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 spent many years developing his unique style of art. 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 the 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.
A number of his originals are being exhibited throughout the United States, including: the Frye Museum in Seattle, WA, the Cummer Museum in Jacksonville, FL, the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, DE; the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT and at the Coos Art Museum. He is a Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA) and has exhibited in their National Shows in the last few years. A large demand has developed for his paintings in Japan, Hawaii and the eastern seaboard. For seventeen years he has been the contributing artist for the Oregon Coast Music Festival image and also has captivated the imagination of many with his designs for the Friends of Shore Acres Christmas light show. In 2007 he received the Marine Environmental Wildlife Award in the International Marine Art Exhibition, at the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport and in 2008 and 2010 the Award of Excellence.
In June of 2011 he received notice that he was among the selected artists to participate in the American Society of Marine Artists 15th annual National Exhibition which travelled to eight prominent museums across the United States. In July 2014, he was invited to join a team of scientists from Oregon State University Marine Mammal Science Center, for a two week period, to tag sperm whales and study the feeding habits of squid in the Gulf of Mexico. He is honored to be selected to be the featured artist at the Coos Art Museum’s Maritime Art Exhibit.
Don has been painting maritime images for the last 20 years. He strives to be anatomically correct with the species of whales and also historically correct, but still has a lot of fun with some fantasy images such as his “Whale Huggers”. He is having a great time, and at the same time, hopes that his paintings might bring some awareness of the delicate balance between the great cetaceans and the oceans we all share.