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The Year in Review Highlights – 2020

2020 brought us a global pandemic and was a very trying year. There were many hardships but also some bright silver linings. Here are the highlights  . . .

In February, Ike and I celebrated the 30th anniversary of our first date. What a fabulous 3 decades it’s been. Lucky us!!

 

We visited Ike’s Mom in Canada in January. She turned 90 this year! (shown: Erik, Oma, Skyler)

 

 

Did amazing local hikes and met fascinating new friends by joining the San Jose Mid-Week Hikers Group. The group stopped meeting in March due to the pandemic, but a few of us continued to hike together (socially distanced, with masks, in groups of 2 or 3).

 

Spectacular week-long hiking vacation in Death Valley with my friend Adrienne (pre “shelter in place”).

 

Our oldest son Skyler graduated with honors from Saratoga High School. Due to covid, he had a drive-through graduation. Sky then headed off to Ohio to study bioengineering at Case Western Reserve University.

 

With my friend Maria, we did a 2-week road trip and visited 5 gorgeous national parks in Utah.  (shown: Arches National Park)

 

the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently gave Holly Van Hart the Women in the Arts Recognition Award, which spotlights women who have made significant achievements in their artistic fields.

Received the prestigious Art Recognition Award from the The National Society | Daughters of the American Revolution.

 

Loved loved loved the bounty from my husband’s garden – figs, tomatoes, persimmons, lemons, cala lilies, begonias and more 🙂

 

Mountain biked in the local Fremont Older Open Space Preserve every week with my friends Ellen and Ying. We usually cancelled when the air was smoky (as in this pic) but sometimes we just needed to get out there!

 

Started mentoring first generation college-bound students. The MVLA Scholars AVID mentoring program is all volunteer and very impressive.

 

At Mirada Fine Art Gallery in Colorado for my solo show. I’m proud to be working with this prestigious gallery. It has been selected for many awards, including American Art Awards “Top 25 US Galleries”.

 

Thanks to great friends, we enjoyed many happy hours and meals outside this year. Socially distanced, sometimes with masks, always super-fun.

 

One last highlight . . . and the most important for 2020 – Our family and extended family remained Covid-free. Knock wood. We have been so very fortunate.

 

All the best to you, my friend, for next year and beyond. Stay healthy. The best is yet to come!

Signature of artist Holly Van Hart

 

 

 

 

New! Petite Treasures

The holidays are almost here. Need a special gift for your special someone?

New! Petite Treasures are gift-sized original paintings by yours truly. They are created with the same great care used with my large-scale paintings, and with the highest quality archival materials. Each painting is museum-quality and ready to hang in the finest of homes and work spaces.

Click to see all available Petite Treasures

Treat yourself or a loved one! Click to see all available Petite Treasures.

 

Additional info here –  Purchase / Guarantee / Gift Certificates,  Petite TreasuresTry Before You Buy,  Studio Visit

Isn’t it hard to part with your paintings?

In “Top Fifty Questions”, I’ll answer the top questions I’m asked as an artist. (These questions are usually asked at cocktail parties and other fun social events.)

Question #4 –  Isn’t it hard to part with your paintings?

Yes, and no, mostly no.

Every time I set out to make a painting, I’m excited about the potential of it. If (after a few months of work) I complete it and am equally or more excited, than I know it’s done. I photograph the painting, post it to my website and blog, and start exhibiting it. When it sells, I feel a great sense of satisfaction and love the connection it establishes (or strengthens) with the collector.

I’ll make this analogy . . .
* Starting a painting is like having a newborn baby – exciting and exhausting.
* Making a painting is like raising a child – tons of work,  challenging and fun.
* Selling a painting is like having your child graduate university and land an excellent job – you’re elated that he/she has successfully ‘launched’ and sad that you’ll see less of him/her.  But mostly elated.

That’s my experience.  Do you have a similar experience to share?

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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A feeling of quiet and serenity

Painting by Holly Van Hart, landscape, lake, fallen leaf lake, morning, light, reflections

Morning Light
40″ x 30″ oil painting on canvas by Holly Van Hart (sold)

A few times a year my family spends the weekend at or near Lake Tahoe, CA. It’s a gorgeous place, with expansive views of the Sierras just about everywhere you look. And what makes it even more special is enjoying it with friends!

One Saturday morning, before everyone else was awake, I took a walk along the lake and snapped lots of photos. Back in my studio, I painted ‘Morning Light’. Morning is my favorite time of the day, and my aim was to convey a feeling of quiet and serenity.

Gallery Wrap side view of "Morning Light"

Gallery Wrap side view of “Morning Light”

‘Building the Future’

'Building the Future' Oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Building the Future
24″ x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
See available paintings here

‘Building the Future’ is about the choices we make for ourselves, and the excitement of preparing for a big life-change.

If the hands in this painting look at all familiar,  it may be because they were inspired by Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Three Muses”.  To see some of my earlier work inspired by Rodin, click here.

This is the first of a few paintings in my Possibilities series that were inspired by Rodin.  Living in Silicon Valley, we’re close to Stanford University and its amazing Rodin Sculpture Garden.  I love any excuse to get back there!  Stay tuned for more . . .

(If you’re curious about the Possibilities series, you can read more here, “What’s up with all the eggs and nests?“)

Comments?

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What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

The hardest part of creating a painting is coming up with an amazing idea, and then turning that idea into an inspired design.

Producing the painting (that is, putting the paint on the canvas)  isn’t a piece of cake either, but that seems to flow once the first part is nailed down.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Have a question to add to the top 50?  Ask away  (in the comments section below or send an email to holly.vanhart@gmail.com).

[Top 50 Questions] Do you use photo references?

Yes, I use photo references for most paintings. Typically I’ll use 3-5 photo references as input for a single painting. The photos help me better understand the shape of the subject, its highlights, and shadows.

Often I’ll start a painting by creating a realistic rendering of the subject. Once I’m pleased with the design and the how the subject looks, then I put away the photo references and the real fun begins! I crank up the music, get loose, use my imagination, and start introducing exciting not-found-in-nature colors and shapes and rhythms. This is where the ‘abstract’ of my ‘abstract nature paintings’ comes in.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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Aspen painting – A Hundred Yellow Ribbons

A playful and celebratory painting . . . aspens draped with dreamy turquoise and yellow gold ribbons.

Don’t be shy. Call me or email me with questions or for purchase info (408 309 5564, holly.vanhart@gmail.com). Shipping is free for VIP members.

If you’d like to see more abstracted forest paintings, click here.

Related info –

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Commissions
Studio visit
Purchase details
Try Before You Buy program

 

[Top 50 Questions] What subjects inspire you?

My husband is a gardener.  I feel very fortunate to have his beautiful trees and and flowers growing all around us as inspiration for my paintings.

On my short walk to the studio each day, I pass bougainvillea, roses, amaryllis, daffodils, lemons, oranges, figs and more (depending on the season).  Lucky me!

I am also inspired every time I go for a walk in our neighborhood and on local hiking trails.

 

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What inspires you? (Free eBook)

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inspiring art and ideas.

Nature's Inspirations | Top 25 Paintings Paired with Favorite Inspirational Quotes | author and artist Holly Van Hart

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Top 25 Paintings and favorite inspirational quotes.

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A Full Life

The abstract nature paintings you see on this website are inspired by life’s limitless possibilities!

Each painting is meant to convey a sense of plenty, fullness, color, prosperity, and opportunity. Sometimes we have all of these things in our lives. Sometimes we’re only wishing for them.

But it’s always nice to think and dream about them!

‘A Full Life’ is available for purchase (30 x 40″ original oil painting on canvas, painted on the edges, wired on the back, ready to hang, $3800 + tax). For a limited time, shipping is free for VIP members. Contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com for details.

To see all available paintings, click here.

Book Preview (Video) – Free instant download

See Holly Van Hart’s top 25 paintings, paired with favorite inspirational quotes. Free eBook full of exciting images and ideas!

Open Studio Event (ongoing)

Hello art lovers!

You’re invited to my (socially distanced) Open Studio solo exhibition. Please join me at my home gallery and studio in Saratoga, California for this ongoing exhibition.

Dates:   By appointment  Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com or call 408 309 5564 and let’s make a date.  (The format is changed due to the pandemic. We will wear masks and stay socially distant.)
Location:  20830 Boyce Lane, Saratoga, CA 95070

Come visit and say hello!  Enjoy browsing through my home gallery and studio.  Bring your friends and family.

More than twenty new abstract nature paintings will be on display and for purchase – forests, fields, flowers, nests, landscapes and more.  Smaller paintings, prints and notecards are also available for purchase.

Plus you’ll see some brand new experimental work that is only available in my studio.

Abstract-Nature-Paintings | Birch Aspen Trees Roses | Autumn Dance | Summer Sparkle | Amid The Scent of Roses-by-HollyVanHart | Installed paintings | Living Room | Oil and acrylic paintings

The Open Studio event includes a tour of my home gallery as well as my home studio.

Seeing art in person is the absolute best way to experience it. Please take this opportunity to visit!

This exhibit is part of Silicon Valley Open Studios.

Make an appointment and add it to your calendar today.  See you soon!

 


For news on upcoming open studio and gallery events, sign up for my mailing list. (One email every 2-3 weeks.)


Grand Prize, California Statewide Painting Competition

Originally published in 2014 (and re-published now just for fun!)

San Jose Mercury News

Holly Van Hart wins first place at Statewide Painting Competition

Saratoga resident Holly Van Hart poses with ‘Possibilities Abound’, the work that won her the Triton Museum of Art’s Statewide Painting Competition (Photograph by George Sakkestad, San Jose Mercury News)

Saratoga artist places first in Triton Museum competition

By Khalida Sarwari    POSTED:   01/06/2014

If anyone was looking for Holly Van Hart on Christmas Day, she could be found in the studio of her Saratoga home “painting up a storm.”

Fresh from placing first in the Triton Museum of Art’s 2013 statewide painting competition, Van Hart has been busy preparing for a series of exhibitions this year.

“I have a good idea of how many works I need. I just have to work hard at creating good works,” Van Hart said just weeks after a reception where she was announced as one of two first-place winners in the Triton competition for her 30-by-40-inch painting Possibilities Abound. Along with the work of fellow first-place winner Cuong Nguyen of San Jose, Van Hart’s painting, depicting a nest cradling three eggs, was tops among 92 works that were ultimately selected for exhibition from more than 1,000 entries.

Van Hart’s prize is a solo exhibition at Triton in November. For that, Van Hart is building on the theme of Possibilities Abound, one of several abstract nest paintings she has all over her home.

For Van Hart, it’s the symbolism that draws her to the subject matter. Nests, she said, represent our homes, and eggs stand for lives yet to be hatched and the possibilities they have ahead of them.

Eggs also signify self-invention, a concept that Van Hart applied in her personal life in June 2013 when she quit her job at Microsoft to pursue oil painting full time.

“I was a high-tech sales operations director for many years. I had a really good job and it was fun, but this is funner,” she said with a laugh.

It’s a decision she has not regretted, she said.

“The whole time [I was working], as a hobby I was doing art, drawing, watercolor, acrylics and then oil,” she said. “I always liked it as a hobby, and I got more and more passionate about it. When I thought the time was right, I switched to doing it full time.”

The extra time has given Van Hart the opportunity to immerse herself in her hobby, and although she no longer keeps a strict 9-to-5 routine, that’s not to say she doesn’t work hard at her craft.

“I work every day,” she said. “I paint full time Monday to Friday, all day. On weekends I sometimes paint or do art business stuff.”

Aside from abstracts, she also enjoys nature and landscape paintings. Her past works include figures of people in action and a series of works based on the sculptures of Rodin.

Van Hart’s paintings have been exhibited in Los Gatos. In 2009, the Los Gatos Art Association named her as its artist of the year.

This year will present several opportunities for the public to view her works. In March, Van Hart will display her paintings at Mike’s Cafe in Palo Alto, and in May she will be participating in Silicon Valley Open Studios, an annual event when artists open their home studios to the general public, allowing them to converse with the artists and purchase artworks directly.

Triton’s Statewide Painting Competition is held every two years. This was the first time in the museum’s history that two first-place winners were selected. The exhibition featuring the 92 selected works will run through Feb. 2. The Triton Museum is at 1505 Warburton Ave., in Santa Clara.

 

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‘Embracing the Light’ is paired with a custom cocktail

Embracing the Light
48 x 60″ mixed media painting on canvas by Holly Van Hart
Sold

For a holiday party, I paired paintings with custom cocktails. ‘Embracing the Light’ (above) was paired with a cocktail I named ‘Red Smash’.

Here’s the recipe –
2 ounces London dry gin
1 ounce cranberry juice
1 ounce Rose’s lime juice
Whole fresh cranberries, for garnish

It was a big hit!!

Why Red Smash is paired with Embracing the Light
In keeping with the Dutch theme for our party . . . gin was first made in Holland and is known as ‘Dutch courage’.

The gin in this drink uses juniper berries as its primary ingredient. ‘Embracing the Light’ is primarily dark green, like juniper.

Gin uses ‘botanicals’ to give it its complex flavor. In addition to juniper, Boodles British Gin includes hints of coriander seed, angelica root, angelica seed, cassia bark, nutmeg, rosemary and sage. The painting ‘Embracing the Light’ uses an equally wide range of colors to give it its complexity; in fact it uses all the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) and many variations.

Enjoy! (The cocktail and the painting!)

Free eBook – Solo Exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art

This 28-page book features the richly colored oil paintings exhibited by Holly Van Hart at the Triton Museum of Art.

This book includes essays by DeWitt Cheng and Preston Metcalf –

Van Hart’s naturalistic yet symbolic paintings present their enigmatic subjects with both beauty and conviction, memorably
– DeWitt Cheng, Art writer for Art Ltd, Artillery, ARTnews, and Visual Art Source

powerful in its message of human connectivity
– Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator of the Triton Museum of Art

Click for FREE Instant Download

(This book is also available on Amazon for $27)

If you like this book, please share it with your friends!

The Sun’s Warmth – New abstracted forest painting

Like a cat, I love feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. Do you?

Come step into this sun-soaked forest . . .

This painting is hanging in my home, but it could be hanging in yours 🙂

Would you like to see this painting in person?  Email me for a studio visit.

To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.  Free shipping in the continental US.

Purchase details

Try Before Your Buy program

 

To see all available paintings, click here.

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

Collector of Holly Van Hart's oil painting, commissioned for her living room

Meet Diane F
Adventurer, Mom, Retired Sales Executive
A collector of my art, and now a friend

What’s the favorite part of your job? Whether you’re a banker, lawyer, stay-at-home parent, or an artist, we all have something we love most about our jobs.

The favorite part of my job is . . . you!

Really. The absolute best part of being an artist is that it gives me an excuse to get to know you better. I feel honored to know you, and to keep in touch with you.

(Plus, as you may have guessed, I love playing around with gorgeous, buttery oil paints all day long.)

So, today I’m featuring Diane F, a fascinating and accomplished woman, a collector of my art, and now a friend.

Here are some of the many things that are totally cool about Diane –

  • As a sales exec in the electronics industry, Diane aimed to retire by the age of 45 and succeeded.
  • Last year, Diane became a Mom of an amazingly adorable son.
  • She holds a Masters degree in Computer Education
  • While in college, Diane led a group of 50 teenagers on a bus tour across the US.
  • As a world traveler and adventurer, she has (in her words) “seen half the world, and still has half to go”.

Diane recently remodeled her home, and commissioned me to make a painting for her spacious living room. In honor of Diane’s cool accomplishments, the painting is named ‘Dreams within Reach’.

Video – The making of Diane F’s custom painting
(Link to all videos on Holly’s YouTube video channel)

It’s a privilege to know you Diane!!!

If I were an egg

Hi there. Meet ‘Possibilities on High’.

In the upper right of this painting, you can see a big and colorful bird’s nest.  It’s sitting up high on the branches of huge magnolia tree, on a warm summer day.

The nest looks peacefully and securely settled in the tree.  At the same time, it is quite exposed.

If I were an egg, I’d love to live in this nest in a magnolia tree (despite the risks of exposure).  Would you?

(If you’re wondering “What’s up with all the nests?”, click here.)

Originally published in 2013, and just updated and republished

What’s up with all the nests? (Video)

In “Top Fifty Questions”,  I answer the top 50 questions I’m asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties and other fun social events).

I’ve gone crazy for nests. Well, really I’ve gone crazy for eggs and nests and what they represent.

All my paintings with nests are meant to express the boundless possibilities and opportunities we have in our lives, and are part of my “Possibilities” series.  Larger-than-life eggs and nests symbolize the promise of our own capabilities, to be nurtured and explored and stretched to their fullest potential.

My intentions are given away by the titles of some of the paintings – Possibilities in Full Color, Unlimited Possibilities, and Possibilities Abound (winner of the California Statewide Painting Competition).

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Follow Holly’s latest art news, exhibits, and special offers (and get a free eBook). Learn more here.

Can you feel the ocean breeze?

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, blue, landscape, palm trees

Palm Winds
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

Welcome to the tropics!

As you view “Palm Winds”, can you feel the warm wind on your skin? This painting is meant to instill a feeling of peacefulness from the beauty of the trees, sea, and sky. The empty picnic tables are inviting you to sit down and have a meal. It is a hot day, and the wind is offsetting the tropical heat.

The inspiration for this painting draws on my travels to Tahiti, Thailand, Costa Rica and other places of tropical awesomeness.  In addition, it was inspired by an amazing photo taken by my friend Veronique Gillard. (Thank you Veronique!)

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, yellow, blue, abstract, circles

Palm Winds
Side view
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

This painting is sold. For available paintings, click here.

Originally published in 2013, and just updated

Paradise Found

Here’s a video on the making of Paradise Found –

Questions? Interested in hanging this painting in your home? Contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com. Click here for purchase info.

Award of Merit – California Fine Art Competition

“You too I welcome”
24 x 30″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

Re-sharing a special moment from 2009 . . . I have some good news to share with you.  My painting “You too I welcome” was accepted into the California Fine Art Competition and Exhibition, and it won an Award of Merit.

The juror was Jack Ogden, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Sacramento. Jack Ogden has received numerous awards and honors over his career, and his work is in the permanent collections of many museums.

Thank you Professor Ogden. I’m feeling very honored 🙂

Abstract forest painting, ‘Every Restless Night’

Hi there! Thanks for being here to check out my new work.  Here’s the latest!

This painting has gotten great feedback & has been featured on the cover of Denver Life magazine.

Denver Life October 2019 - painting by Holly Van Hart over fireplace

Every Restless Night, 48×48″ painting by Holly Van Hart
Featured on the cover of Denver Life Magazine

Questions? Interested? Please contact Steve Sonnen of Mirada Fine Art gallelry, (303) 697-9006, info@miradafineart.com or holly.vanhart@gmail.com

Abstract floral painting, The Genius in All of Us

Most of us may not feel like geniuses, but everyone has a special quality or skill that is unique to this world. That is the ‘genius in all of us’.

This new floral painting “The Genius in All of Us” features large abstract tulips in red, purple, blue, yellow, and orange. The tulips represent and celebrate the diversity of our individual strengths.

What are your strengths?

My strength is painting. I suppose another strength is being a jack-of-all-trades generalist that includes some of the business skills needed to be a full-time artist and entrepreneur. (Still working on those others!!)

 

btw, the Genius in All of Us was purchased as a surprise birthday gift for my new friend Heike by her husband.

flower botanical painting | tulips red violet orange yellow | American painter Holly Van Hart

The Genius in All of Us
Hanging in their beautiful home in Silicon Valley, California
Heike is thrilled with her new painting, so I’m thrilled too 🙂

 

 

Interested in seeing other available floral and tree paintings?  Or learning about commissions (custom paintings)?

Or learn more on these pages – About, Press (Huffington Post, Professional Artist, ABC News, and more), Testimonials.

White roses and school soccer

What do school soccer and ‘Threshold of Miracles’ have in common?

Inspiration is everywhere!

The inspiration for this painting was a big bush of white roses planted at a local school (Holly Oak Elementary in San Jose, CA).  The roses were brilliantly lit in the afternoon sun.  I noticed them during the half-time break from my son’s soccer game, and couldn’t resist snapping a bunch of photos.

Using my computer, I tried a few combinations of photos until one stood out as the best design. Then I set to work in my studio to make this painting.

This painting is called ‘Threshold of Miracles’.  It symbolizes all the amazing things we can do with our lives (and the miracles we can create) when we keep our eyes open.

Wishing you lots of sunshine and miracles in your life!

Do you believe in unlimited possibilities?

Unlimited Possibilities, 20" x 20"

Unlimited Possibilities
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

“Unlimited Possibilities” is all about the unlimited possibilities of the baby birds, not yet hatched, with their whole lives still ahead of them.

Parallels can be easily be made with our own lives and our children’s lives. No matter what age we might be now, the possibilities ahead really are unlimited.  How exciting!

If you look closely, you can see underlying texture on this painting is oval shaped; this is meant harmonize with the shape of the eggs themselves.

The texture adds complexity to the painting, and symbolizes the complexity of nature and our lives.  We may have unlimited possibilities in our lives, but it’s not always easy to take advantage of them.

Unlimited PossibilitiesSide view20" x 20" oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Unlimited Possibilities
Side view
20″ x 20″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Unlimited Possibilities was one of 18 paintings in my solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art. For videos, pics, and a Triton Museum catalog (free), click here.

Are you glad you became a full-time artist?

Yes, absolutely!  Being a full-time artist feels like what I was meant to do.

In 2013, I made the decision to leave a 20-year career in high tech to become a professional artist. (While in high tech, I painted with passion, exhibited my work, and sold it. But painting was a hobby then.)

Being in high tech was challenging, interesting, and rewarding. High tech gave me the opportunity to work with so many fascinating people, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

But I definitely made the right decision! High tech was fun, but a career in the arts is even “funner”.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions I’m asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties or other fun events).

New – Cocktail paired with a Painting!

For a holiday party, I paired a painting with a custom cocktail. ‘The Boundary of Spring’ (above) was paired with a cocktail I named ‘Spring-tini’.

Here’s the recipe –
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce pear juice
1 ounce rosemary syrup (I used rosemary from our front garden)
A squeeze of fresh lemon (we picked the lemons from trees in our back yard)
Rosemary sprig, for garnish

Why Spring-tini is paired with The Boundary of Spring

The Spring-tini cocktail has pear juice. Pear is a soft flavor; it is analogous to the soft sky in the painting.

Rosemary has a tea-like aroma and an assertive piney flavor; it is analogous to the stronger color of the green/brown ground in the painting.

Vodka is a subtle but absolutely necessary component of this drink. Similarly, the texture in the painting is both subtle and absolutely necessary to the success of the painting.

 

Enjoy!

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