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Old 01-01-2009, 08:50 AM
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ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Portraits – Lesson 2: The Mouth (and More)

Hi! And welcome to Lesson 2 of the Portrait and Figure Fundamentals classroom! My name is Don (a.k.a. DAK723) and I am your teacher/host.

It’s time to move on to lesson 2, but if you are still on lesson 1, that’s OK.

Here’s a link to lesson 1, which focused on the eyes and nose:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=532971

Remember, you can work at your own speed. Lesson 2 will focus on mouths, ears and hair. Once again, let’s start with some observations.

Part 1: Observations

The Mouth

“A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.” Quote attributed to John Singer Sargent, one of the greatest portrait painters in history.

I think the reason for the frustration painters feel with painting mouths, is due to the flexibility of the mouth, and the variety of expressions that are possible due to that flexibility. So let’s start with the mouth without much expression. In other words, just the lips...without much expression!






My observations on the lips:

Seen from directly in front (A) the top lip is usually narrower than the bottom lip. The top lip is often shaped like a flattened “M”.

The top lip is usually in shadow when lit from above because it slopes inward toward the bottom lip (D).

The lips follow the curve of the face and the teeth, so when seen from above or below (B) they are curved.

The philtrum is the central depression above the top lip. It is more pronounced in some people and more noticeable with side-lighting (compare B and C). It is useful in locating the lips in relation to the nose (and vice versa)!

One common mistake is to make the lips too red. Unfortunately, my examples are all women with lipstick, but the lips can be almost as pale as the flesh tones. Judge the color carefully.

Now, beyond the lips are the...teeth....

I spent a lot of time looking for portraits with teeth visible and just couldn’t find much. Now, most of my art books are of past masters like Renoir and the previously mentioned John Singer Sargent. They did a lot of portraits, but they probably didn’t paint a lot of teeth because:

A) They painted from life and the sitter couldn’t be expected to hold a smile for a few hours.

B) Portraits had to be respectable and serious.

C) Even the great painters couldn’t or didn’t want to paint teeth any more than we do.

D) All of the above!

Of course, using photo reference allows us to freeze the smile in place for all eternity.





My observations on teeth:

Depending on the lighting, much or most of the smile is often in shadow (A & C). As the teeth curve back into the mouth (arrow) the shadow becomes deeper and more pronounced. So don’t just make all the teeth light. In example (B) the teeth are in the light. Notice that the top teeth are essentially one shape (the bottom teeth would be too if they were visible). The value change in-between teeth is almost, or entirely, negligible. My advice on painting teeth would be to think of the row of teeth as one shape, not separate teeth. Look closely at the values for that shape. Add a suggestion of the individual teeth with a small value change between teeth here and there, if necessary.

The Ear





The ear usually has fairly well defined light and shadow areas so there is no reason to try to memorize the individual pieces. Because the ears are usually of secondary importance in a portrait, the main question that the artist needs to answer is – how detailed or how simplified (or abstract) do I paint them?



Hair



My observations on hair:

The dark haired model on the left has very little variation in value, aside from the highlights. (The highlight - directly above her hand - is similar to the way a highlight appears on a ribbon and is detailed below.) There are some middle values, but for the most part, the dark hair can be almost one large shape. The light haired model shows that you still need dark values, even with light hair. Even the hair that is in the light has some suggestions of dark hair beneath, since the hair beneath is in shadow.

Painting hair follows the usual procedure of starting with the big shapes, identify the light and dark value areas, and think about details last! Don’t worry about individual hairs although at the end you might want to put in a few strokes that represent the direction and movement of individual hairs or groups of hairs.

Borrowing a concept from James Gurney, famous illustrator and painter (author of the Dinotopia series of books), we’ll think of an area or group of hairs as a ribbon. The highlight will go across the hair, roughly opposite to the hair direction.

Here’s what I mean:






Add a few strokes that go with the hair direction and you are done.


Here is a little hair demo to illustrate the concept just described.






Step 1: I just block in the darkest hair color.

Step 2: I add the band of lighter valued hair. The direction of the light shape is across the direction of the individual strands of hair. I have, however, painted in that shape with strokes that run with the direction of the hair. I do not make the light band as solid as in the ribbon example as there will be strands of hair that are in shadow running through the light area.

Step 3: Blend and soften the two values, if desired. I have also softened the outer top and side edges of the hair all around, as this part of the hair is “turning-away” from my eye. Surfaces or planes that turn away have soft edges, a term and concept that are important in creating roundness to your forms.

Step 4: Add a lighter highlight.




Step 5: Blend and soften the highlights, if desired.

Step 6: Add some additional strands of hair with a middle value. I have made these strands longer and in some cases taken them through both the dark and the light areas.

Step 7: Hair has lots of colors – often reflecting almost every color in the surroundings. They could be added as additional strands. In this case, I have added some contrasting cool greens to add a little zing! A few light green-yellow strands in the highlights and a few dark green strands in the dark areas. I have created the strongest dark and light contrast in the area closest to us which brings it forward. The sharpest lines are also in the hair that is the closest to us to help bring it forward. The parts of the head that are rounding away from us (as mentioned earlier) are softer with less contrast.

For more on the hair as a ribbon concept, here is a link to James Gurney’s blog:

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/20...on-secret.html

My hair demonstration is actually fairly detailed as far as hair goes. Hair can often be represented with far less detail. Let’s take a look at how some of the Masters painted hair.




These are from Mary Cassatt. (Although Cassatt was a very fine pastellist, these examples are all oil paintings.) Notice in the first painting, the hair is almost one dark value with just a hint of lighter values. The middle painting has hair done fairly simply – perhaps no more than 3 or 4 values. The light haired child has some very dark values in the hair. The dark haired woman has a nice example of the “ribbon” highlight. The third example also has a nice “ribbon” highlight (actually 3 separate highlights) and has more colors mixed in.



Here are two Renoirs (also in oil). These represent a fairly simple application using one dominant value (and color) and a fairly simple suggestion of detail. The long red hair has basically 3 values – hair in the light, hair in shadow, and the highlight. A few longer vertical strokes of dark, and the directional strokes for the highlight, are all that is needed to represent the hair direction and give the feeling of long hair.

One more, more detailed this time, by Bouguereau (oil):


Last edited by DAK723 : 01-01-2009 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:07 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Part 2: Demonstrations

OK, let’s move on to my demonstrations. Last lesson, I mentioned the importance of values. The term value refers to the degree of dark or light. If the values are right, you can use almost any color and things are still recognizable. I recommend starting every painting (regardless of subject) by mapping out the dark (shadow) shapes and the light shapes. The fact that I begin with the dark areas does not mean they are more important. The light areas are not just “filling in the space” between the dark shapes. The shapes of the light areas are just as important as the shadow shapes. The reason I begin with the dark shapes is that it seems easier and more natural. Like most people, when I began to draw (in my distant past!) I used pencil on white paper. On white paper, you only draw the darks. When painting in pastel (or anything but watercolor, where the white of the paper is often left untouched) the shapes of the light must be painted. For many people who began their art studies by drawing dark on white, accurately depicting the light shapes can be more difficult and requires more concentration. (It does for me!)

Start with the largest shapes, areas or masses. Avoid the temptation to get into details until the later stages. Simplify the values!

Once again, in these examples I started with a medium dark pastel (the second from the left in my group of pastels that I used) and block in the dark values. Then using a light pastel, I block in the light areas. I blended or used some of the intermediate pastels for the in-between values and added the darkest values. I then added the lightest lights last. You can use any order, but I would recommend doing the lightest lights at the end. As my painting progresses, I might add more color to blend in with, partially or completely cover areas that are already painted. If I already have the correct value down on paper, it is easier to choose a color that has an equal or similar value.

The above examples are done on gray velour using Girault pastels. The photo of the ear is more reddish than in real life!

My pastels:





The highlights on the lips were painted last, on top of the darker color that was there. Lights, in general, and especially the highlights should be done last for a couple reasons. First, you want the lightest lights to remain un-smudged, or uncontaminated with pastel dust from colors you apply later. Secondly, lights and highlights are on the topmost or uppermost layer of skin and should appear to be “on top.” The best way to create that illusion is by literally placing them on your topmost pastel layer.

Notice that the “line” separating the lips is not solid from one end to the other. Although we are concentrating on areas and shapes rather than lines, there are times when you have a thin linear shape! And, of course, even though we are not using that approach in this class, pastels can be used in a more linear, drawing-style way. Having line variation, and including areas of “lost and found” edges (where the line disappears, or where similar values meet without a defined edge) give a more realistic and less “cartoonish” look to your work.




A couple more examples. These are taken only to the point where the shapes and values are established. Additional colors and more refinement could be added in additional stages, if desired. Looking at them side by side with the reference, I see a number of things that could be corrected, but my intent is to show the basics of using values to model the shapes. I suppose it would have been a good idea to have the photo next to my artwork while I worked, too, but I did my examples looking at the computer screen. Notice how I have at least a couple “excuses” ready for anyone who might comment on the lack of accuracy!

Feel free to share your best excuses that you have used when your paintings don’t work out as well as planned!

Part 3: Let’s enter the Laboratory for our ...“experiments”:

Here’s our first experiment for this class. Choose three (3) pastels – one light, one middle value, one dark. Avoid “flesh tones” or earth colors. Using just those three pastels, paint any or all the features that we have covered in our first 2 lessons. Questions we will discuss include, can you use any color as long as the values are right, and can we blend pastels to create additional values?

Now, the reference you use will play a large part in how difficult this might be. A photo with fewer intermediate values (check out the man with the black jacket below) might be a bit easier than a photo with lots of subtle values. I will try the woman (from terence p) from the reference library, which does have lots of subtle values. But as I have mentioned, we always want to simplify. Since I have only 3 values, I have little choice!



Stage 1 – Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my pastels at the start, but you can see them later! I am using my middle value pastel, a dull, grayish purple pastel. I am blocking in the shadow shapes in a fairly general way. By varying the pressure of my strokes, I can create some variety of values already. I am using velour paper, which allows a wide variety of pressure of my strokes because it is soft.



Stage 2 – Here you can see my pastels! I have blocked in the lights with my light value pastel. For the most part, since my paper color is a value between the shadow and the light, I am letting the paper show through for now. This is one reason that a mid-tone paper works well with portraits. If you have thin layers of pastel, which might be somewhat transparent, or no pastel at all in particular spots, the color and/or value of the paper might be just right!



Stage 3 – I am now adding my darkest value – a dark blue. I happen to notice that her left eye was too high. I lower it fairly easily because I do not have much pastel on the paper yet that I have to cover. At this stage, I also begin refining and blending, using all three pastels. My dark blue pastel is a very intense blue. This is making my shadows look wrong – because shadows are almost always, not just darker, but duller than light areas. So every place I add my dark blue, I also put in a touch of my middle value purple-gray, which is dull, to make the blue less intense. Normally, of course, if I wasn’t restricting myself to 3 pastels, I would choose a duller (less intense) pastel for my darkest darks.

Please be aware that the refining stage, between photo 2 and 3, is far more complex than it may appear. The tip of the nose and the nostrils, for example, has about 11 stages! I added a little dark, didn’t like it, modified with a touch of medium value...oops, too much, a little more dark, darn, too much, more middle –no not quite right, a little more light....nope, more dark, etc. I hope this gives you a better idea of how it really works, at least for me!

Things I learned:

I can use non-flesh colors to do a portrait. It is clearly recognizable because the values model the form.

By using a light touch, intermingling strokes, and blending, I can create intermediate values.

I can, if desired, let some of the paper show. Many people don’t like to do so – it is very much a matter of personal preference. But the paper color and value will influence your painting in many cases.

There is more to color than the hue (red, yellow, green, etc.) the value (degree of dark or light) and, as we discussed in lesson 1, the color temperature (warm or cool). There is intensity (often referred to as chroma). The degree of intensity (from intense to dull) is the 4th element of color that needs to be considered.

Note about the 4 aspects of Color:

Lots of people (myself included) find it difficult to judge the value of colored objects (including pastels). This is really at the heart of the “tonalist” method that I am using in this class. By beginning with fairly monochromatic stages, as we have done, we take color (hue), intensity and color temperature out of the equation while we work out the composition, placement, and three dimensional modeling of whatever we are painting. We can concentrate on just one element (value) of the color, which should make it simpler. Once we have our “value underpainting” in place, we can now concentrate on the other aspects of color – hue, intensity and color temperature – while our values are already in place.

We have briefly discussed contrast, light versus dark and warm versus cool, and shown how areas of greater contrast are more noticeable and often come forward in a painting. The same is true of intensity. An intense area of color will seem even more intense if surrounded by duller areas. It will also come forward. So one must be aware of the intensity as well as the value of the pastels you use. For the most part, as mentioned, shadows are usually darker and duller than areas that are in the light.

Just out of curiosity, I wondered if I could take my pastel painting experiment and add more flesh colored pastels to it. The values and features are in place, so I can concentrate on the other aspects of color. With my value underpainting reasonably accurate, it should be a fairly simple matter to choose pastels of a different color, but with the matching value. I did lengthen the nose, moving the nostril and tip down slightly, but mostly it was a matter of blending and overlaying color over my underpainting, making small refinements as I went. Here is the result (I got carried away and added forehead, hair and neck!) The reds are a bit stronger in the photo than in real life:



Experiment 2: Use 3 pastels and – use them only on their sides! Do not use the point! This will emphasize the blocking in of the large shapes to start our paintings. This might be a good experiment for hair, as well, so we don’t dwell on the individual strands. We have also been concentrating on the features and haven’t discussed the head in general. Using the side of the pastel might be a good exercise to concentrate on the planes of the face – the change in angle of the cheeks and the sides of the face. Here is my example:



This was kind of fun! And it only took a few minutes! A good exercise for blocking in the basics! Try some of these!!

OK, enough of my stuff – time for your paintings!

Last edited by DAK723 : 01-01-2009 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:18 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Part 4: Let’s paint!

Now it’s your turn! You may recognize these pics from our reference library from Lesson 1, but it seemed easier to include them again for your reference. I’ve added a couple new faces, too. You might want to use them, or grab a friend or family member, or use yourself as a model. We’ve done all the features now, so do as many together as you like. Have fun! Don’t worry about the end result - we are just practicing!


Photo by terence p

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=


Photo by terence p

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=


Photo by Rod

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=


Photo by devymarie

Link to full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=

Here are a couple new images from the RIL:


Photo by terence p

Link to a full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...hp?photo=59516


Photo by terence p

Link to a full size image:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/show...&size=big&cat=

And one more:


Photo by me.

Exercises:

You can do monochromatic value studies of a single or multiple features. Combined with lesson 1, we now have done all the features, so you can do any and all of them!

You can take it to Stage 2, by adding a fuller range of color.

You can experiment using only 3 “non-flesh color” pastels. Feel free to do more than one of these with a different combination of 3 pastels.

You can experiment by using 3 pastels and only use the side of the pastel, not the tip! Try these - they're fun!

Post your examples here in this thread. It is OK to combine more than one practice piece in your post. Ask any and all questions you may have. Share your observations.

Thanks to terance p, lisilk (one of the smile photos), Rod and devymarie for their photos from the reference library.

Next class: The long awaited class on...measuring!
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:15 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Wow--I can't wait to have time to digest this information! Thanks for all your work, Don.

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Old 01-01-2009, 03:24 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Wow--you have pointed out things that probably would have taken years (if ever) to figure out on my own. This is so wonderfully informative and your examples make it look easy! I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate you taking the time to teach this class. Thank you and happy new year!! (I hope to get started on the experiments soon... )
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Old 01-01-2009, 04:17 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Deborah and Elizabeth,

Thanks for the nice comments. I hope the information is helpful and easy to understand. That is one great thing about WC and, of course, the wealth of information available in books and DVDs, etc. - we don't have to figure it all out on our own! I guess I have been around long enough to have accumulated enough information about art that I can be useful to others!

I think the experiments should be fun, and look forward to see everybody's paintings. If there are ever questions or things you wish to discuss, that can be part of our classroom, too. I know there are many different ways to approach the creation of artwork. Hopefully, these lessons will give everybody some new ways or some options they hadn't thought of before.

As an admirer of Renoir, I have always approaches art with the realization that the learning never ends. On his deathbed, he reportedly said (about painting) "I think I am beginning to understand something about it."

Don
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Old 01-01-2009, 04:36 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Don, great stuff! Especially on that tricky and difficult hair... Trying to paint hairs or strands just doesn't look right, so I have high hopes for this method!

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Old 01-01-2009, 05:18 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Hi Don

Wow--I can't wait to find time to give all this information a go.
Thanks for all your work, Don.
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:59 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Me too! I have already posted this on last thread, but here I go again...I have been following this thread with great interest so much so that I have ordered some soft pastels. But they will take about a week to arrive so am very impatient....... grrrrrrrrrrr. Kathy
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:23 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Wow, this looks like a party I'd like to join. Need to look through the first thread, then get started.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:51 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

AHHHH! THE LIPS! The hardest part of the face for me to draw. I am very scared and extremely nervous to even start because the lips I usually attempt to draw always end up looking so ugly and then it makes me regret even trying or starting. But this time I'll try really hard not to give up.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Don!
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Old 01-02-2009, 04:34 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Here is my first attempt at drawing lips with soft pastels (the whole thing is a little slanted).

(based on the picture of your first demonstration)


Name:  lips 1.jpg
Views: 8118
Size:  42.1 KB


I hate it so much. I keep on erasing and adding and replacing and fixing and I am officially gonna go crazy. I cannot draw lips at all. They look so... lifeless. I feel like I got the shape wrong. The shape is so simple yet it's very hard to make it look "natural" and realistic.

-Joelle
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:15 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Joelle, beautiful lips, they're quite good and realistic, really! This is Don's class, but if I may suggest anyway?... I'd recommend darkening some of the values to the left, on the mouth, so those values are as deep as the cast shadow on the left cheek. Don't be afraid of losing edges there, our brains will fill it in. I think that would take your lips from very good to fantastic!

But listen to Don, I'm just being rude by butting in, he's the expert.

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Old 01-02-2009, 07:04 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Don,
Back from my Christmas holiday, but still too busy to do any serious art yet, I have looked at this class 2 and can't wait to get going on it. Its all wonderfully explained and I have especially enjoyed the master painter examples you have found for us. The hair on the Bougereau portrait is phenomenal.

I was sorry not to do more of class 1, it just came at the wrong time of year for me, I would really like to do more eyes and noses. I hope I'll be able to catch up soon.

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Old 01-02-2009, 09:30 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 2 (The Mouth and More)

Joelle,

You are too hard on yourself! These lips look good! The shape is very natural looking. You have nice subtle curves - the usual mistake would be too make them too angular - and you have nice value variation. You have done a very nice job on the lower lip highlights.

Charlie has given you good advice. (Charlie, your advice is always welcome!) If you squint at the ref photo you will see that the shadow on her left side is essentially one big shadow shape all the way to the bottom of the jaw. In this particular photo, you may notice on the grayscale, that the top lip on the left side (our left) is darker than the shadow on the left cheek. Top lips are often mainly in the shadow, when the light is from above.

[ I notice that on my demonstration, that I could have gone a bit darker on that upper lip, too!]

But really, drawing one part of the face in isolation is difficult because we see it in relation to the other parts. One part alone always looks a little bit odd!

This is really good. You should be happy with it!

Don




Quote:
Originally Posted by BANfear
Here is my first attempt at drawing lips with soft pastels (the whole thing is a little slanted).

(based on the picture of your first demonstration)


I hate it so much. I keep on erasing and adding and replacing and fixing and I am officially gonna go crazy. I cannot draw lips at all. They look so... lifeless. I feel like I got the shape wrong. The shape is so simple yet it's very hard to make it look "natural" and realistic.

-Joelle

Last edited by DAK723 : 01-02-2009 at 09:44 AM.

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