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Painting by Numbers

· By Capn Rick · Published 2023-09-18T03:56:05.625Z

Meta Prompt
The meta answer is a famous work of art.
Hint 1: Did you notice that the grid is rectangular in shape - kinda like a painting?
Hint 2: Did you also notice the superfluous wording of some of the clues - particularly the ones containing "numbers"?
Hint 3: What about those numbers? What could they be indicating about the painting in the grid?
Hint 4: Using your finest artist brush (or Avery Hi-Liter), lightly color in the grid entries that correspond to those numbers. Then take a step back, and admire your work!
Hint 5: 49-Down49DMaterial used for framing most paintings[----] is more than just framing material. It's also the artist's last name.
Here is a link to the solution on the XWord Muggles Forum:
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Leaderboard (updated hourly)

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  • Berto 🤓2:31 · 2023-09-18T06:41:58.043Z
    I thought it was going to literally be a paint by numbers similar to Ben’s Holding out for a Hero, and looked like 3 crosses (Rembrandt?) - but then I read the words lol !! Fun one, thanks!
    • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T12:38:12.887Z
      Thanks for solving, Berto. Glad you enjoyed it!
    • SamKat9 🤓8:21 · 2023-09-18T07:28:50.072Z
      Very cool puzzle, thank you!
      • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T12:38:28.294Z
        Thank you, SamKat9.
      • Cindy Heisler 2s · 2023-09-18T11:47:52.476Z
        Solved, but not sure I used the intended metanism. I just recognized grid words that went with the painting. Thanks!
        • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T12:42:24.652Z
          That's pretty good, Cinny, if you were able to reproduce the famous work without the numbers. If you look again, the grid entries referenced by the numbers are in the same relative positions as the figures in Grant Wood's painting. Did you know the woman was his sister?
          • Cindy Heisler 2s · 2023-09-18T15:47:19.570Z
            I had highlighted the words, but I still don't understand the number part. Yes, I did know it was his sister. I especially liked the gable at the top!
            • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T19:02:43.297Z
              Okay, here's an example of how it works. The clue for UNO59AFamily game with 24 "Action cards"[---] at 59A59AFamily game with 24 "Action cards"[---] is "Family game with 24 "Action cards". The "24" indicates that the grid entry at the 24 square (i.e. 24D24DExpert in the field, literally[------] - FARMER24DExpert in the field, literally[------]) is part of the "painting" that solvers will complete after they've found all the "numbers". I was very careful to only have 9 "numbers" (integers) appear in the clue wording, and each of these numbers corresponds with an element of the painting.
              • Katiedid 🤓3:54 · 2023-09-18T19:31:50.373Z
                My solve was similar to Cindy's. I just noticed all the words in the grid that went with the painting. When I looked at the numbers in the clues, I only marked the first letter instead of the whole word, so I missed the whole painting by number until reading these comments. Cool puzzle. The gable is a nice touch!
              • woozy 🤓24:04 · 2023-09-18T20:22:28.006Z
                " Did you know the woman was his sister?"
                Ah, but did you know the farmer was his dentist?
            • Meg 5s · 2023-09-18T13:23:28.793Z
              Reading the comments cleared up my confusion, except for RAIL27ABanister[----]. Did I miss something in the painting? Nice symmetry, as usual!
              • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T13:49:21.124Z
                Thanks, Meg. Yes, from the left side of the painting I needed a 4-letter entry (with "I" in the 3rd position) to balance BARN31ARural structure[----] on the right. Since there's a porch there I went with RAIL27ABanister[----]. It's a little weak, but hopefully the other elements were strong enough to pull it off. Did you notice G-A-B-L-E in the upper middle in a gable shape?
                • SamKat9 🤓8:21 · 2023-09-18T15:51:46.681Z
                  I didn't notice the gable roof before, that's a really nice touch! I noticed "pitchfork" in the center and that's what made me think of the painting, then I pulled up an image of it and was able to place some of the other words in the painting, too. I also wasn't sure about rail, so thank you for that explanation.
                  • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T16:38:27.820Z
                    You're welcome, SamKat9.
                  • woozy 🤓24:04 · 2023-09-18T16:08:26.195Z
                    But SKY1ACloud's place[---]/STA1DAmtrak stop: Abbr.[---] (1A1ACloud's place[---] and 1D1DAmtrak stop: Abbr.[---] for Dan MacLeans #1 hit) don't have symmetry. Was that unintentional?
                    • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T16:37:50.345Z
                      Yes, the "1" from Don McLean's #1 hit is a slight deviation that shouldn't adversely affect the solve - particularly once folks find the other 8 elements of the painting. Symmetry is partially achieved via the cross of "American ___" with that giant of "Gothic" literature - POE9DHe was 22 when his poem "To Helen" was first published[---].
                    • Bird Lives 4s · 2023-09-20T22:05:58.324Z
                      Someone a while back (IIRC) did a puzzle with seven of them. Was it you?
                • MatthewL 🤓4:15 · 2023-09-18T13:56:04.645Z
                  Well, I got the answer, but it was based solely off 49D49DMaterial used for framing most paintings[----]. Now to go back and see what I was really supposed to do. Thanks for the puzzle, Rick!
                  • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T15:14:26.453Z
                    That's pretty impressive if you knew the artist, Matthew. (I didn't. 😄)
                  • Philip Chow 🤓8:36 · 2023-09-18T15:11:10.533Z
                    This was fun - kudos to another work of art!
                    • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T16:28:28.628Z
                      Thank you, Philip. Glad you enjoyed it!
                    • woozy 🤓24:04 · 2023-09-18T16:09:08.391Z
                      Geez. I looked ant the numbers/single letters but never thought to look at the words. Sheesh!
                      • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T16:29:22.756Z
                        That's the trickery that made this one a Level 3, woozy. Thanks for solving!
                      • markhr 🤓9:01 · 2023-09-18T16:58:50.787Z
                        Very clever. Was kind of lost until I noticed PITCH29DSales spiel[-----] FORK51DBranch in the road[----] down the middle, and that 29 and 51 had been called out. Then it was fun locating the remaining elements. Nice puzzle to ease into the week.
                        • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T17:50:45.490Z
                          Thank you, markhr. Yes, PITCH29DSales spiel[-----] FORK51DBranch in the road[----] in the center will probably be the first element that solvers will notice. With its angled shape, GABLE doesn't have a specific call-out and will probably be the last.
                        • JHSeeman 10s · 2023-09-18T17:48:57.925Z
                          Wow....your ability to hide both clues and easter eggs is insanely good. I got the number scheme early....but then also saw the Gable...which kinda distracted me to the house of seven gables...but there was not pitch fork in that one.
                          • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T18:46:40.292Z
                            Thank you, John. I actually made a House of Seven Gables meta a while ago. That's where I got the idea for this "Gothic" work. :)
                          • Eric Porter 6:12 · 2023-09-18T18:39:17.268Z
                            My first thought was that it must have something to do with the numbers in the clues which looked suspicious. Good thing I kept going.
                            • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T20:02:49.605Z
                              Yep, Eric. It's a "painting" by "numbers". Thanks for solving!
                            • imontoo 3s · 2023-09-18T19:24:56.131Z
                              Thank you, Cap’n!
                              • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T20:03:14.299Z
                                Thank you, imontoo!
                              • Pair O Ducks 🤓3:57 · 2023-09-18T19:20:51.233Z
                                My first thought was to try and play "connect-the-dots" from each of the nine answers to the corresponding number in the grid. Would have made for a cool mechanism, although it would rely very heavily on our ability to draw straight lines, which I have never been much good at (just ask my elementary school art teacher!). But once I realized I was using the wrong art technique, the answer took shape without too much trouble.
                                • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T20:07:57.475Z
                                  Hmm, I like that "connect-the-dots" idea, schmidzy! I'll have to give that some more thought. ;)
                                  • Bird Lives 4s · 2023-09-20T22:10:30.086Z
                                    I think there was a connect-the-dots WSJ meta some time ago. It was a very simple design. The five (?) dots were were Zs, and in connecting them, you drew a large Z, which stood, of course, for Zorro.
                                    • BarbaraK 3s · 2023-09-21T02:03:32.956Z
                                      Also a holiday puzzle where you connected the Os and got a Christmas Tree for the answer, a song, "O Christmas Tree"
                                • BethA 3s · 2023-09-18T20:35:39.070Z
                                  Well-crafted! Initially I just highlighted the single letter of the numbers that were mentioned in the clues. When they didn’t spell anything, I took a step back and saw the entire words. Nice AHA! Thx for the puzzle!
                                  I recall a long time back, the WSJ had the same painting as an answer, and I was surprised at how many people said that they weren’t familiar with it.
                                  • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T21:09:56.188Z
                                    Thank you, Beth. Yes, solvers definitely need to take a step back to see this one!
                                    I hadn't seen that WSJ puzzle, so I'll have to search for it. I assumed that most people were familiar with this famous painting, but we shall see!
                                    • BethA 3s · 2023-09-19T00:37:18.160Z
                                      I was mistaken about the answer but the puzzle I was thinking of was: Brush Strokes from Feb 24, 2017
                                      • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-19T02:24:05.353Z
                                        Thank you for that reference, Beth. It was a Mike Shenk (then going by "Marie Kelly") meta with the answer "Grant Wood". I was surprised to see that he used the grid entries from 6 fill-in-the-blank (FITB) clues to spell out "PAINTER OF AMERICAN GOTHIC". It's quite a coincidence since my last meta "Drawing a Blank" - a collaboration with Wendy Walker - also used FITBs, and here we are again with Grant WOOD49DMaterial used for framing most paintings[----] and "American Gothic".
                                  • michaelm 🤓2:57 · 2023-09-18T20:53:08.111Z
                                    You too are "pro"lific, Capn. "All IASK43D"All ___ of You" ("Phantom of the Opera" song)[----] Of You" is more great AHAs like this - Thanks for this work of meta art!
                                    • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T21:15:01.920Z
                                      Thank you, Michael. Glad you enjoyed it. You're due for another meta soon, right?
                                    • Laura M 🤓5:03 · 2023-09-18T21:03:22.215Z
                                      Good one! I didn't notice the GABLE before, that's a nice touch.
                                      • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T21:49:06.260Z
                                        Thanks, Laura. Glad you liked it!
                                      • kurtalert 🤓2:58 · 2023-09-18T21:52:22.396Z
                                        Very cool! I got lucky and my brain immediately went to American Gothic after I noticed PITCH29DSales spiel[-----] FORK51DBranch in the road[----] running right down the center. I'm a dope when it comes to art, but this is one of the few that I'm vaguely familiar with. Initially, I kept trying to make some connection between the numbers and the colors of the various things referenced in each of the clues & number pairs, but wasn't getting very far aside from a few things like SKY1ACloud's place[---] (blue) and BARN31ARural structure[----] (red, usually?) and maybe stretching the Area 51 one to green (little green men?).
                                        • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T22:15:37.960Z
                                          Thanks, kurtalert! It's amazing how many different interpretations this work/meta has elicited so far. I guess that's art! 😄
                                        • Darth 🤓6:34 · 2023-09-18T21:47:20.312Z
                                          Nice! I enjoyed connecting the dots on this one! Thanks, Capn Rick.
                                          • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T22:16:34.374Z
                                            Thank you, Darth. And congratulations on your debut last week. An instant classic and a real treat!
                                          • DrTom 8s · 2023-09-18T22:18:31.963Z
                                            I kept trying to spell something with the numbers, then with the clues that held the numbers, then... It was while thinking, "OK, Sky blue, Barn red, Farmer brown (I KNOW you are not above a good pun), Sister..."hey wait a minutes, I know that painting, and it was done by Grant WOOD49DMaterial used for framing most paintings[----]". I assume the rail was the rail on the porch? Nice on Rick, and enough of a departure from your usual that it gave me some fits at first. Enjoyed the literal AHA!!!
                                            • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T23:42:11.390Z
                                              Thanks, Tom. You weren't the only one to go the color route. I didn't realize that would be such a "red" herring. :) Glad you enjoyed it.
                                              • HeadinHome 🤓5:01 · 2023-09-19T01:49:55.628Z
                                                I did that color word association too! Barn red, red lobster, pitch black, etc.
                                                • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-19T03:02:46.676Z
                                                  Thanks for solving, Wendy!
                                              • Carolyn 3s · 2023-09-18T22:53:49.513Z
                                                That was really fun! It took me a bit longer than it should have, but finally saw the words to go with the numbers. I tried to draw lines between them at first. That produced a hideous picture. Very nice construction.
                                                • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-18T23:44:17.850Z
                                                  Glad you had fun with it, Carolyn. It's a different mechanism that I might try to use again in the future.
                                                • Mwoychick 🤓6:17 · 2023-09-18T23:48:58.228Z
                                                  You're an artist, Cap'n Rick - well done!
                                                  • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-19T01:21:29.868Z
                                                    Thanks, Mark. And as always, I appreciate your help with pretesting.
                                                  • Qmark 9s · 2023-09-19T01:52:54.140Z
                                                    wonderful construction...thanks Cap'n Rick!
                                                    • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-19T02:10:53.719Z
                                                      Thank you, Qmark. I appreciate the compliment!
                                                    • HeadinHome 🤓5:01 · 2023-09-19T01:57:26.704Z
                                                      I guessed the mechanism to be that the grid entry told you what to paint into the numbered square. In the first example, PIE9A"American ___", #1 hit for Don McLean[---] painted into square #1 (as clued) — replacing the S that was there, yields PIETA at 1-down1DAmtrak stop: Abbr.[---]. “Oh this will be fun!” said this former art major! But of course that was the only one — although someone on the web posted his art piece called “Odd Ork” — which would make that device work for ODD14ADescriptor for some Area 51 sightings[---] / FORK51DBranch in the road[----] also, if that artwork were at all famous (it is not). FINALLY just read all the number words out loud and immediately thought of the Grant Wood master. Duh!
                                                      • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-19T12:41:41.802Z
                                                        Thanks, Wendy. It is absolutely fascinating (and often entertaining) to read people's comments about their solving experiences. Also a great source of ideas for future mechanisms!
                                                      • Tyrpmom 1s · 2023-09-19T22:00:42.805Z
                                                        Another winner. Always look forward to your puzzles.
                                                        • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-19T22:45:53.289Z
                                                          Thank you, Beth! Appreciate it!
                                                        • Ergcat 🤓9:21 · 2023-09-20T13:37:53.094Z
                                                          Well, I had the mechanism from the get go…colored the numbers but didn’t get anything resembling art! The last nudge did it for me. Oh, well! Creative idea!
                                                          • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-20T16:33:14.580Z
                                                            Thanks for solving, Elaine!
                                                          • ajk 🤓6:22 · 2023-09-20T15:05:34.492Z
                                                            Didn't really solve it, just entered the only famous Grant Wood painting. :) I saw the numbers pretty quickly, and tried first letters of those entries, and the connect-the-dots approach, and then tried highlighting the grid entries--but did it with solid colors. I was assuming it was a grid-art type puzzle where once I filled in the right boxes the shape of some famous painting would leap out. That obviously didn't work. :) When the nudges seemed to confirm that was the path I just assumed that I didn't know the painting until the fifth nudge told me which artist to pick (and wiki confirmed that the only painting I knew of his was probably the only one I was supposed to know). :) Shame, because the idea is inspired. But I don't think I'd ever have seen it. Still, that's my fault not the puzzle's, which is a work of genius!
                                                            • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-20T16:35:24.264Z
                                                              Thanks, Alan. I guess my nudge should have specified "pastel" colors! :)
                                                            • Snood 3:46 · 2023-09-20T15:14:23.172Z
                                                              I always enjoy your puzzles! Thank you for sharing your skills with the group!
                                                              • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-20T16:36:08.839Z
                                                                Thank you, Snood. Glad you enjoyed it!
                                                              • ReB 3s · 2023-09-20T19:51:02.383Z
                                                                Very ingenious. I would never have gotten to the answer without nudges.
                                                                • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-20T20:52:14.499Z
                                                                  Thanks, ReB. Glad you liked it!
                                                                • Bird Lives 4s · 2023-09-20T21:56:29.568Z
                                                                  According to Wikipedia, " It depicts a farmer standing beside his daughter." His daughter [slap], his sister [slap], his daughter [slap], his sister [slap], . . .
                                                                  • Capn Rick constructor · 2023-09-20T22:09:31.429Z
                                                                    Ha! Yes, Jay, it's a farmer and daughter, but to maintain symmetry I had to go with Grant Wood's SISTER22DFemale family member[------] who posed for the painting. (The FARMER24DExpert in the field, literally[------] was actually his dentist). Artistic license, right?
                                                                  Cloud's place
                                                                  1. 1A
                                                                    Cloud's place
                                                                  2. 4A
                                                                    Burpee bagful
                                                                  3. 9A
                                                                    "American ___", #1 hit for Don McLean
                                                                  4. 12A
                                                                    Golf gadget
                                                                  5. 13A
                                                                    "More than likely..."
                                                                  6. 14A
                                                                    Descriptor for some Area 51 sightings
                                                                  7. 15A
                                                                  8. 18A
                                                                    Studio that released "Mata Hari" back in '31
                                                                  9. 19A
                                                                    Certain Hollywood film studio mascot
                                                                  10. 20A
                                                                    Beast of Borden
                                                                  11. 23A
                                                                    Art workshops, often
                                                                  12. 27A
                                                                  13. 28A
                                                                    MLB "twin killings"
                                                                  14. 31A
                                                                    Rural structure
                                                                  15. 32A
                                                                    Photo ___
                                                                  16. 33A
                                                                    Tender cuts
                                                                  17. 35A
                                                                    ___ Speedwagon
                                                                  18. 36A
                                                                    "The Addams Family" cousin
                                                                  19. 37A
                                                                    Ready to pour
                                                                  20. 38A
                                                                    PC alternative
                                                                  21. 39A
                                                                    Liberal arts college 29 miles northwest of Iowa City
                                                                  22. 40A
                                                                    Like a rabbit's foot, supposedly
                                                                  23. 41A
                                                                    JFK posting
                                                                  24. 42A
                                                                    A foolish time
                                                                  25. 45A
                                                                    Fireplace residue
                                                                  26. 46A
                                                                  27. 47A
                                                                    Farm females
                                                                  28. 50A
                                                                    "Son ___ gun!"
                                                                  29. 52A
                                                                    Sacred bird of Egypt
                                                                  30. 56A
                                                                    Wasn't built in a day, perhaps
                                                                  31. 59A
                                                                    Family game with 24 "Action cards"
                                                                  32. 60A
                                                                    Nez ___ (indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest)
                                                                  33. 61A
                                                                    Diamond club
                                                                  34. 62A
                                                                  35. 63A
                                                                    Expressed disapproval
                                                                  36. 64A
                                                                    Part of CBS
                                                                  1. 1D
                                                                    Amtrak stop: Abbr.
                                                                  2. 2D
                                                                    The homebrewer version holds 53 beers
                                                                  3. 3D
                                                                    "___ out!" (ump's call)
                                                                  4. 4D
                                                                    Prolonged attack
                                                                  5. 5D
                                                                    Dutch cheese
                                                                  6. 6D
                                                                  7. 7D
                                                                    Secluded valley
                                                                  8. 8D
                                                                    Pittsburgh product
                                                                  9. 9D
                                                                    He was 22 when his poem "To Helen" was first published
                                                                  10. 10D
                                                                    SSNs, e.g.
                                                                  11. 11D
                                                                    Magazine VIPs
                                                                  12. 16D
                                                                    Oscar winner Jannings
                                                                  13. 17D
                                                                    Gaming novice, slangily
                                                                  14. 20D
                                                                    Beethoven symphony
                                                                  15. 21D
                                                                    Portable computer
                                                                  16. 22D
                                                                    Female family member
                                                                  17. 24D
                                                                    Expert in the field, literally
                                                                  18. 25D
                                                                    Doggie rewards
                                                                  19. 26D
                                                                    Winter vehicle that can reach 27 feet in length
                                                                  20. 28D
                                                                    Dunkin' Munchkins®, e.g.
                                                                  21. 29D
                                                                    Sales spiel
                                                                  22. 30D
                                                                    Sacred Hopi ritual
                                                                  23. 33D
                                                                    Takes it easy
                                                                  24. 34D
                                                                    James Bond genre, informally
                                                                  25. 43D
                                                                    "All ___ of You" ("Phantom of the Opera" song)
                                                                  26. 44D
                                                                    Still competing
                                                                  27. 47D
                                                                    Poker variety
                                                                  28. 48D
                                                                    Chaplin's wife
                                                                  29. 49D
                                                                    Material used for framing most paintings
                                                                  30. 51D
                                                                    Branch in the road
                                                                  31. 53D
                                                                    Lobster-house handouts
                                                                  32. 54D
                                                                    "If ___ be so bold..."
                                                                  33. 55D
                                                                    Tennis units
                                                                  34. 57D
                                                                  35. 58D
                                                                    HS equivalency test that includes 49 raw points in Mathematical Reasoning