hoped to be a full time professional bagpiper and I had the opportunity to do it. My brothers and I attended summer Great Highland Bagpipe camps to get instruction from the world’s leading pipers. Instruction was also available for dances, drummers, and drum majors. It was a time where dancers, drummers and pipers had the opportunity to receive instruction from the likes of John L. MacKenzie (dancing), Alex Duthard (drumming), Jim Kilpatrick (durmming), Pipe Major John MacKenzie (piping), Seamus McNeil (piping), John MacFadyn (piping), and Capt. John MacLellan (piping). All of them world class authorities in their field.
I turned 21 while attending a Scottish Performing Arts school. I was preparing to leave that year when Capt. John MacLellan sought me out for a private discussion. A little way into the conversation he said. “The main difference between you and I is that I do this full time.” I was stunned. Apparently, he saw potential in me. And then he asked “How would you like to do this full time?” A bolt of exhilaration shot through me at the thought of a career devoted to improving my piping to a higher level and being asked by one of the legendary pipers of our time. “But,” he continued, “there is a catch.” My euphoria abruptly halted. I apprehensively held my breath waiting for the terms. And then they came “You will need to join the British military.” My mind raced with arguments for and against this offer with what seemed to be an interminable amount of time. But, alas, I felt joining the British military over my own was somehow unpatriotic and I declined the offer. I often wonder what my life be if I had accepted it.
nimation is another one of my passions. With my dream of a profession bagpiper crushed I turned my attentions to a vocation as an animation artist. I cartooned for as long as I remember. I did comic strips, advertisements, newsletters, college paper, caricatures for retirements and parties. I even tried a getting my “Daily Doodle” comic strip syndicated. I am particularly fascinated and enjoy cartoon animation. I still watch parts of them one frame at a time.
Both of my folks grew up in a very difficult financial situations. My Dad would recount stories of walking along the railroad tracks to gather coal that had fallen off the train carts. My Mom was particularly upset at the prospect of me becoming an artist which would only lead me to be a starving artist in her mind. So, at the beckoning of both parents, I went to college to get a technical degree and decided on a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Through High School and college my youngest brother and I worked on a 16mm animation featuring “Gooney Gander”, a character I created. He still reminds me that while I was the animator, he was the ink and paint department. For my Mechanical Engineering project I made an animation stand using parts from an industrial drill press, mill and machine ways. I had a zoom lens and created an electromechanical interface so I could input the frames and have the armature move the desired amount per frame to complete the zoom in the allotted time. It could do practically everything as a professional animation stand.
I wrote Eric Larson at Disney Studios expressing an interest to visit and discuss an animation career and he invited to Burbank, CA. There I also met Ollie Johnston and they both graciously viewed the animated movie I created. It was interesting to have them ask me how I accomplished a certain visual effect. But what impressed them most was the animation stand I made. Eric gave me a business card and prompted me to apply for an audio-animatronic position at W.E.D., the Disney division that creates the amusement part attractions. I missed this opportunity by not following up on it. I had some misgivings living in an earthquake stricken area about to slide into the ocean.
I had planned that engineering be a backup plan and not my main vocation. I did get to to do a couple of interesting things. One, I was the first person in Ford Motor Company to use 3D animation in a production environment. And two, I directed a small presentation movie for upper management that had a couple minute animation in it. The producer contacted me a couple years later to inform me that that section of animation more than paid for itself because it had been used is many other productions.
I am told that I am very good engineer, but I never enjoyed it. However, I went through some extremely difficult experiences and was a single parent for many years. It was all I could do to get up, work, take care of a house, chores,and interact with my child. At least I was earning a good salary as an engineering. I can imagine how difficult it is for moms that did it on less income. I also know:
The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
I am blessed that I now have an opportunity to use some time in a creative fashion. And this page contains artwork, pictures of artwork, or other creative projects I have done or am working on. I hope you enjoy it.