Don McMichael Bio

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Before retiring from the United States Coast Guard in 1977, Don made his living saving lives in the most difficult and dangerous conditions that the Pacific Ocean has to offer. As Officer in Charge of search and rescue stations along the Oregon Coast, where unpredictable weather often creates some of the roughest seas in the world, he developed a great respect and admiration for the sea.

When McMichael retired, he had growing concerns about the pollution of the oceans and the plight of the whales. "When I was young, the oceans were clean and abundant with life. Today our sea life has decreased and our oceans are endangered". McMichael's goal is to communicate, through his underwater world of marine wildlife, a compassionate concern for the sea and man's interaction among the earth's precious marine mammals. Don has spent many years perfecting his art. He is able to achieve such detailed realism in his work by researching and viewing his subject in the ocean's depths. When he dives into the ocean, it is to be among the gray whales in California and Oregon or with the humpbacks during the winter months in Hawaii. What he sees there swims to life on canvas in his studio that overlooks the waters of Coos Bay, Oregon.

In 1988, Don was privileged to join the Inupiat Eskimos of Barrow, Alaska on their annual bowhead whale hunt. He was invited as a guest of Mayor George Ahmogak and was able to study the whales in their own environment. Traveling five miles out on the Arctic Ocean, standing at the edge of an ice lead, he stated that "being there, seeing the Arctic, the whales and the hunters all in one scene together, has only intensified my viewpoint on how complete and timeless this land and its people really are".

Don has a great love for the whales and advocates that they should be protected by law, but he also sympathizes with the Eskimos because their heritage is also so fragile and should be preserved.

Don has exhibited his art throughout the United States and abroad, and has received awards from such notable exhibitions as the Audubon Society and Mystic Seaport during their annual international shows. The International Whaling Commission accepted one of his limited edition prints, "Whaling Moratorium", in commemoration of the ban on commercial whaling. The White House purchased his Oregon Coast Music Festival Poster, "Boogie at Seal Rock" after it appeared on national television on the "Today" show. He is also an artist member of the prestigious American Society of Marine Artists, artist member of the United States Coast Guard Artist's Group, avid supporter of the Cousteau Society, Center for Whale Studies and numerous other marine conservation organizations. 

Many of his days are spent each year in the classroom, where he shares with elementary school age children his knowledge and experiences with the majestic whales. "If nothing else, I hope my paintings publicize the need to save our marine mammals, our seas, and ultimately our children's future." 

Don McMichael, All Smiles


Don McMichael, Full Light


Don McMichael, Whaling Moratorium


Don McMichael, Distant Callings


Don McMichael, Sunrise Celebration


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