Michaels was born and raised in Illinois. With the folk scene booming in the sixties, Michaels paid his way through college teaching guitar and performing in coffeehouses. After graduating with a B.F.A. in art, his wanderlust got the best of him, so he grabbed his guitar and took off across North America. As the folk scene ebbed in the seventies, Michaels decided to pursue a new musical venue. He began studying classical guitar at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 1983, on a music tour through the southwest, he and his wife passed through Santa Fe and decided to stay.
The size and strength of the Santa Fe art community surprised Michaels, and within a year he decided to give up his music performances to concentrate on his art.
Michaels still loves to travel. His art has taken him to exotic destinations in Africa, Europe, Central America and Indonesia. He also loves to paint the rich culture and landscapes of the region in Colorado.
His paintings hang in private, corporate, museum and state collections; including the Albuquerque Museum of Fine Art, the Americana Museum, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Phillips Petroleum, IBM, Honeywell-Sperry Inc., and the State Collection of the Governor's Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. Michaels is a signature member of the Oil Painters of America, National Watercolor Society and the Pastel Society of America.