Welcome to the world of Hal Lasko, The “Pixel Painter”.
“Grandpa Hal” as he was better known, made paintings that may resemble a classic 8-bit video game but upon closer inspection many are calling it fine art.
All of Hal’s pieces were lovingly if a bit tediously crafted by guiding a computer mouse through a decades-old software application. It's hard to imagine such a level of complexity could be achieved in something as simple as Microsoft Paint. Yet Lasko's art gives proof in the pixels.
Lasko did all of his painting despite challenges that could’ve ended his passion for painting. In his later years, he suffered from wet macular degeneration, an age-related, chronic eye disease which severely limits the center of his field of vision. It's a formidable handicap for anyone, but especially someone who'd made a living off his artist's eye.
Long before age began to take its toll on Lasko, he'd enjoyed a successful career as an artist of a different sort than what he's become. He started out as a graphic designer, working in the military during World War II drafting maps. After his military career, he worked on creative projects for several companies and eventually retired from American Greetings in the 1970s. Throughout it all he would paint at home to satisfy his artistic urges.
But the older Lasko got and the less he could see, the harder it became for him to paint. Things changed for Lasko when his family gave him a computer as an 85th birthday present.
His new PC came loaded with Microsoft Paint software. The program was developed in the '80s but gained popularity with the release of the Windows 95 operating system in 1995. In today's Age of the iPad, Paint might be viewed as more kitsch than cutting edge. But Paint's easy interface and pixel precision allowed Lasko to journey down a new artistic path with a style that could be considered retro cool.
"When I got the computer and saw what the Paint program offered, I started a whole new career almost. It's so easy for me to handle," Lasko said. "Every time I paint on it, I'm trying to do something that's approaching fine art."
With help from his grandson Ryan and Ryan’s friend Josh, Lasko has shared his work and story with the world. He hoped that people who see his work will understand that age and handicaps may challenge you, but they shouldn't stop you from pursuing what you love.
"I get a lot of assistance because of my handicaps, but I don't treat them as handicaps because I still think I can do some painting," Lasko said. "I discovered quite a long time ago that this was my thing, and I just love to paint."