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Plugged In

Legally blind artist, 97, paints in pixels

Plugged In

By Christopher MacManus, CNET

Using nothing more than Microsoft Paint, artist Hal Lasko stays in tune with his favorite passion. Don't miss this video showing his inspirational story.

Artists might see the world differently, but these days, 97-year-old Hal Lasko has trouble seeing much of anything. That doesn't stop him, however, from making beautiful pixel art with Microsoft Paint.

Lasko, considered legally blind, has a condition known as wet macular degeneration, which causes loss of central vision. In theory, this sort of vision impairment would sound like something that could hinder an artist from creating illustrations, but it doesn't stop Lasko.

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"The Thriller" by Hal Lasko (Credit: Hal Lasko)

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"Woods in Avon" by Hal Lasko (Credit: Hal Lasko)

Lasko's story is a spectacular blast from the past from the times of old media. Born in 1915, he served in World War II as an architect for bombing raids, then worked as a graphic designer in Cleveland. He moved on to do typography (e.g. Lasko script) and design for organizations such Goodyear, General Tire, and The Cleveland Browns as a part of American Greetings until the 1970s.

Decades after Lasko retired, his urge to create art was still with him. His grandson, Ryan Lasko, showed the designer Microsoft Paint in the late 1990s. "Grandpa was hooked. His work blossomed and he painted on the computer all the time. No one knew how important this program would become to Grandpa until he lost some of his vision in 2005," Ryan says on the Web site Hallasko.com. Lasko would also eventually become legally deaf.

As Lasko's vision waned, he kept at Microsoft Paint, and developed a style that blends pointillism and 8-bit art. According to Ryan Lasko, "Grandpa" often spends up to 10 hours a day working on his creations.

"Do you know I do a lot of my painting with my eyes shut? I jumped up out of bed and went to the computer to see if I could do what I dreamed I could do," Lasko says in the inspirational video below.

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