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by Jan McNeill
A brave 15 members turned up at the Saturday January 16, 2021 Parking Lot event at WAS-H. Despite temperatures starting in the mid 40’s and climbing to the high 50s, attendees were well prepared with their winter wear and face masks. Everyone enjoyed the sunny morning and a chance to safely reconnect with painting friends as well as to make new acquaintances. Hope to see you at future events!
by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director
We at WAS-H are welcoming 2021 with renewed hope and optimism that we will in a very short time be able to enjoy our wonderful building for classes and shows in the gallery. In the meantime, our virtual shows have been our lifeline, keeping us connected and providing a platform to share our work. Fifty-four painting were entered into our January 2021 online show, and we were once again amazed at how hugely talented our membership is.
The difficult task of choosing the winners was accepted by Houston artist and HBU professor, Michael Roque Collins. Michael received a BFA at University of Houston and an MFA at Southern Methodist University and for many years, in addition to being a producing artist, he served as artist, educator and advisor at various Texas institutions, guiding university graduate and undergraduate art programs. He is currently the Senior Director of the Visual Arts Department at Houston Baptist University, where he is also Artist-in-Residence in Painting and Professor of Art focused on teaching in the MFA program. Michael is also a prolific artist and is recognized for his figurative Post Symbolist painting. He has had numerous exhibitions at nationally and internationally recognized galleries and museum venues and may be seen in 13 museums in the U.S. as well numerous corporate collections.
Michael did a wonderful job and I’m so pleased to be able to share with you Michael’s own words about the show:
“As I studied each work enlarged on my computer screen the fluidity and love of this most amazing painting tradition was very evident in all of the works submitted. I must suggest that selecting only six awards was difficult as so many of the works submitted called to me. Generally, I am attracted to art which possesses both content and process and that reveals its energy through means that does not allow its theory to outstrip performance. Each of your fine works attracted my eye in different ways and each have value not just to the artist, though moreover to all others who are fortunate to explore the outstanding variety of their expression. Modalities of still life, figurative, landscape, abstraction and art which balances both figuration and abstraction are present in this fine grouping. Thematic content, energy of mark and gesture, fluidity, control of light and progressions of hues are always in my mind when selecting my own work for exhibition and as I continued to study each entry certain works began to recall my attention. After a great period of reflection my award selections seem to balance both traditions of abstraction and figuration and capture the fluid tradition of water media.
I wish to thank all at the Watercolor Art Society of Houston for their invitation to jury this fine January membership exhibition. Congratulations to all of the artists for your fine works and for contribution to the progression of the great tradition of watercolor.
First Place, Moto Yasue, Soon Enough Dawn, combines the fine traditions of watercolor through the expression of multiple worlds. The spiritual through the juxtaposition of representational and abstract states is exquisite and this work reveals a superb use of both wet and dry processes that are masterfully handled. The energies in this work are poetic and take my eye to other worlds.
Second Place, Adriane Edmundson, Olive Trees, possess a thoughtful progression of hues while possessing a variation of line and movement. Its brushwork is powerful and the ethereal energy transports me to a place that I could imagine Cezanne exploring with his watercolors in another place and time. The transitions between light and shade possess the evidence of hand and all the emotional energy that this association reveals is memorable.
Third Place, Larry Spitzberg, A Big Welcome, possesses an illuminate energy and immediacy with excellent control of transparent watercolor processes. This work transmits a sense of joy both with content and process.
Honorable Mention, Cheryl Evans, Wade Into the New Year - Open Up the Book Of Morning, excellently represents the currents of representational art with romantic underpinnings where light bathes a distant sea vista heightened by the colorful handling of a rising sun. It recalls the delicate handlings of Tuner and the early German romantic landscapes of Casper David Fredrick where light is indeed a metaphor for the spiritual in the human condition.
Honorable Mention, Fontaine Jacobs, Kitchen Clean Up, has excellent fluidity and an intelligent use of limited hues mindful of the works of Alberto Giacometti. This painting also expresses it themes through the its excellent handling of light and is connected to aspects of reality that Richard Deibenkorn explored decades ago before his Ocean Park Series. While playful this watercolor asserts its power though its fluid bold expression.
Honorable Mention, Sharyn Richey, El Centro, utilizes gesture and fluidity of brush mark to transport us to a place where the landscape is barely held recognizable and its colorful hues reminds one of Sargent where less may at times be more. The rich hues and varied linear elements also provide an illuminate energy that is memorable.”
Our most sincere thanks go to Michael for his thoughtful and educational observations.
I also want to once again thank our online show team that spend many hours preparing the show: Karen Stopnicki, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geigerman, Martin Butler, Nancy McMillian and Kathleen Church.
FIRST PLACE: Enough Dawn by Motoko Yasue Soon
As an artist, I'm always intrigued to observe watercolor pigments traveling and spreading with water on paper. During this process, it is important for me at times to cast fate to the whims of gravity and accept whatever accidental happenings that the water creates. Like one’s life, this phenomenon is not always controllable. The geometric circular shapes in this work are a metaphor of a portal wherein we, humans, seek a transition from dark to light in life’s difficult circumstances. To depict one's movement or transition to a positive mental state, I illuminated the dim seascape by applying thin layers of transparent warm-colors such as red and yellow over the saturated dark blue hues.
SECOND PLACE Olive Trees by Ariane Edmundson
My family has a little summer Villa on the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been missing it so much in these trying times, as my trip was cancelled last summer, and I’ve habitually been going there every year of my life. I call myself half-native to this splendid coastal area, steeped in mythology. This particular stretch, near Capri, is said to be the place where Odysseus was sung to and almost lured ashore by the Sirens. In order to rest and partake, he decided to tie himself to the mast of his ship so as not to fall victim to their splendors. I too, have to resist their song, but am evermore deeply connected...and will return someday soon.
Sparkling Mediterranean waters and the swaying branches are still calling. If you look closely, you’ll find the Siren...
I used in succession: watercolor, line with pencil and grease pencil, acrylic paint. My challenge was to keep the spontaneity and sparkling joy in it, to keep a dancing quality in the movement and not to overwork it.
HONORABLE MENTION: El Centro by Sharyn Richey
I was really pleased to have my work, El Centro, recognized as Honorable Mention among such outstanding work!
Up until now most of my watercoloring has been en plein air, but not being able to travel to inspiring locations during the pandemic forced me to explore other ways to remain active in the medium. At the first of the year I decided to try my hand at abstractions (or nearly so) and this particular work was one of the first of these. I credit Eric Weigardt (whose workshop was the last in-person before we shut down) for inspiring me to paint more freely, as well as to use more brilliant colors and greater variety in viscosity. In addition, I have been studying John Marin's work for ideas on composition. Both influenced this very new direction in my work.
In addition, I think you would also appreciate a little story about a hiccup in the entry process: I submitted three entries a few days before the deadline but then received notice that one of them (El Centro) had not been received. I was asked "Are you still working on it?" No, but that gave me an idea. I was unhappy with an area in the upper left and saw a chance to "fix it up" before re-submitting. But you all know how that can go! On the morning of the due date I was unhappily looking at a piece that had been greatly diminished by the additional work! I considered sending it anyway; but then I gave myself a "talking to": If I had painted it before, I could paint something close to that again. Quickly. So, within a few hours I submitted a new painting with the same name as the original, "El Centro." I have to laugh that of my three entries, it was the one done most quickly with no opportunity for second thoughts that got recognized by our judge. Perhaps I should put all my work on a timer!
HONORABLE MENTION: Kitchen Cleanup by Fontaine Jacobs
Kitchen Cleanup was done during a kitchen remodel. I had to pack up everything and saw a painting moment as I grouped these glass jars on my countertop.
Painting glass on Yupo is fun because of the paper’s wonderful lifting ability. I started my love of painting glass with a series of wine glasses, then martini glasses, and now glass jars.
At Last! 2020 is behind us and we can look forward to a return to being together soon.
Sunday, January 10 is our next general meeting, artist demonstration, and awards for the first WAS-H exhibit of this calendar year. Award-winning artist Cheryl Evans will be our demo artist. It will still be a ZOOM meeting and an online show, but we are eager to see you in person and get your beautiful artwork back on our walls.
Your Board of Directors has been very, very busy behind the scenes, even though our building is still quiet and awaiting our return. The nominating committee has been successful is locating members eager & willing to join us on the board, serving you, for the 2021-2022 year starting in June.
I know you will join me in a big “thank you” to outgoing Education Director, Nicole Hansen, who has relocated to Washington state. Her tireless efforts enabled us to create a vibrant offering of online classes. We will miss her very much and are sad to see her go. However, we are blessed to have member Diann Zimmerman joining the board this month. This retired corporate banker and artist is excited to continue the work arranging WAS-H’s online classes and in-person classes. She is fortunate, too, to be supported as she gets started, by our current Board Secretary and past Education Director, Laurie Hammons. And I am especially pleased that member Kathleen Cooper has stepped forward to assume our Treasurer duties, which had fallen to various directors in the fall. She is a CPA and attorney and her expertise will serve WAS-H well.
In addition to our monthly gallery exhibits, Gallery Director Paula Fowler has worked with a committee to update and expand allowable media, surfaces, and framing/mounting, and protecting artwork. You can see these changes in the January Prospectus emailed out mid-December. In the new February 2021 issue of Watercolor Artist, the Northwest Watercolor Society has an article about having done the exact same thing. Great minds think alike.
Past President & AME Director Kathleen Church has chaired a Re-Open Committee as we move forward with plans to re-open our doors, starting with a January 16 outdoor event to welcome in the new year. Past President and Historian Jan McNeill is leading this fun activity. And WAS-H artist Liz Hill will be offering a small, in-person class, following CDC protocols, on January 23. Please see the website for details.
We can hardly wait for everyone’s return!! Until then, check our website for virtual volunteer opportunities, consider joining the board of directors for 2021-2022 as a way to give back and to keep WAS-H vibrant, stay safe, and keep painting!
Beth Graham, WAS-H President
by Fred Kingwill, landscape artist and teacher
Trees are often a great challenge for watercolorists and when you try to put some snow on them, it can be just frustrating! But, there is hope…
First of all, like everything we paint, you have to really “LOOK at them”! Many see trees, particularly evergreens, like the illustration on the left. But, actually most trees have a skeleton or branches/trunk, more like the drawing on the right. The branches grow up towards the sun and eventually they begin to drop and droop down. Check it out!
Try these exercises:
First do a simple drawing of the “skeleton” of three trees in pencil.
Next, grab some MASKING FLUID, (I like Pebeo), and put some snow shapes on some of the branches. Snow is not just a round blob but it has “fingers” that drop down through the branches, etc. I use an old brush, a stick, or even a chopstick to make the snow shapes. If you use a good brush, be sure to soap it before applying the mask and clean it immediately when done to avoid your tears.
Now we are ready to paint the needles on the trees AFTER the mask has dried. Used a dark green to paint right over the mask and keep in mind that the branches mostly grow UP and the edges are SHARP. When all is dry, remove the masking and paint the white “snow” with a light blue like cerulean. Leave a few whites on the top of the snow, too, to make it look real.
Now finalize the painting with some details around the now “Blue” snow and the edges of the tree. Use a dark green or even black to do this. It should now be looking like your next holiday card! Give one final sweep with a cerulean charged one inch flat brush pulled horizontally across the bottom with a “dry brush’ technique and that should do it. If you want to some more FUN, throw some salt on the snow when wet and use a razor blade to scratch some icicles on the trees.
Here are some more ways to make the illusion of snow on trees:
Draw the trees and indicate with your pencil where you would like to have the snow show. Paint the trees leaving those “negative” spaces the color of the paper. When dry, you can go ahead and paint the snow shapes with some blue. Some think this is easier than using masking fluid.
This next one is easy. After you draw the tree “skeletons”, paint some blue snow shapes on the trees. Just the blue shapes first and then, when dry, go ahead and paint the foliage on the tree.
Finally, paint the three trees in a WET INTO WET manner. Wet the entire area first, then be careful to wait until the paper has begun to lose it shine (not too wet) before you start to paint the trees. Then, when dry. you can use white opaque paint to put some snow on the trees. You can also use a razor blade to scratch some snow or icicles…
WAY TO GO!
by Jan McNeill, past president and WAS-H historian
WE’VE MISSED YOU!!
What: SAFELY meet and greet your fellow watercolorists & friends & have fun creating watercolor cards to “Welcome 2021!!”
Where: WAS-H parking lot for some outdoor fun
When: Saturday January 16 10:00-12:00 (Rain date January 23)
What you should bring:
· Your folding chair and a surface to paint on
· Your own food & drink
· Water container
· Dress for the weather
· Face mask!
WAS-H will provide:
· 2 watercolor cards with envelopes to paint
· Large buckets outside with water for painting
Let's have some SAFE fun painting together after a long break. You take your creations home, we take pictures of you and your card and post on our website and on social media. No sign up required.
Questions? Write a comment under this blog post and we'll respond asap.
You asked us on social media "How to paint skies?" and we passed along your question to master painters of WAS-H! In this article Fred Kingwill, landscape artist, teacher and WAS-H member breaks down this complicated subject for us and gives his best tips and examples. Here are Fred's recommendations.
Exercise 1: Even Sky
Skies were made for watercolors! The mediums transparency, colorfulness, water content, soft edges, etc. makes them perfect for creating the illusion of a sky. Nothing can create more mood and atmosphere in your paintings than skies. They can tell us the weather, time of day, temperature, even the season and do it in a quick glance. Painting skies is essential for a landscape painter to master. The best thing is that they are relatively easy and usually created fast. Besides they are one of the most FUN thing to do!
Once you have your materials ready, start at the top with your paper at a 10-15 degree angle to let gravity help. Work downward with your loaded brush (I usually use a blue) and keep it wet until the same value exists. You will have to adjust the color by adding or subtracting the paint in your brush. Once you are satisfied , then STOP and do not go back into the wet sky. Just let it dry. Going back into the painting will usually result in a disaster!
Exercise 2: Uneven sky
For an UNEVEN SKY, do the same as for an even sky but with each stroke add more water to the brush with each horizontal stroke. Skies are darker at the top (think black holes in space) and lighter at the bottom (think a halo around the earth as seen from space). Keeping working while it is still wet until you have an uneven wash, then stop and leave it alone to dry.
Exercise 3: Wet into wet
OK! That was easy and may be all you need to know to paint realistic skies. But, obviously , there are more options.
For this exercise you will need to wet the entire area of the paper where you want to paint. Something about 8 inches square will do. Add a few area of blue paint to some of the wet paper and watch it flow. You will need to be sure to save some white paper area to be the clouds. While it is still wet you might want to be sure the top is darker than the bottom like we talked before.
The WET INTO WET technique is just fun!
Exercise 4: Kleenex clouds
Clouds can be made by just leaving some white areas of paper as we did in the wet into wet painting or you can use the number 1 watercolor trick of all time, KLEENEX.
First do another even wash painting with a nice blue like Ultramarine. Once that is done and while still wet, crumble up a KLEENEX and " twist and lift" it onto the wet surface removing some other paint and leaving white clouds with exciting edges. Now just take a break and watch the magic happen. Teach this to another and they just might be hooked forever.
Exercise 5: Using salt
Next trick is to make it snow with a little help from SALT.
Once again we will paint an even sky or you can try this on any wet paint surface using whatever color you want. While the surface is still wet but starting to dry but still has a shine to it, sprinkle some salt (any kind will work but all the salts leave a little different size mark) onto the paper. You might have to experiment with this a little because if the paper is too wet it will just dissolve the salt and if too dry nothing will happen. A little salt in your paintings as with a little salt in your diet will do just fine. This is one of the unique tricks for watercolors so don’t try it with oils!
Exercise 6: Dry brush
Let’s try to paint a sky with strata like clouds. The ones that look like airplane contrail and have harder edges than normal puffy like clouds.
Work on DRY paper and charge your brush (I like 1 inch flats) with a blue. Now, drag your brush horizontally across the paper in a Z like pattern keeping in mind the need to leave white paper for the clouds. Using a rough paper will help but try not to push down too hard as you are dragging the brush across the paper). This technique is call DRY BRUSH, but the name only refers to the paper not the brush!
Exercise 7: Three step sky
Now we are going to combine a few of these simple skies techniques to do what I call a "THREE STEP SKY”.
First, create a wet into wet sky and indicate clouds by either leaving white paper or using Kleenex. Let it dry. I usually use a hairdryer to speed things up.
When the wet into wet painting is dry, then wet the entire painting again with clean water. Do not scrub , but just wet the paper. Now we will do another wet into wet painting using another color right over the first painting. Again, don’t scrub but you can still use Kleenex to make sure some clouds are visible. I usually start with a cerulean blue and then use an ultramarine next but you can choose, just make the second coat darker than the first. You should allow some of the first painting to show through, too.
When the painting is dry, it’s time to do another wet into wet painting. This time we may want to use Burnt Sienna or another ( not blue) color sparingly over the previous painting(s). Don’t forget to use some Kleenex to let some white still show through and, of course, avoid scrubbing. I know you will enjoy this one and you will be able to use this for other paintings. What we have done, is also known as GLAZING and another of the great secrets to learn to paint those things you know and love or want to know and love.
With these simple trick and techniques you will be able to create exciting, expressive skies that will set the mood and the atmosphere for your painting(s). Skies should usually be painted relatively FAST and with confidence. I know you can do it!
Now that you have completed these exercises, let’s put them to good use by painting in the bottom third of the paintings with some landscapes (see my examples), There, you have it. A painting with simple skies! Way to Go!
What was your favorite of these techniques? Still have questions? Let us know in comments under this post!
We opened the WAS-H November/December virtual show on Sunday, November 15, just as we were able to take our first breaths of cool Canadian air as it pushed the heat and humidity out of Houston. On that beautiful afternoon, we were treated to 45 wonderful small treasures to grace our virtual gallery walls. Our tradition this time of year is to present small paintings (this year less than 14” on a side) with the idea of offering great items for gift giving. With that in mind, the theme for this show is Small Treasures.
Joining us this month at our Zoom reception to introduce the winning paintings was our extremely talented and articulate judge, Cheryl Evans. Cheryl is a producing artist and a Signature Member of WAS-H. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a BFA in Painting and earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She has taught for 34 years at the high school and College level. She taught at University of Houston Clear Lake and Lee College and has retired as a career art educator from public school and was named Texas Art Educator of the Year in 2012. Currently, she is sharing her love of art as watercolor painting instructor at Alvin Community College where she has taught for 5 years. She has had several one-woman shows, and her work is found in private and corporate collections around the country, and in Japan, England, Mexico, and Norway. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Texas Art Education Association. Her work ranges from landscape, to portraiture, to abstract.
I’m so pleased to be able to share Cheryl’s own words about each of our winners:
1st Place - Alison Hendry - Do You Think He Is Relaxed
“There is a wonderful use of texture and contrast as well as rich and subtle neutral grays. The grays are infused with effervescent bits of color. It fills the space so well. You can almost hear this painting purr.”
2nd Place - Lynda Jung - The Rose
“Delightful range of values applied in a loose and transparent manner and balanced so well with the use of the contour line. The composition is formally balanced with a good use of positive and negative space. “
3rd Place - Kim Granhaug - Sailor’s Delight
“Strong, fearless and dramatic use of color makes this piece a standout. The application has a buttery quality and really shows the hand of the artist. The turquoise color skips across the composition moving the eye and unifying the piece.”
Honorable Mention-Gay Paratore - Dodge Royal (blue car)
“This is an example of how an artist can use realism to arrange colors and shapes into an abstract composition. The composition works regardless of its orientation. It has a strong dominant focal point and killer leading lines.”
Honorable Mention - Hiep Nguyen -Twilight Impression
“This is a gem of a painting. The freshness of the loose and juicy wet on wet washes in the sky and the watery world below leaves use to speculate and construct our own middle earth as the artists suggest the shoreline, boats and piers with an efficient use of line. This painting is engaging and intriguing.”
Honorable Mention - Susan Tadlock Bond - Finally Asleep
“The facial expressions draw the viewer into the visual story. The skin tones are varied and not overworked. One of the key elements is the break up of space between that expertly applied gradual wash in the background and the two figures in the foreground. This is a very personal painting and it makes me want to know more about the child and the father.”
Please take a minute to see what our winners have to say about their painting in a separate blog posting, Winner’s Words.
We also owe a big thanks to our crew of virtual-gallery volunteers who, with tenacity and good humor, continued to push the limits of their technical skills in order to make this show possible. They are learning and feeling so good that they can keep WAS-H’s life-blood flowing until we are back in our building and are able to enjoy the camaraderie we all miss so much. Many thanks go to Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geigerman, Karen Stopnicki, Nancy McMillan, Martin Butler, Kathleen Church and, of course, our president, Beth Graham.
The take-in for our next show starts on January 2, 2021. The prospectus is available on the website. Please show your support for WAS-H and share your latest work!
The small-pieces show is one of my favorites at WAS-H as it brings me back to the beginning when I was too frightened to paint large, and small was my comfort zone. We spent four weeks hiding in Snowmass this summer and I brought along some 9x12 pads of Arches 140# paper to play with. Since the buckling annoyed me, I learned how to stretch these small pieces of paper with gummed tape, staples and gatorboard when we returned. Do You Think He is Relaxed? is the first piece I have painted on stretched 140# paper. What an enormous pleasure it is. I use Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith and M. Graham paints most of the time and am in love with da Vinci maestro sable brushes. It was a challenge to change the color of the big chair that Tonka is sleeping on, but Carla Gauthier has said in many classes “Value trumps color”, so I kept repeating the mantra. Tonka, my dearly beloved boy passed away two years ago, and I have painted him for three images that have spoken to three different judges. I was tickled, surprised and thrilled with this award and think he must be my image mascot. Cheryl Evans was spot on about rubbing his belly. He loved that and sleeping in the sun.
Dodge Royal is one of the smallest car paintings that I have done. I usually paint a full sheet of Arches 300# and don't tape it down, so I can move it around to make it easier to do all the straight lines and the curves. I fell in love with painting cars by going with Richard to the Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance car exhibition. It was not the cars themselves, but the reflections in the cars that captivated my attention. I earned several of my signature memberships with car paintings: the National Watercolor Society (three $1000 awards), the San Diego Watercolor Society where I have shown with them in several International shows in Italy and Spain, and recently I received my signature status with the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies. All of these were acquired by entering car paintings. My prints of cars are for sale at the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine. My WAS-H elite, Texas Watercolor Society, and the National Society of Artists (which I founded) signature memberships were acquired with a variety of subject matter.
Lately I am winning more awards on my portraits (see the WAS-H Membership Show, Texas Art Supply Award and the Texas Watercolor Society, $1000.00 Show award). I am doing portraits in pastels and oils also, but I love the freshness of watercolor and how the paints glow using the white paper to reflect light and color. During COVID-19, I miss seeing family and friends, but I have been painting almost every day and some of it outside in my woods. You can see three of my plein-air paintings on exhibit at G. Lee Gallery on the Strand in Galveston where I show on a regular basis.
Honorable Mention: Hiep Nguyen, Twilight Impression
I painted this Twilight Impression from my memory of an evening outing at the waterfront in Vancouver two years ago. I didn't use any photo for reference for this painting. I just wanted to express the ethereal feeling that I had at that time on the harbor of Vancouver Island. I used a limited palette with wet-on-wet techniques to recreate the twilight atmosphere and added a few scratched marks to pull the viewer eyes to the focus area.
Asleep, Finally is a watercolor composition featuring my son Casey and granddaughter Zoey.
He had been reading her books and finally she fell asleep in his arms, seemingly to his surprise.
This idea was initially conceptualized for a watercolor contest at the 2020 Taos Watercolor Workshop called Surprise Me!, but due to COVID-19 the workshop was cancelled this year, so this sweet painting has been sitting on my desk for months with me trying to decide on its next destination. The WAS-H virtual show, Little Treasures, just seemed like the right place for my tiny family treasure.
I am very pleased and honored to be recognized by WAS-H.
Drawing and painting portraits began for me in my high school Art class, along with influences from my family: my grandmother was a pastel artist, my great grandmother was a calligrapher and my great-great grandmother was a portrait artist, so art definitely runs in my blood. To be an artist you need nurturing and, thank God, I had that from my family, and now with five grandchildren maybe one of them will rise up to carry on the lineage.
We were saddened to learn about the passing of Ruth Corinne Meyer Wilson, an artist and a member of our society. Please read full obituary at this link. Our sincere condolences go to Ruth's family and friends.
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