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. Recently he was awarded the designation of a Coast Guard Surfsman, the highest qualification a boat operator can achieve in the U.S. Coast Guard. As a surfman he was qualified to operate a boat in 20′ breaking waves, 30′ seas and 50 knot winds.
Don is a studio painter relying on his many personal experiences viewing marine animals in their own environment. Trips to Barrow, AK to view the great bowheads with an Unupiat whaling team; tagging sperm whales with the Oregon State University Marine Science team in the gulf of Louisiana; joining marine scientists in Hawaii to study the migration of humpbacks and viewing the feed stranding of bottlenose dolphins in the bayou’s of South Carolina. He has accumulated a large reference library containing books, photographs and a collection of maritime tools and sea stories which he
He has received numerous awards; Award of Excellence at two different International Marine Art Exhibitions at the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport Museum; People’s Choice Award, Los Angeles Audubon; Award of Excellence, Alaskan Audubon Show and for twenty years has created the annual poster for the Oregon Coast Music Festival.
Don has been painting for the past 40 years. He has exhibited throughout the United States and his work has been shown internationally. He hopes that his paintings might bring some awareness to the delicate balance between the great cetaceans and the oceans we all share.