Born in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, McLean received his art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied under Daniel Garber, Charles Garner and Joseph Pearson. Though he has not been the subject of scholarly attention, recent market activity indicates that he was active during the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and that he painted a variety of subjects. Like Garber, his favorite motif seems to have been the landscape surrounding his home. His views of Blowing Rock and Smoky Hollow, composed with distinctive foreground trees, are particularly attractive. Like other artists of his generation, McLean vacillated between impressionism and more avant-garde methods, and though he continued to paint in an impressionist style throughout his career, he experimented with a variety of others, including cubism, often settling into techniques of decorative patterning while still maintaining a strong sense of realism.
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