Saturday, July 27, 2013

Graphic artist, 97, becomes pixel painter after becoming legally blind

From the NY Daily News:

He’s legally blind, 97 years old and still spinning out beautiful, unique art work.

How, you ask. Hal Lasko (pictured) uses Windows ’95 and Microsoft Paint to create the stunning art.

The “Pixel Painter,” as he has been anointed — or, better yet, just Grandpa — is the subject of a inspiring viral video making waves online.

He served as a letter man, or typographer, his grandson Ryan Lasko says in the video, working as a “graphic artist back when everything was done by hand.” Ryan Lasko, who co-directed the eight-minute “Pixel Painter” video, said the family bought Grandpa a computer 15 years ago and showed him how to use Microsoft Paint.

“Once I did, he took off with it,” Ryan Lasko said. “It wasn’t until years later that we realized how important this thing was to him.”

A condition called wet macular degeneration diminished Hal Lasko’s eyesight to the point that he’s now legally blind. But, using big fonts on the computer and “patience,” Lasko’s mastered Microsoft Paint and started churning out impressive landscapes and animals in his unique, extremely pixelated style.

“When I lost my eyesight, I thought my painting days were over,” Hal Lasko explained. “The reason I’m using the computer is different because I’m using it because it gives me the benefit of magnifying enough so that my eyesight is good enough that I can still do it.”

And at 97 years old, he has no intention of stopping. The prolific painter is still active and mentally sharp, and once he finishes a painting, he goes to a print shop to make it a physical reality.

Hal Lasko tried more advanced and current painting programs but found he liked the simple Microsoft Paint the best.

“To conceive a painting, it was much easier to keep it simple,” he told NBC News. “I had had years to learn how to do this — so I just decided that this is my way. What I made was beautiful to me."

Those prints are available on his very own website and sell for $98 each in honor of his impending 98th birthday. Because he is a veteran of World War II, 10% of all sales goes to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“You know it’s no longer work; it’s fun,” Grandpa said in the video. “When I worked, I always had to do something to please the client … Now I can do whatever I want!”

Two paintings were featured in an art exhibit at a local senior center in Ohio.

Even his family says the dedicated computer painter has no intention of slowing down. Hal Lasko’s vibrancy is obvious in his every movement and the joy he takes in his painting.

“I’ve never heard him complain about age or … talk about dying at all,” Grandpa’s son, Ron Lasko, said in an emotional interview in the video. “He doesn’t have that in him.”