In a post on the Oil Painters of America blog, Texas artist Rusty Jones discussed plein air safety, and his ideas seemed so sound, PleinAir Today reached out to him to hear more. Here are some tips from plein air veteran.

Lead Image: A Rusty Jones painting done at Big Bend National Park in West Texas

Jones’s strongest message is to consider getting Spot. This is a device — there’s also an associated app — that connects someone with satellite technology, independent of cellular service. This is handy when an artist is off the grid, and we all know that some of the best painting locations are decidedly off the grid. Many painters are hearty outdoor folks, but many are not. Wouldn’t it be great if one could wear a device so that, if something goes terribly wrong, help is just a few button pushes away?

Jones says he likes to paint in places like Big Bend National Park, which is nestled in that western dip of the southern border of Texas, and in Palo Duro Canyon. “The minute you cross through the gate, there is no cell service,” says Jones. “But there are mountain lions, black bears, and wild boars. Spot provides you with a panic button you push so that the rescue services are immediately notified.” Jones keeps his Spot device attached to the outside of his backpack. The device also notifies his wife if there’s a problem.

Rusty Jones
Rusty Jones

Some of the other suggestions Jones makes in the blog: Paint in a group, tell other people about your plans, wear bright and easily visible clothing, and be prepared, should you become lost. It’s best just to read the entire post, but here’s one more tip that Jones emphasized in our phone conversation: Lay off social media.

“The worst thing that we do is post a selfie picture on Facebook when we’re in France, announcing to the world that we will be gone for the next two weeks,” he says. “I don’t post anything about it until I get home these days.” He is worried about burglary or other unsavory crimes that may be committed while you’re away. This was the first item on Jones’s list. It may be the first one you’ll break.


  1. If you have a select group of family, close friends and collectors that you’d like to keep in touch with while you travel, you can set up a special list in Facebook and post updates just to that list. I call mine “travel notify” so I don’t accidentally post publicly and reveal my whereabouts. I find that those on the “private” list really enjoy seeing what I paint on location. Give it a try.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here