Before retiring from the United States Coast Guard, Don made his living saving lives in the most difficult and dangerous conditions that the Pacific Ocean had to offer. In charge of search and rescue stations along the Oregon coast, where dramatic weather often creates some of the roughest seas in the world, McMichael has both deep respect and admiration for the ocean.
Don has been painting maritime images for the last 30 years. He is able to achieve this style by researching and viewing his subjects in their own environment, then blending his subjects in a perspective that most people never see, as in his “above and below” views. His journeys have taken him south to Baja to study the gray whales and as far north as Barrow, AK to view the great bowheads. He also had the privilege of joining marine biologists in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands to dive with the humpbacks. He strives to be anatomically and historically correct with the species of whales, but still has a lot of fun with some fantasy images such as his “Whale Huggers.” He’s having a great time, and at the same time hopes that his paintings might bring some awareness to the delicate balance between the great cetaceans and the oceans we all share.
A number of his originals are being exhibited throughout the United States and have been juried and accepted through the International judging process. As a Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists, he most recently exhibited in their 14th National Exhibition which included showings in Wilmington, DE; St. Michaels, MD; Atlantic City, NY: Spartanburg, SC; New Bedford, MA. In the last few years his paintings have been in demand in Japan, Hawaii and along the east coast, including the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport since 2002 and where he won an Award of Excellence in the 2008 International Marine Art Exhibition. For 17 years, Don has been the contributing artist for the Oregon Coast Music Festival and also he has captivated the imagination of many with his designs for the Friends of Shore Acres Christmas Light Show.