night sky painting

© Copyright 2013 – Presentc

Size: 20″ x 16″
Support: Gallery wrap stretched canvas
Description: A night sky painting depicting the moon setting beyond the horizon. This representation does not require a frame as the painted image extends all the way around the edges of the painting.

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Artist Comments: A moonset is when the moon is full and dips just below the western horizon near dawn. Ever since man first looked up at the stars, he has been fascinated by the big sphere that hangs in the night sky above us and this particular artist is no exception. My favorite time to take a walk is in the late evening just before turning in for the night. I absolutely love looking up into the night sky and seeing the stars and the moon on a cloudless or almost cloudless night.

FYI…Did you know the common belief the moon has a dark side is a myth? The truth is both sides of the Moon see the same amount of sunlight. The Moon rotates around on its own axis about once every 27 days. This is approximately the same amount of time it takes to orbit the Earth which means the same side is always facing the Earth. Astronomers call this phenomenon “synchronous rotation.” Only about 59% of the moon is ever visible to Earth over the course of an entire orbit. The rest of the 41% — the part many call “dark” — is the part we never ever get to see from Earth. The “far side” of the Moon has only been seen by the human eye from a spacecraft.

Art Terms — A

From “ABC Art” to “Atmospheric Perspective”

ABC art
A 1960’s art movement and style that attempts to use a minimal number of textures, colors, shapes and lines to create simple three-dimensional structures. Also known as minimalism.
abstract artAbstract art
Art that looks as if it contains little or no recognizable or realistic forms from the physical world. Focus is on formal elements such as colors, lines, or shapes. Artists often “abstract” objects by changing, simplifying, or exaggerating what they see. Click for more information about abstract art.
Abstract expressionism
Art that rejects true visual representation. It has few recognizable images with great emphasis on line, color, shape, texture, value; putting the expression of the feelings or emotions of the artist above all else.
Academic art
A style of painting and sculpture heavily influenced by nineteenth century European academies of art. The academies were very conservative resisting advent-garde innovations and expressions of modern art.
To stress, single out as important. As applied to art it is the emphasis given to certain elements in a painting that allows them to attract more attention. Details that define an object or piece of art.
A process of increasing an art collection by addition; something added to what you already have (“the art collection grew through accession”).
Acrylic paint
A fast-drying synthetic paint made from acrylic resin. Acrylic is a fast-drying water-based “plastic” paint valued for its versatility and clean up with soap and water.
Aerial perspective
Refers to creating a sense of depth in painting by imitating the way the atmosphere makes distant objects appear less distinct and more bluish than they would be if nearby. Also known as atmospheric perspective.
Aerial view
Refers to viewing a subject from above, looking downward. Also called “birds-eye view”.
Alla prima
The method of oil painting in which the desired effects of the final painting are achieved in the first application of paint as opposed to the technique of covering the canvas in layers with the final painting being achieved at the end.
Analogous colors
Any set of three or five colors that are closely related in hue(s). They are usually adjacent (next) to each other on the color wheel.
Applied art
The use of the principles and elements of design to create functional pieces of works of art.
Approximate symmetry
The use of forms which are similar on either side of a central axis. They may give a feeling of the exactness or equal relationship but ar sufficiently varied to prevent visual monotony.
The completed work of an artist which is the expression of creativity or imagination, or both that portrays a mood, feeling or tells a story; works of art collectively. For more information see blog article titled “What is Fine Art?
Art brut
French for “raw art”, the art of children and outsiders (naïve artists and the mentally ill); actually, anyone not producing art for profit or recognition.
Art deco
A style of design and decoration popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s characterized by designs that are geometric and use highly intense colors, to reflect the rise of commerce, industry and mass production.
Art movement
A group of artists who agree on general principles or ideals regarding artistic styles and tendencies within a specific period of time. For more information see Art Movements From A – Z.
Art nouveau
A decorative art movement that emerged in the late nineteenth century; art characterized by dense asymmetrical ornamentation in sinuous forms, it is often symbolic and of an erotic nature.
Art period
A distinct phase, stage or juncture in the development of the creative work of an artist, groups of artists or art movement.
A practitioner in the arts, generally recognized as a professional by critics and peers.
A text based visual art created from 95 printable characters that uses computers for presentation. ASCII art is created using any text editor program and requires a fixed-width font such as Courier for presentation. For more info.
Ashcan school
A realist art movement in early twentieth century America best known for depicting everyday life in the poorer neighborhoods of New York City.
Assemblage art
A form of sculptured art, either three-dimensional or two-dimensional, composed of “found” objects and arranged in a such a way as to create a work of art. These objects can be anything organic or man-made. The origin of this particular art form dates back to Pablo Picasso, a well known cubist artist.
Astronomical art
See “space art“.
Asymmetrical balance
Placement of non-identical forms to either side of a balancing point in such a way that the two sides seem to be of the same visual weight.
Atmospheric perspective
A technique used by painters for representing three-dimensional space on a flat two-dimensional surface by creating the illusion of depth, or recession within a painting or drawing. Atmospheric perspective suggests that objects closer to the viewer are sharper in detail, color intensity, and value contrast than those farther away. As objects move closer to the horizon they gradually fade to a bluish gray and details blur, imitating the way distant objects appear to the human eye. Also called aerial perspective.

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Updated: 16 December 2018

Art Terms — B

From “Balance” to “Brushwork”

One of the Good Design Principles. Balance in art is a feeling of equality in weight, attention, or attraction of the various elements within a composition as a means of accomplishing unity. Read more.
Barbizon school
An art movement of the 19th century formed by a group of French landscape painters who sought to promote a more realistic and informal approach in their nature paintings. They were heavily influenced by 17th-century Dutch genre painting and  proponents of outdoor painting.
An art movement of the 17th and 18th centuries Europe whose artworks, music and architecture were characterized by exaggerated ornate detail. The style, which was popular with and supported by the Catholic Church, began around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread throughout most of Europe.
Birds-eye view
Seeing from a point of view that is from an altitude or from a distance; a comprehensive view in a downward direction; also called an “aerial view”.
Bitmap image
A pixel-based image (.BMP) with one bit of color information per pixel, also known as a bitmapped image. The only colors displayed in a bitmapped image are black and white. Its quality decreases when the image is enlarged.
Bristol board
A high quality heavy weight drawing paper, sometimes made with cotton fiber prepared or glued together, usually with a caliper thickness of 0.006″ and up, used for many types of two-dimensional artwork, including lettering.bright art brush
Bright brush
Refers to a brush that has the same shape as a “flat” however the hairs are not as long as those on the flat brush. (See illustration).
A tool used to apply paints and inks to a surface, consisting of hairs, or bristles held in place by a ferrule attached to a handle. The quality of the hair determines the brush’s quality and cost. Each type of brush has a specific purpose, and different fibers are used for different mediums.
The mark left by a loaded (filled) brush on a surface. Brushstrokes can be distinguished by their direction, thickness, TEXTURE, and quality. Some artists purposefully obscure individual brushstrokes to achieve a smooth surface. Other artists make their brushstrokes obvious to reveal the process of painting or to express movement or emotion.
The distinctive technique in which an artist uses to apply paint with a brush onto a medium, such as canvas.

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UPDATED: 31 May 2016

Art Terms — C

From “Calligraphy” to “Cubism”


example of calligraphy
A distinctive style of artistic handwriting created by using special pen nibs that allow a calligrapher to vary the thickness of a letter’s line elements; an elegant, decorative writing, developed to an art form itself, used to enhance the artistic appeal and visual beauty of handwritten papers and manuscripts.
A heavy, closely woven fabric; an oil painting on canvas fabric; the support used for an acrylic or oil painting that is typically made of linen or cotton, stretched very tightly and tacked onto a wooden frame. Linen is considered far superior to the heavy cotton for a canvas. Click for more information on the different types of canvas available for painting.
Center of interest
An emphasized area of the composition. Also referred to as the focal point.
The art of making objects of clay and firing them in a kiln. Wares of earthenware and porcelain, as well as sculpture are made by ceramists. Enamel is also a ceramic technique. Ceramic materials may be decorated with slip, engobe, or glaze, applied by a number of techniques, including resist, mishima, and snag gam. Pots made can be made by the coil, slab, some other manual technique, or on a potter’s wheel.
Compressed burned wood used for drawing.
A city landscape; a painting of a city; in art it is the urban equivalent of a landscape. Also called urban landscape. Click for more information about cityscapes.
A form of art derived from the study of Greek and Roman styles characterized by harmony, balance, and serenity. In contrast, the Romantic Movement gave free rein to the artist’s imagination and to the love of the exotic.
process colors - cyan, magenta, yellow, blackCMYK
The abbreviation for cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). These are the four primary colors used in process printing.
Introduced by the Cubists, the technique of creating a work of art by adhering flat articles such as paper, fabrics, string or other materials to a flat surface such as a canvas whereby a three-dimensional result is achieved.
A visual attribute of things that results from the light they emit or transmit or reflect; the visual response to the wavelengths of light, identified as red, blue, green, etc.; primary and secondary colors; warm, cool, and neutral colors, color value; hue; and intensity. For more information about color, see “Basic Art Element — Color“.
Color permanence
Refers to a pigment’s lasting power. Tubes and other containers of paint are sometimes labeled with a code indicating a color’s degree of permanence.
Letter code Degree of color permanence
AA Highest
A Standard
C Less than permanent, though fairly durable
C Fugitive
Color separation
A traditional photographic process of separating artwork into component films of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black in preparation for printing to ultimately create a full-color printed product. Recent computer innovations have obviated the need for separated film negatives in certain applications.
basic color wheel Color wheel
A round diagram that shows the placement of colors in relationship to each other. It is from the color wheel that “color schemes” are defined. For more information on the color wheel.
Commercial art
Refers to art that is made for the purposes of commerce. The term is somewhat obsolete and is currently being replaced in many colleges with the term “Visual Communication.”
Refers to the act of hiring someone to execute a certain work of art or set of artworks.
Complementary colors
Two colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel. When placed next to one another, complementary colors are intensified and often appear to vibrate. When mixed, brown or gray is created. Red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and violet have the greatest degree of contrast. Red-violet and yellow-green, red-orange and blue-green, and yellow-orange and blue-violet are also complementary colors.
The arrangement of the design elements within the design area; the ordering of visual and emotional experience to give unity and consistency to a work of art and to allow the observer to comprehend its meaning.
Computer graphics
Refers to visual images made with the assistance of computers. Computer graphics are often made with software called drawing, painting, illustrating and photographic programs or applications.
The difference between elements or the opposition to various elements. A principle of good design. See more info.
Cool colorsCool color
Colors whose relative visual temperatures make them seem cool. Cool colors generally include green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, and violet.
The cutting out of extraneous parts of an image, usually a photograph; excluding part of a photo or illustration to show only the portion desired or to fit a given space requirement.
A 20th-century French art movement that uses two-dimensional geometric shapes to depict three-dimensional organic forms; a style of painting created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque whereby the artist breaks down the natural forms of the subjects into geometric shapes and creates a new kind of pictorial space.
C is for CyanCyan
One of the four process colors used in printing, or CMYK, the C is for cyan. Cyan is also a primary color along with magenta, yellow and black.

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UPDATED: 02 February 2017

Art Terms — D

From “Decorative Arts” to “Drawing”

Decorative arts
Collective term for such art forms as ceramics, enamels, furniture, glass, ivory, metalwork and textiles, especially when they take forms used as interior decoration.
A French word meaning “paste up”. The Victorian craft of cutting out motifs from paper, gluing them to a surface and covering the glued on paper with as many layers of varnish as is required to give a completely smooth finish.
Depth of field
In photography, the area in front of and behind the focused point that is sharp. A shallow depth of field is used in portraits to provide a soft backdrop, whilst a greater depth of field is useful for landscapes to ensure everything from the foreground to the background is in focus. Shorter (wide angle) lenses and smaller apertures increase depth of field.
The arrangement of the design elements to create a single effect. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity.
The process of relating the elements whether they are similar or contrasting and visually arranging an interesting unity with them using the design principles.
The emphasis placed on a particular area or characteristic of a work, with other areas or aspects given subordinate or supporting roles.
Double exposure
A technique used in film and photography to expose two images onto one negative, or sheet of photographic paper.
Double loading
Refers to loading a brush with two colors side by side. This is a technique typical of tole and other kinds of decorative painting. Also known as “side loading”.
The act of representing an image on a surface by means of adding lines and shades, as with a pencil, crayon, pen, chalk, pastels, etc. Also refers to an illustration that has been drawn by hand.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016

Art Terms — E

From “Easel” to “Expressionism”

An upright support (generally a tripod) used for displaying something. It is most often used to hold up an artist’s canvas while the painter is working or to hold a completed painting for exhibition.
The deletion of non-essential details to reveal the essence of a form. Also regarded as an element of good design. Click here for more information about this art principle.
Egg tempera
A medium created by mixing pure, ground pigments with egg yolk. This was a very common medium before the invention of oil paints.
Elements of art
Basic components of art-making. These key elements are color, form, line, shape, texture, and value. In any form of art, at least of one of these elements is used. For more information about this subject, please see the discussion on the basic elements of art.
The stress placed on a single area of a work or a unifying visual theme. For more information, see Good Design Principle: Emphasis.
En plein air
French for “in open air,” used to describe paintings that have been executed outdoors, rather than in the studio.
An impression made from an etched plate; an intaglio process in which an image is scratched through an acid-resistant coating on a metal plate. The plate is then dipped in acid which eats into the exposed surface.
A public showing of a piece or a collection of objects. Also called an exhibit.
Post-World War I European art movement that emphasized the expression of inner experience rather than solely realistic portrayal. This art form emphasizes the expression of subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in the artist rather than objective reality. It is characterized by distorted lines and shapes and exaggerated colors for emotional impact. Vincent van Gogh is esteemed as the forerunner of this particular movement.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016

Art Terms — F

From “Ferrule” to “Fugitive Colors”

Refers to the metal or plastic device that that aligns and anchors paintbrush bristles or hairs in an adhesive. The ferrule is attached to the handle by crimping or by binding wires. (See brush illustration.)
Brushes used to create soft edges, blend colors, and has the shape of a flower petal or leaf. (See filbert brush illustration.)
A technique used to produce fine intricate patterns in metal. Often used for metal beads, clasps, and bead caps.
Fine art
Art created for purely aesthetic expression, communication, or contemplation. Painting and sculpture are the best known of the fine arts. For more information see the blog “What is Fine Art?”
A liquid, similar to varnish, which is usually sprayed over a finished piece of artwork to better preserve it and prevent smudging. Artwork media requiring fixative include drawings done in pencil, charcoal, and pastel.
Flat brush
flat brush imageA brush with a flat shaped end like a screwdriver. (See illustration.)
Foam core
A strong, stiff, resilient, and lightweight board of polystyrene laminated with paper on both of its sides used as backing for art prints before framing. Also referred to as “foam board”.
Focal point
A specific area, element or principle that dominates a work of art; the area in a work which the eye is most compellingly drawn. The viewer’s eye is usually drawn there first.
Folk art
Art created by individuals who have had no formal, academic training in art, but whose works part of an established tradition of style and craftsmanship. It is characterized by a naive style, in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed.
In typography, a complete set of characters in a particular size and style of type. This includes the letter set, the number set, and all of the special character and diacritical marks you get by pressing the shift, option, or command/control keys.
The field of font design. A person who designs fonts is a “fontographer”.
The volume and shape of a three-dimensional work, perhaps including unfilled areas that are integral to the work as a whole.
A form of perspective used to create the illusion of an object receding strongly into the distance or background by shortening the lines with which that object is drawn. To shorten an object to make it look as if it extends backwards into space.
fractal art illustrationA mathematically generated pattern that is reproducible at any magnification or reduction. A geometric pattern that is repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and/or surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. (See illustration.)
Something made to enclose a picture or a mirror; enclose in a frame, as of a picture.
The technique of blending wet plaster with water based paint. As the plaster dries it becomes a lasting surface base. The term applies to the technique as well as the painting itself.
Fugitive colors
Short-lived pigments capable of fading or changing, especially with exposure to light, to atmospheric pollution, or when mixed with certain substances.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016

Art Terms — G

From “Gallery” to “Grisaille”

A room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited.
From the French word meaning “kind” or “genus.” A realistic style of painting that depict scenes of everyday life. Dutch artworks of peasant and tavern scenes are considered typical genre paintings. Click for more information about genre art.
A mixture of plaster, chalk, or gypsum bound together with a glue which is applied as a ground or coating to surfaces in order to give them the correct properties to receive paint. Gesso can also be built up or molded into relief designs, or carved. Click for more information about gesso.
(Pronounced “zee-clay”) a printmaking process usually on an IRIS inkjet printer to make reproductions of a photograph of a painting; the printer can produce a very wide range of colors resulting in prints that are of very high quality.
An acronym for “Graphic Interchange Format”, an image format type generated specifically for computer use. Its resolution is usually very low (72 dpi, or that of your computer screen), making it undesirable for printing purposes.
Gild the lily
A phrase meaning to add unnecessary ornamentation to something already beautiful.
The application of a gold finish. It can be achieved by applying gold leaf, or by using metallic powders.
A thin layer of translucent acrylic or oil paint applied to all or part of a painting, to modify the tone or color underneath. Glazing is the process of using this technique.
Gold leaf
An extremely thin tissue of gold used for gilding.
Good design principles
The basic building blocks an artist uses to organize or arrange the various elements that comprise a design or composition within a work of art. The principles are: Balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, proportion, space, unity, and visual economy. Also referred to as the principles of design or the principles of composition. For more information on this subject, please see the discussion on each of the composition principles.
A type of watercolor paint, made heavier and more opaque by the addition of a white pigment (chalk, Chinese white, etc.) in a gum arabic mixture. This results in a stronger color than ordinary watercolor.
Graphic art
Two-dimensional art forms such as drawing, engraving, etching and illustration in their various forms.
Graphic design
The applied art of arranging image and text to communicate a message. It may be applied in any media, such as print, digital media, motion pictures, animation, product decoration, packaging, and signs. Graphic design as a practice can be traced back to the origin of the written word, but only in the late 19th century did it become identified as a separate entity.
A soft, black, lustrous mineral made of carbon used in lead pencils, paints, crucibles, and as a lubricant.
Refers to the range of gray tones between black and white (see illustration).


grid enlargingRefers to a series of crossed lines that meet to form a boxed pattern used in the predetermined placement of photographs and graphic elements on a canvas. Useful in creating compositions.
Grid enlarging
The process of using a grid to enlarge an image; for copying very precisely, another image, on the same or a different scale, usually larger; used in scaling an image by drawing (see illustration). For more information on how to use this method, see article titled “Using a Grid to Enlarge and Transfer an Image to Canvas“.
Monochrome painting generally employing shades of gray executed in a black pigment and an inert white pigment in oil, gouache or tempera; a stained glass window incorporating muted tones as opposed to bright colors.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016

Principles of Good Design: Contrast

contrast design elementAnother important principle of good design is contrast. This is principle that is often applied when an artist wants to add visual interest, excitement and drama to an art piece.

Defining Contrast

Contrast in art refers to the positioning of opposing components in a work of art. It occurs when two or more related elements are strikingly different. The greater the difference the greater the contrast.

Opposing Elements in Art

The key to working with contrast is to make sure the differences are obvious. The most common ways of creating contrast are by creating differences in:

  • Color — complimentary colors on the color wheel, i.e. red vs. green, blue vs. orange, yellow vs. violet
  • Hue — saturated vs. muted colors
  • Movement — fast vs. slow
  • Shape — organic vs. geometric shapes
  • Size — large vs. small shapes
  • Space — positive vs. negative
  • Temperature — warm vs. cool
  • Texture — rough vs. smooth
  • Value — light vs. dark

The Significance of Contrast

Contrast is significant because it adds variety to the total design and creates unity. It draws the viewer’s eye into the painting and helps to guide the viewer around the art piece.

Contrast also adds visual interest. Most designs require a certain amount of contrast, if there is too much similarity of the components in any design, it will become monotonous. Too little contrast results in a design that is bland and uninteresting to view. However, don’t over do it as too much contract can cause the design to be confusing. It takes just the right amount of contrast to engage the viewer’s participation in comparing various components of the work. For instance, the viewer will compare light and dark areas of a painting, wide lines and thin lines, light-weight forms and heavy forms, filled spaces and unfilled spaces, etc.

Some Examples of the Effective Use of Contrast

contrast in artThe contrast in the illustration coffee pot and cups is quite obvious. Notice the contrast of the light background (wall) with dark foreground (table cloth) and the contrast of the dark shadows on the tea pot and cup against the wall and with the lights of the same objects against a dark window.

There is also a contrast of thin and thick lines in the napkin, straight and curved lines, and don’t miss the contrast created by the use of geometric shapes (coffee pot and cups) with organic shapes (steam and clouds). The dark steam is also contrasted with the light clouds off in the distance.

design elementIn the illustration of the lady and parrot is a good example of contrast between lights and darks. A contrast of color exists between the red parrot and white dress. Also notice the contrast in the roundness of shapes in the foreground against the flatness of the dark background. Contrast of texture is also implied by the softness of the silk dress and soft feathers of the bird against the hard, flat background.

Contrast in this painting is much more subtle. There is contrast in texture. Notice the hard texture of the fence in the background as contrasted with the softness of the butterflies and kittens. Also a contrast exists between the soil and the foliage. The kittens themselves have a contrast depicted in their colors verses the color of the fence in the background and even with each other. And the red flowers verses green grass promotes a contrast of complimentary colors.


  1. Why is it important to include contrast in a composition?
  2. How can contrast be used to create unity in a design?

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

Art Terms — I

From “Icon” to “Industrial Design”

An artistic visual representation or symbol of anything considered holy and divine, such as God, saints or deities. An icon could be a painting (including relief painting), sculpture, or mosaic. Also refers to a little picture on a computer screen that represents the various functions of the computer. Generally the user clicks on an icon to start an application or function.
To create designs and pictures for books, magazines, or other print or electronic media to make clear or explain the text or show what happens in a story.
A visualization such as drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form. The aim of an Illustration is to elucidate or decorate a story, poem or piece of textual information (such as a newspaper article) by providing a visual representation of something described in the text.
Illustration board
Heavy paper or card appropriate as a support for pencil, pen, watercolor, collage, etc.
A graphic artist who specializes in enhancing written text by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text. Also refers to a computer illustration program developed by Adobe Systems, Inc.
Implied line
A line in a work that is subtlety perceived by the viewer but has no physical form; the overall flow of one line into another in a work, with continuation from one area to the next suggested by their common direction and/or juxtaposition. Click for more information about implied lines.
A loose spontaneous style of painting that originated in France about 1870. The impressionist style of painting is characterized chiefly by concentration on the general impression produced by a scene or object and the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light. Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro were considered leaders of this artistic movement. Click for more information about impressionism art.
Industrial design
The design of the mass-produced products of our everyday environment, from sinks and furniture to computers.

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UPDATED: 25 April 2016