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Coos Bay maritime artist inspired by past service in Coast Guard

Don McMichael is a Coos Bay artist, famous for his paintings that capture the sea and its creatures.

COOS BAY, Ore. - Don McMichael is a Coos Bay artist, famous for his paintings that capture the sea and its creatures.

He draws his inspiration from his early days with the Coast Guard.

A retired Coast Guard search and rescue man turned artist, he says he began painting after his Coast Guard days in 1977.

"I started what I call driftwood scrimshaw, which is pen and ink on clear white pieces of driftwood, McMichael said.

His inspiration stems from his time in the Coast Guard.

"Search and rescue boats off shore, we would encounter different whales at times," he said. "I always admired the old whaling days and the ships and how they were built."

Locally, he's designed posters for the Oregon Coast Music Festival, but he says his art has taken him all over the West Coast.

"I've been to Baja, California with marine biologist to see the gray whales, the San Juan islands with marine biologists looking at the Orcas, tag sperm whales in the gulf of mexico, go up to Barrow, Alaska, out with the Iñupiat people on a bowhead whale hunt."

His 1986 painting "Boogie by the Seal Rock" was shown on the TODAY show and displayed in the White House.

He's semi-retired now, but not entirely done making waves in Coos Bay.

The Coos Art Museum has three of his painting featured in their Maritime Art Exhibit that runs through September 29.

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