A little more than 10 years ago, Hal Lasko began to lose his eyesight. Things appeared blurry, reading on paper was nearly impossible and colors were washed out. A condition called wet macular degeneration was making it nearly impossible for the World War II veteran and retired designer to keep up with his oil painting.
But Lasko, who turns 98 on Sunday, found a rather unexpected way of continuing to paint. He replaced the fabric canvas and oil paints with a digital versions.
"I was painting with acrylics, and for my 85th birthday they gave me a computer. I was having a problem with the paint brush because my eye sight was getting poorer," Lasko, who lives with his son in Rocky River, Ohio, told ABC News in a phone interview. "I went to the computer because I could magnify it. I learned to use the Paint program just like I paint with a brush."
In 1999 Lasko's son Ron and his grandson Ryan gave him a computer running Windows 95, and using an external magnifier that attaches to the computer monitor, Hal was able to blow up the images on the screen and better see colors. He began using Microsoft's Paint, the dead-simple art program, to create colorful pixel art.
The creations speak for themselves. The vibrant images, inspired by Edward Hopper and Paul Klee, are all all created pixel-by-pixel using digital paint brushes and pencils. Each piece can take a number of days to work on, but Lasko says that he prefers the Paint program to other more advanced painting and art applications.
"It became the only way I could express myself and paint," Lasko, who is also losing his hearing, said. Before retiring, Lasko spent 10 years working at American Greetings, styling the fonts and cards.
But now Lasko's hobby has turned into somewhat of a second career. His grandson Ryan, 32, came up with the idea to create a video about his grandfather's digital masterpieces and in celebration of Hal's 98th birthday to sell some prints of his grandfather's work. Eight of his prints are on sale for $98 a piece at http://hallasko.com/collections/prints. Ten percent goes to the Veterans of Foreign Wars program.
The portion of the "Pixel Painter" video can be viewed above, but the entire well-produced video can be viewed here.
Since putting them up for sale on Tuesday, Ron Lasko says that they have seen quite a "large number of requests," but says they will keep up with the demand. The prints will be printed on high-quality paper and Hal will be sign and date each of them.
Hal has no plans to stop working any time soon.
"I have about a half a dozen still in the works," he said. "I start working on one and then put it aside so I don't get bored."