Raised in Stockton, California, McIntosh had an interest in visual arts and attended the Art Center School in Los Angeles in 1938. He went on to study with ceramist Glen Lukens at the University of Southern California in 1940, Richard Petterson at the Claremont Graduate School from 1948 to 1952, and Bernard Leach at a Mills College seminar in 1950. Working with Marguerite Wildenhain during the summer of 1953, he gained his first exposure to the Bauhaus aesthetic and incorporated it into his developing style. Even after teaching with Peter Voulkos, McIntosh chose to build on his foundation in modern design rather than pursue the expressionist approach to clay that became popular in the 1960s. He quietly charted his own course in his Claremont, California, studio with his studio mate of fifty years, Rupert Deese (see Deese’s 1998 Hemisphere Drum Bowl), producing an internationally admired body of work that exemplifies a classical vein of the postwar crafts movement.