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New Abstract Landscape painting – Magnetic Dreams

With Magnetic Dreams, I was aiming for a moody painting. The scene is imagined, drawn from a love of the ocean and memories of many captivating ferry rides.

The calm of the quiet mountains is juxtaposed with the energy of the watercolor techniques and drips. (This is a mixed media painting on canvas, using acrylic paints, but painted with watercolor techniques.)

Here are some detail pics –

To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.  Free shipping in the US for VIP members.

[Top 50 Questions] Can I mix styles of art in my home?

oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Palm Winds (detail)
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart
See full painting here

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

Can I mix styles of art in my home? Yes!

Combining a mix of art styles in your home shows off your unique tastes, life experiences, and creativity.  It personalizes your home, makes it even more interesting, and opens up whole new conversations.

That’s my humble opinion 🙂   To look at some ideas from professional interior designers, click here.

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

 

Does it get lonely painting all day?

Holly Van Hart | abstract nature painting | studio | forests trees birch aspen

Working on Woodland Symphony (almost as tall as I am)

Question #25  Does it get lonely painting all day?

Nope. I treasure my time alone in the studio, and follow that with lots of time with friends and family. For me, it’s a perfect combination!!!

On a related note . . . on personality tests, the results usually show me to be 50% introvert and 50% extrovert. So it makes sense how this plays out in my work and personal life.

Which are you . . . extrovert or intravert?

btw, if you’re curious, here’s the finished painting . . .

Other questions I get asked a lot –

Do you listen to music when you’re painting?

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

How do sunsets make *you* feel?

Abstract Nature Painting by Holly Van Hart, sailboat, harbor, sunset, blue, pink, orange

Sunset Glow
30″ x 40″ oil painting on canvas (sold)

‘Sunset Glow’ is about the stunning beauty of the sky and water at sunset, especially its glorious colors. It’s also about the exciting reflections in the water, which amplify the colors and the take-your-breath-away feeling of sunsets like these.

If you look carefully, you can see some swooping textures underlying this painting (under the water, on both sides of the painting); on the left side, the texture runs from the water, through the docks, and into the horizon line.

What’s this texture about? It represents things that might not be so wonderful about this scene. Mostly the things we cannot see but can only speculate about, or the things we would need to have prior knowledge about.

For example, this harbor looks beautiful on this evening, but just 8 months prior, it had been completely ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. There’s always more to the story than meets the eye.

The artist creates the painting, and the viewer (that’s you) completes it with their personal interpretation.  What’s yours? Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

Originally published in 2013, and just updated

For more “What inspired this painting” articles, click here.

Did you always want to be an artist?

Abstract flower painting by Holly Van Hart | Blue, red, orange | Inspired by poppies

Dreaming in Full Color
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

When we’re young, most of us have big dreams for our lives. Have your dreams changed over time? Do you find that some doors have closed, but other (perhaps better) doors have opened?

Do you dream in full color?

My long-term dream of being a professional artist has come true, and my sons are turning into fine young men, but many of my other dreams have slipped away. Or maybe they just haven’t happened yet (like my dream of exercising consistently).

At the age of 15, my older son Skyler dreams of being a pediatrician, a software developer, or an ‘IT guy’. Erik, age 13, wants to be an architect or engineer or inventor like his Dad. At this age, all doors are open. Anything is possible! They are, as they should be, dreaming in full color. Isn’t that grand?

In this painting, ‘Dreaming in Full Color’, the flowers represent our dreams, shown in their full glory. The flowers are dancing around through the turbulence and beauty that we call life. Some dreams won’t survive this turbulence, but others will become bigger and stronger.

When it comes to your dreams, here’s wishing that your most color-full ones come true!

Your friend,
Holly

P.S. This post is based on one of the Top 50 Questions I’m asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties and other fun events). To see the Top 50, click here.

What does ‘vulnerability’ mean to you?

What does ‘vulnerability’ mean to you? Does hearing that word make you squirm and feel uncomfortable? It does that to me!

To put it all out there, my most vulnerable moments are when . . .
* I express love or appreciation to someone, and am not sure whether the feeling is returned
* My art is being exhibited and I’m in a room full of people seeing it for the first time
* I send an image of a new painting to the 500+ people on my email list
* Someone unsubscribes to my email list (ouch!)
* I post a new painting or article (like this one) on this blog
* My work is not accepted into a competition or exhibition
* My sons (now ages 11 and 13) are facing disappointment, and I can’t just ‘fix it’ for them any more

Luckily, from my years in high tech, I had many opportunities to experience both acceptance and rejection. I know how to roll with rejection. Sometimes I might need a few moments or hours or days to catch my breath and recover, but then I do, and life goes on and I can keep making progress. Thank goodness. Without that, life as an artist would be impossible!

 

To see the rest of my top 50 questions, click here.

 

Have a question for me? Click here.

 

Let’s stay in touch! Become a VIP member.  Learn more

 

On a totally different note . . . are you moving into a new home, remodeling, or just freshening up a room? Are you wondering how to use color successfully in your home or office? If so, you can get a Free Color Guide by clicking here – ‘The Top 7 Designer Secrets for Adding Color to Your Space‘.

Because of you

Friends,

Thank you!  Because of you, my life is filled with warmth and friendship and color and fun. You inspire me!  Don’t know what I’d do without you and your amazing support.

For a fun flashback, thought you might like to see a few photos from the installation of my 2014 solo show at the Triton Museum of Art . . .

With Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator at the Triton Museum of Art, on day of installation of my solo exhibition. Photo by my artist friend Marie Cameron.

With Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator at the Triton Museum of Art, on day of installation of my solo exhibition. Photo by my artist friend Marie Cameron.

 Preston wrote an essay about my work.  If you’re curious what it says, click here.

Photo unloading paintings from truck

Oh, the glamorous life of an artist! With Bryan Callanta unloading 17 paintings from the Uhaul truck into the Triton Museum of Art. Photo by Marie Cameron.

Feeling gleeful after all paintings were unloaded and delivered unharmed to the Triton Museum of Art. Photo by Marie Cameron.

Feeling gleeful after all paintings were unloaded and delivered unharmed to my favorite contemporary art museum 🙂 Photo by Marie Cameron.

Photos are compliments of Marie Cameron, a wonderful friend, artist and photographer. Thank you Marie!

Videos of the Triton Museum exhibition, an exhibition catalog, and more photos can be seen here by clicking here.

Warmly,
Holly

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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Embracing the Light

Here’s my latest abstracted forest painting –

Abstract landscape painting | forest trees land sky | green blue yellow brown red | painting by Holly Van Hart | Best of Houzz | Architect of Peace

Embracing the Light
48 x 60″ mixed media painting on canvas by Holly Van Hart
$7,500

This pic shows Embracing the Light installed (center) –

Abstracted forest paintings by Holly Van Hart
Woodland Symphony, Embracing the Light, Autumn Dance, and The Stories They Tell

Please contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com or 650 646 5590 for availability and pricing. Your email or call is welcome any time.

New! A Deep Breath

As you scroll down, you’ll see the progression of a newly released painting called ‘A Deep Breath’.

But first, I’d like to share this quote because captures my inspiration for this painting . . .

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” — Alice Walker

Starting a new forest drip painting. After failing at a bunch of earlier drip paintings Im determined to approach this differently | Holly Van Hart

One cool way to make a perfect, imperfect painting is to rely on lots of drips. That’s what I’ll do here.

Forest landscape painting in progress | Holly Van Hart

The drips can look like trunks, and branches, and, well, drips.
In the art world, when you can clearly see signs that something is a painting (and not a photo and not a photorealistic painting), we call this “painterly”.
This will be painterly.

Detail - A Deep Breath - Mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart - 48 x 48

Here’s a detail view.
The closer up you look, the more painterly it gets!

And (take a deep breath) here’s the finished painting . . .

Abstract landscape forest painting by Holly Van Hart | A Deep Breath48 x 48 mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart$6500 | Brown white blue

A Deep Breath
48 x 48″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
$6500

Installed painting - Landscape forest - A Deep Breath - Mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart - 48 x 48 INSTALLED (Custom)

‘A Deep Breath’ is hanging in my entryway.
It could be hanging in yours!
Purchase info here
To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com

To see all newly released paintings, click here.

For more paintings & inspirational quotes, click here.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Here’s an interesting question for you  . . . ‘What advice would you give to your younger self?’

If you feel like sharing your answer, please drop me a note at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

After giving lots of thought to this question, and tossing aside a few false starts, I found my answer . . . ‘To be successful in your career, you need to work smart, work hard, and add a healthy dose of self promotion.’ In the past I was pretty good at the 1st two (working hard and smart), and totally oblivious to the self-promotion part.

I’m starting to get better at it now (if I didn’t, no one would know my art existed!), but still have plenty to learn.

Do you have any tips? I’m all ears!

Holly

P.S.  Speaking about self-promotion, the painting shown above is named ‘Every Restless Night’. It is sold, but available paintings can be seen online here.  Free delivery for VIP members. Free local installation and hanging in the Silicon Valley area.  If you’re interested, please email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.


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

Where can I get prints of your paintings?

New! High quality prints available

Holly Van Hart’s award winning nature paintings are now available as high quality prints. You can shop online here for prints on canvas, framed prints, acrylic prints, metal prints, and more.

Scroll below to see the options, or click for a larger view of available prints. Enjoy shopping!

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

Holly’s Video Tour through Triton Museum solo show

Come take a tour through my solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art! Learn the stories behind a few key paintings, and see the exhibition installed in the Triton’s Rotunda Gallery.

“Van Hart’s hard-won painterly skills are undeniable and compelling. Her 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

<!–Special Offer – Choosing art should be easy, exciting and fun. With my new 'Choosing Art with Confidence' cheatsheet, you’ll receive hot tips on choosing art and letting it work its magic on you! Click here for your ‘Choosing Art with Confidence’ cheatsheet – Free!–>

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

Get the latest paintings and exhibition info delivered to your inbox! Learn more here.

Standing Naked in Front of a Crowd

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).

How does an artist feel before a big art exhibition?

Like standing naked in front of a crowd!

Do you know that feeling of creating something new (product, recipe, marketing campaign, etc), and then feeling exposed and vulnerable when you revealed it?

Well, that’s how we artists feel every time our art is exposed to the world . . . vulnerable. It’s true for novice artists as well as the most experienced and even (I hear) famous artists.

Posh, oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Putting on a brave face before my Open Studio event
Behind me is ‘Posh’, oil painting by Holly Van Hart

And the bigger the art exhibition, the greater the feeling of exposure. The reason is that the most authentic artwork will reflect an artist’s deepest feelings and thoughts and ideas.

So when we exhibit our art, it feels like we’re standing naked in front of a crowd. (Or how I imagine that would feel, as I’ve never actually been naked in front of a crowd.)

Holly

 

 

[Top 50 Questions] Are you worried about oil paints being toxic?

I’m not worried about oil paints being toxic. Oil paints are toxic if you eat them. Otherwise, they are fine.

Paint solvents, thinners, and thickeners are often toxic. I don’t use any of these, except for turpentine to deep-clean my brushes (which I do outside).

Oil painting mediums (such as thickeners and thinners) tend to be an artist’s best friends. I had some favorite mediums that were toxic, but after some intense experimenting around, I found and fell in love with two that aren’t – walnut oil to thin the paints, and Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel as a thickener.

And I try my best not to eat the paints 🙂

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Want to know what’s going on in my studio? Friend me on Facebook and see something new every day!

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 🙂

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.

Tell me about the texture in your paintings

s and eggs) and emphasize their rhythm.

Most of my texture is created using heavy acrylics in an underpainting. That is, my first step is to apply acrylic paints to the stretched canvas (usually red paint, applied thickly), and let that dry before starting the first layer of oil paints. The textured swirls are made using a variety of tools; my favorites being a painting knife and a hair comb. (You can see a video demo of the texture process here.)

The texture sometimes aligns with the subject of the painting, and sometimes goes against the natural lines of what’s represented in the painting. That’s on purpose. It mirrors the complexity of our lives.

Thanks for your interest!

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).

Free eBook – Top 7 Designer Secrets

Want to choose exciting colors for your home, but not sure what goes with what?

Get hot color tips with this Free resource guide.

Want to choose exciting colors for your home, but not sure what goes with what?

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

Painting Inspirations Book

Free eBook!

Treat yourself to
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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Grand Prize Award – California Painting Competition

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, nest, blue, nature's colors abstracted

Possibilities Abound
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Grand Prize Award – California Statewide Painting Competition

Originally published in 2013, and just updated with info on upcoming events and prints.

I’m walking on air . . . I was honored to have won Grand Prize at the California Statewide Painting Competition.

The 1st place award was a solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art.  (To see pics and videos of my solo show, click here.)

In the words of the curators of the Triton Museum of Art . . .

“Holly van Hart warmed the jurors with her painting Possibilities Abound. A nest cradles eggs, rendered with a confident, loose brushstroke that evokes a sense that this could be any nest, anywhere. And as with all great art, the metaphor returns the image to contemplations of us, the viewers. Avian becomes human, the unborn promise becomes our own possibilities, to be nurtured and explored. We are seeing nothing less than the potential of the human spirit, nestled in nature’s bed.”

– Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator
– Ester Fernandez, Curator of Education/Curator
– Stephanie Learmonth, Registrar/Curator

Click here for photos taken at the Triton Museum during the 2013 California Statewide Painting Competition Exhibition.

For upcoming events, click here.

This painting is sold. For prints, click here.

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