items from our recycling bin.

    If you decide to work indoors, you may wish to tape kraft or white butcher paper to a kid-sized table or roll a big piece of a paper out on the floor.

  3. Start painting with wheels!

    Gather paper plates, cake pans, trays, pizza pans and baking sheets to add paint onto. Remember to include a few larger paint trays to accommodate any bigger diggers or trucks that kids always seem to enjoy.

    Squirt paint all over the trays and continue to refresh them as needed.

    painting with cars

  4. Time to roll!

    Now comes the fun part, when it’s time to set the kids loose! Painting with wheels is an easy art activity to try with your own child, with a few friends, or at an art group.

    And it works well for a wide age range making it a fun art activity to try with siblings as well.

    painting with cars on paper

As you can see, there are many possibilities!

Painting with wheels cardboard and drop cloth set up
Photo by Rachel Withers

There’s something rather mesmerizing and unpredictable as you watch the magic happen. We encourage you to give it a try!

And here’s a fun extension of this project–add shaving cream marbling to the mix like Colors Are Magic did with their version of car painting.

painting with wheels
Photo by Rachel Withers

More Action Art Ideas for Kids

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How to Paint with Cars: Easy Action Art for Kids How to Paint with Cars: Easy Action Art for Kids

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