Having received training as a printer at an early age as part of his family's business, Fletcher Martin took his education in printing and publishing to win a scholarship to the Stickney Memorial School of Art in Pasadena, California. In 1932, Martin met Mexican muralist painter, David Alfaro Siqueiros, who provided the burgeoning artist with a breadth of new ideals and inspiration about the capability and powerful realization of painting. "Martin's philosophy of art changed dramatically as a result of his friendship with Siqueiros. Ideas were now the life-giving force to Martin's paintings. He rejected the classical ideas which had been so important to his art and instead turned to personal experiences drawn from his own rich and varied youth. From this time on, all of Martin's art would be colored by his personal conceptual process." (J. Stern, American Scene Painting: California, 1930s and 1940s, R. Westphal and J.B. Dominik, eds., Irvine, California, 1991, p. 109)
"Martin had a long and worthwhile relationship with the Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project during the late 1930s. In 1936 he painted murals (now destroyed) at North Hollywood High School and the following year painted murals for the Federal Building in San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles." These large-scale commissions naturally contributed to Fletcher's bold draftsmanship and graphic style and ability to depict emotionally-charged and action-filled narratives on his canvases, as evident in The Attack on the Wagon Train.