Steve Boster painting on location

by Bob Bahr

Painter Steve Boster is lucky. He’s had a successful career in medicine and is comfortably retired, so he doesn’t need art sales to pay the bills. In fact, he’s ready to give back to the world. So Boster donates all the proceeds from his artwork to his favorite charities. That totaled $33,000 last year alone.

More than 2/3 of that sum went to the Fisher House Foundation. That charity combined two things Boster cares deeply about: healthcare, and taking care of our military personnel. “I got interested in this group because my brother in law was in the army for 35 years and retired a three-star general,” says Boster. “I asked him what he thought the best military charity was because I had never done anything, service-wise. He recommended the Fisher House Foundation, a highly acclaimed charity that provides room and board for veterans and the loved ones of active duty personnel who are hospitalized in military hospitals. There are four Fisher Houses in San Antonio. They all have multiple bedrooms and washing machines and dining facility, and they’re in nice neighborhoods.”

Boster painting on his ranch outside of Ingram, TX

The Fisher House Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides more than $81 million in room and board to this particular population across the country. “They do other things, such as scholarships, but the thrust of the program is housing and meals,” says Boster. “I have enough money to live on, and I don’t have really expensive taste. I feel real good about donating because I didn’t serve in the military. I do get a lot of credit for it, but I just want to be a better painter, and having things hanging in people’s homes is enough for me.”

Boster insists that collectors pay using a check made out to Fisher House Foundation so that he does not handle any money. He considers his art materials, frames, and the rest of his $12,000 in overhead a donation to Fisher House. But not everyone can afford to give away all the money they make off their sales. Boster says he can imagine other options. “I think that they could donate the proceeds for a single painting– maybe one painting a year–to Fisher House Foundation. Or organize a group show with all the proceeds going to Fisher House and donate one of your paintings for the show. Or donate to an auction for a charity. Or donate 10% of all your sales. But you should contact the charity and talk to someone who can process the money to figure out the best way. Ask them how to do it—they have to be really sensitive to regulations. In some instances, you can’t advertise online if it’s a donation. But if you don’t take a cut for your own business, then the restrictions are less.”

“Longhorn Bull and Cow,” by Steve Boster, acrylic, 24 x 30 in.

Boster says that his local collectors know that he donates all sales to charity, and they appreciate it. Joel Parkman collects art, and he says that it wouldn’t make a difference one way or another if an artist were donating to charity. But in his case, the donation wouldn’t make as much sense, because his motivation in buying art is a little bit different. “One of the reasons I buy the art I do is to support the artist,” says Parkman. “I buy art from artists who I want to support. I find that collecting is helpful in that way.”

Boster says that while many appreciate his gesture in “helping American heroes,” others are more tepid. “People sometimes complain about the price, but I don’t care,” says the artist. “They can buy it or not. It makes for a pretty pure artform, doing it this way.”

“Nevada Deer Hunt, Area 131, by Steve Boster, acrylic, 30 x 40 in.

Again, not everyone can swing what Boster is doing, but they should know that this was his plan all along. “From the minute I decided I was going to be an artist full-time, I decided this was what I was going to do,” says Boster. “I’ve always painted, maybe one painting a year on vacation. Museums are my favorite vacation. Then a close friend of mine who is an art teacher talked me into painting more. She gave me the confidence that I could paint and really encouraged me.”

“I Am Too Young to Smoke,” by Steve Boster, acrylic, 14 x 11 in.

“Susan Peak Road,” by Steve Boster, oil, 4 x 7 in.

He’s only been at it full-time since 2015. After 37 years, he walked away from his life as a doctor (although he seems to get a fair share of cell phone calls from people asking for medical advice). He still cares about people’s health, particularly that of veterans. He deflects attention to his brother-in-law, however. “He was aware of what a financial burden it was on the families,” says Boster. “The economics of our healthcare system is frustrating. I don’t think they are doing enough for our military personnel. On the healthcare end of it, I think they can do better. I do think they are trying.”

So is Boster, with every brushstroke and with every painting sold. Ω

“Dream Bull, by Steve Boster, acrylic, 40 x 30 in.