Hal Lasko, The Pixel Painter


Hal Lasko, better known as Grandpa, worked as a graphic artist back when everything was done by hand.

His family introduced him to the computer and Microsoft Paint long after he retired.

Grandpa spends ten hours a day moving pixels around his computer paintings. His work is a collision of pointillism and 8-Bit art.

Meet 97-year-old Hal Lasko, The Pixel Painter.



Posted by saiko-raito @ 7/24/2013 02:55  |    50


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Bohnz (Level 1 Depressed) @ 8/4/2013 04:47

 hope I'm still drawing when I'm 97, allthough based on my poor diet, sharp tongue and attraction to bright red lights shaped like people I'm betting I'll only make it to 96 years 11 months 22 and a half days old.

DragonMarx (Level 3 Corporate Drone) @ 8/3/2013 04:59

 I have a really bad case of jumping into old/resolved arguments :s

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 8/3/2013 01:28

Thanks DM, we really needed that explained at this point.

DragonMarx (Level 3 Corporate Drone) @ 8/2/2013 19:25

 Damn, we have RAV the unofficial PJ philosipher in one corner and Metaru in the other. Are we seriously having this discussion? Metaru is right (albeit with a seemingly rude tinge to it) Hal's aesthetic is not pixel art. I like his work, but the dude doesn't draw pixel art in the sense that we do. PJ is more about refining use of the pixel; creating the illusion that there is more when there isn't. Hal's aesthetic is more similar to artists using mediums involving very sporadic 'strokes' to create a larger image, not fine detail. Instead, Hal's aesthetic takes pixel detail to the other spectrum; creating the illusion that there is less than there actually is. Of course, the whole situation is hypothetical, and didn't need anyone defending either side because it's entirely pointless.

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 8/2/2013 04:34

It is pointless in so far that we don't even know what he had actually submitted. All the more it makes this reactionary knee-jerk rejection aggravating overall. It's symptomatic for an unhealthy policy. It wasn't so much about whether this is oekaki or groundbreaking, but a question of reasonable community policy for a productive atmosphere -- that is a lot more than sentimentality, that is a question of prosperity. I like Jalonso's attitude in that he has the patience to care and grow people, though that too is limited by policies that directly result from PJ's design. Maybe that too is pointless to talk about since no one is working on the site anyway. But frankly, you might want to check upon the meta-sense of your point obsession: something can be in parts an interesting read even without your sense of immediate point, and something can be senseless boring with all your rigorous point short. The simple observation that this is oekaki and doesn't belong here is so self-evidently cliché to PJ, personally I'd find it entirely pointless to write or read this banality for the millionth time without any other aspect ever thought over. That this "entire debate is pointless" is akin to saying, what's the point of painting art if it cannot be used in a game. Your debate on Gawd's Wrath was even more pointless, but I liked it a whole lot more than the point you're at lately. I wish you were more fortunate in getting someone to talk with, than getting scared of your own passion, and that of others. Either way, whatever value was to be had in discussing this is very much exhausted by now, here and in the chatterbox.

cure (Level 11 Pixellite) @ 8/1/2013 13:45

Met is right here, other than a few of his works these are all clear-cut examples of oekaki, like most mspaint creations. And none of it is really ground breaking, the article hinges on sentimentality. The story is the salient aspect, not so much the art.

That being said this entire debate is pointless.

ParkerBabyDiaperCompany (Level 2 King Checker) @ 8/1/2013 07:44

I agree that his works should not be accepted here. Clearly.

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 7/30/2013 21:26

 hwo hard would it be to identify the spray can patterns on his works?

toxotes (Level 2 Flatfoot) @ 7/30/2013 01:18

 Again, how does his work breach our standards? You do not know, because you make assumptions about his processes. Hyotheticals lead to endless debates, so yeah...

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 7/30/2013 00:48

 if you really are into hal lasko's work, go ahead and buy oneof his prints for $98. i'mpretty sure he'll be happy to share a royalty free version of one of his works with us so anyone can print his own version for free.

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 7/30/2013 00:46

 "as i stated before, a feature or an interview would do the job pretty well, but then again, what he does is nowhere near what pixel joint is. i mean, you're all blindly jumping into the subject PURELY because he uses MSPAINT AND THE THING HAS PIXELS ON IT"

the whole debate starts off from he using ms paint, and solely because he uses ms paint. the only conclusions being made here are from the people who simply jumped on the video and linked it to the site because it had the word "PIXEL" on it. then again, hygene? its not a matter of hygene. what would be the purpose of having his art on the site? why on earth he would post his art here when he already has enough exposure on his own site, let alone the video made in his honor? if we were to share with him, and have some of his vision on the medium, why not make an interview with him, make a separated feature(wich is basically what everyone wants here) and then present him with the medium that pixel art is?

we've been arguing back and forth about several amount of subjects and deviated from the main point when the issue is clear as it gets. he's a digital artist not for choice, but rather for convenience. its not that he, as an artist, choose to use mspaint to keep working on his art, but instead he was given the approach by his family so he could continue despite his medical limitations(mainly, his limited eyesight).

 if his art were to be posted here as a regular submission, it'd live outt of purely hype, and as soon that that vanished, you'd have a piece that would sink into the very depths of the gallery, deeply buried by the incoming waves of another wave of sprites. a feature/interview, however, would stay far longer in a place that would show his work and would actually showcase him as what really matters: as an artist, one that at the age of 97 can still develop himself to his pasion.

 at the risk of being considered inhuman at the whole issue, this whole internet fame thing is doing nothing but bastardize his work and limit it only to a gimmicky news about an old man using a computer to draw things. what really is to be memorable is not what he does, but instead the fact that, at his age, he has the support of his family and closer and they appreciate his work and life, to the point they gave him another chance to keep working on it despite his age, wich is what really makes the whole story emotive. its not that he can draw stuff on mspaint with or without the spraycan, is an story about a man that had the ability to keep working at the age of 97 thanks to his family.

tl;dr: its not about an old guy painting with pixels, so stop with the nonsense about "opening new ways" bullshit. Pixel art is an medium wich is based off limitations, and to work under these limitations to expand your own skill and ability to not be restrcited by them. you want to go beyond it? sure, go ahead, but dont call it pixel art, name it a digital painting/oekaki/whatever and make a whole world out of it. trying to shoehorn the whole thing into the site and call it "elitistism" is downright idiotic.

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/29/2013 14:25

It wasn't so much rejection but rage quit from what I could gather. Apparantly he overreacted about some suggestions for optimizations not expressed in a super patronizing manner. I'm no fan of the idea that we have to treat people like a casket of eggs. I think the definitions on PA are an effective help, good stuff, worth recommending, worth as a basis for good critique. Just not an excuse for being a total ass about it and ignoring further factors that might reasonably bend application from case to case as makes sense to the artist or is beneficial to PJ. It doesn't help anyone nor the arts when some snapshot of understanding only exists for its own sake rather than the sake of people. I think PJ is run well and is already showing lenience on a lot of cases. However this problem and its discussion at every other case will never subside, because really, PJ is a bit of a wacky idea for a gallery or incomplete in implementation. So all we can do is make a fighting fuss about every other case, since there's always something even wackier coming in. This behavior is conditioned so deeply that even hypothetical cases become a never ending story. I have no solution to the problem other than becoming part of the problem. But whatever, It's alright, I like hanging around, silly talk this or that, part of life, you know you need it.

ceddo (Level 7 Ichikyu) @ 7/29/2013 13:22

I've got to jump in and agree with RAV here. Not only does Hal Lasko produce beautiful work, he does it in a way that could at least be somewhat considered "pixel-art like". Any commonality between him and hardcore pixel artists should be embraced, because his presence on PJ would be a great gift and a breath of fresh air. The differences are opportunities for new ways of thinking, originality!

I feel that a lot of the resistance is coming here from the idea that pixel art must be limited to the strictest elitist rules. Like RAV mentioned, the idea of "gallery hygiene" is worth considering, especially since Pixeljoint has an image to protect. But in my opinion, the possibility of breaking new ground by making a few exceptions here, far outweigh the risk of "pixel gallery contamination" by passionate, accomplished artists.

I wasn't here when Paul Robertson was apparently rejected from the site, but again, I think that was a missed opportunity for the growth and evolution of the pixel media.

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/29/2013 08:00

Everyone else's is brilliant compared to mine.

i don't think anyone really ragged on the man.

It's more about what this has to do with us.

TheKaizenPixel (Level 2 Flatfoot) @ 7/29/2013 04:33

 Interesting to see that all who criticize the old guy for his art are also the one with the worst pixel art here...

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/29/2013 02:16

Not sure what you're arguing or what you assume I'm saying. This hypothesis tests the theory. It isn't so much important anymore what Hal actually thinks or does, when the possibility puts to question a lot more, from past to future, than just his case. You see, that's the definition derived from our hypothetical debate, not necessarily accepted canon. So far the applied policing of definitions has been very result/style/fact driven: If it roughly looks like oekagi it is rough oekagi. And at the same time policed inconsistently when it comes to vector or painterly style.

toxotes (Level 2 Flatfoot) @ 7/29/2013 02:02

 @RAV: pixel art is definied by its attention to pixel-level detail, whereas each pixel is placed purposely and with complete control by the artist. If this is what Hal Lasko is doing, then it is his style and aestehetic that is being criticized, not his methods, and that can be debated as a fault on members here for not recognizing another, much  different style. This is hypothetical though, as none of this has been expounded upon by Hal himself.

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/29/2013 01:53

Can there be pixel art that looks as if it were oekagi, like we already have pixel art here that looks as if it were vector art (already to the irritation of some). Hal says that he spends months if not years on some of his pieces so that he needs a lot of patience. What is he doing all this time if not optimizing on the pixel detail, that he emphasizes to be shown in print. Oekaki disregards pixel detail, quick sketches. How then does that fit with what Hal is doing. And then there is the problem, is pixel art only what appears as pixel on screen, or also in some cases how it ends up percieved by special conditions of eye sight. The pixel is more than just a fact, that's why we have color bending tricks in pixel art.

There is a dissonance in definition, as art is process as much as result, and perception as much as fact; one might trick the other, and it is this game that artists like to play to confuse others. This dude is in twilight zone. And as much as the situation is hypothetical, he's "disturbingly" real in that his existence puts to test everything from definitions to policies, and is salt to emotional wounds. It seems, it is not enough to gasp in relief his case is unlikely to arise when the possibility mocks the self-confidence of PA, or lack thereof.

toxotes (Level 2 Flatfoot) @ 7/28/2013 20:16

 A lot of assumptions are made here on what tools and processes he uses to make his work -- tell me, because I might have missed it in the videos, but is it actually shown (or stated) anywhere that he uses the spray can? Is it possible that the noise present in most of his works is in fact intentional noise, and is his solution to blending color with pixels? There's always been this stigma on this site about noisy pixel art, which I can totally understand because most of the time pixel noise is the result of sloppy work and/or beginner techniques, but what about clusters of pixels, each placed intentionally, used to produce a different form of pixel blending? If this is the case, it feels as though technique is not whats being criticized here, because the intention of working at a pixel level MAY be present (again, nobody has asked the man about his process so this is still up in the air), but instead style that is being criticized.

I dont know, this is (and probably will remain) a hypothetical situation of him submitting to this site, so why even argue over it?  (in other words, whatamiIevendoing?)


RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/28/2013 14:10

Any kind of comment is irrelevant to the video; the video can only be relevant to us, and how is to be discussed, something more than just "great" if commenting is to say something the video not already does for itself. The video is about him. Since it's a news post here, he was deemed relevant to PA, and that makes having his person a natural interest to the community of PJ.

Though, that it turns out now he supposedly is not doing PA, and has no business with PJ, puts into question of being a news here to begin with. The case of Lasko is at the breaking point of PJ's insecurity: that community is irrelevant compared to the integrity of the gallery.

So that the discourse we've been having was the only one that made sense to have here.

That's what's so sad.

Friend (Level 3 Hatchikyu) @ 7/28/2013 13:21

 As an outsider of visual arts, these posts have me wondering- how valuable and relevant are PJ's standards of what the medium is? are PJ's standards infallible or are they simply a construct for the sake of maintaining a specific gallery of art?

Delicious (Level 10 Capo) @ 7/28/2013 11:58

 It would great having him around, but this gallery is for pixel art and what he does is not pixel art. Having him in this community is irrelevant to the video though. 

Quite inspiring I must say.  

AtskaHeart (Level 8 Regional Boss) @ 7/27/2013 21:35

I liked the thoughts you shared RAV, and in some aspects I agree with you. This person is an artist, and his devotion to digital art considering his conditions is impressing. But I must agree with Hapiel, most of his art doesn't match with the definition of pixel art that we have here on pixeljoint.

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/27/2013 16:09

In my eyes he's an anomaly that expands the discourse of pixel art to a meta-physical level, from an undefined process of recognition to a defined result of style. Making every little matter of community come down to a cookie cutter interpretation of definition, removes the spark from pixel art. I'd rather chat it up with Lasko than bargain the conditions of having him welcomed. The definitions are to help people understand and create pixel art; not hate living it creatively. But whatever, it's not like there's any point to this.

Hapiel (Level 11 Bonsai) @ 7/27/2013 11:36

A blind methusalem who is trying as hard as he can to make digital paintings with pixel details. Not pixel art. If he would try as hard as he could to make pixel art he'd be welcome, but we would have to agree on our definition of pixel art.


RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/27/2013 06:39

Met, you're reducing the problem to some pet peeve you can't get over with. I wonder who is jumping here on what.


Can you really not see the difference between a young and able man too arrogant than to comply to community concerns, and an almost blind Methusalem who's trying as hard as he possibly can? That is to say, the old man demonstrates how you still can make kind of pixel art when you're almost dead, while the young man demonstrates how to be a whiny bitch about pixel art.


The people of PJ and Pixelation are thoughtful about the sense of their craft, an ongoing care is put into understanding it. I follow their line of thought as much as I like to question at times, but there is a difference between doing that in contribution to their reasonable effort, or doing it in retribution of a hurt ego. Yet we must realize whatever theory we have here, it cannot easily answer every possible case, when it is very much in nature of art and life to undermine and surprise on the fringe. That's why we have to keep a critical distance from even our very own devices, and remind ourselves that there are consideratons beyond.

This case means nothing "for PJ" in fundamental terms, it's insignificant to gallery "hygiene", it doesn't sanction the same for everyone else. This is not an ideological rail way switch. All it would have meant maybe is giving the community of PJ an unique and unforgettable experience worth an exception, for the little time that man has left on earth.

And that ignores the possibility that Hal Lasko maybe even could and would adhere more to pixel art tenets in new works created for us specifically, as much as it isn't even certain he would get in if he didn't. So not only is this discussion entirely hypothetical, it is entirely besides the matter of the news, revealing it's about projected issues more than anything.

Hapiel (Level 11 Bonsai) @ 7/27/2013 06:07

I agree with Met, his work would not fit in our gallery at all. I enjoy PJ becoming 'softer' but this would go too far.

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 7/27/2013 02:16

 let me put it this way: pixeljoint rejected paul robertson back in the day because his sprites didn't fit with PJ's definition of Pixel Art. we even mocked him because he ranted on a podcast about it, and still make fun of the thing, even when he's one of the most recognized faces of the whole "media".

 Yet "lets make an exceptionbecaise this old man uses the spray can on MSpaint and he's old bla bla bla" is seriusly being considered by people? what would vene be the point of doing so, when all of his works are already on his own website and would serve absolutely no purpose on the site?(other than saying "whoa look that old PIXEL painter is on PIXELjoint). come on.

as i stated before, a feature or an interview would do the job pretty well, but then again, what he does is nowhere near what pixel joint is. i mean, you're all blindly jumping into the subject PURELY because he uses MSPAINT AND THE THING HAS PIXELS ON IT.

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/25/2013 23:41

There is more than one focus to have, and there are benefits beyond glorified definition. You may call the exception to the rule soft; but maybe it is rather smart, at times to think outside the box. The man himself, his own body, is the hardware limitation that motivates his style in pixel art, and zoomed in as he must, he works on pixel detail level with a lot of time to care. To this sense and simplicity, his art is certainly much closer to Pixel Joint than it is to photoshop deviant, quite obviously to anyone other than here.

Like I said earlier, the point of having his art here is to have his person here; that man got wits, he got something to say, he has something valuable to teach, even just by his mere existence: art that cares about inbred definitions more than compassion for an artist's soul, is no art, pixel production, but no pixel art.

I'm just not sure it would be in the best interest of himself, his very health and happiness, to spend more time defending his art from the harassment of zealots that by all means rather want to make him understand their way, than enjoying a moment shortwhile ride on his. Dear Lord, that old geezer is dangerous after all, his exempt case might open up the gates to hell, and all the world's filth might ruin this temple! And pixel art might get misrepresented outside! And why gets he in and not I, where is the fairness in all that! And... Jesus Christ, those thoughts sure have more to do with pixel art than that old man's honest to god best shot at pixel art.

StarQueen (Level 1 Depressed) @ 7/25/2013 22:33

I still think that the cure is right and pixel joint should make an exception, so if it postasse some of his works here, and some alleged reasons where should we make an exception is that the man had no contact with pixel art, tutorials or even some previews of how they should do .. .. or something, he does so willingly .. I think it really amazing, as we all here on the site, the pixel art is a hobie ... however, problems with the eyes or not, the zoom is a tool in which no doubt .. some pixel artist here on pixel joint ever used .. is really important ..

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 7/25/2013 21:13

 take it s a general call, nothing particulary aimed at you. though he is certainly lucky to have a family that enjoys and supports his devotion for art, what he does is nowhere near what pixeljoint has to offer -at most, he's a digital painter, like anyone else who uses software to render their work-

besides using mspaint, there is absolutely nothing pixel art on what he does. unless people will just get moved by the "pixel painter" title. in fact, the sole reason why he uses MSpaint is due the zoom feature, and that is only used to bypass the issues with his eyes.

its certainly a touching sotry, and its probably what most if not all of us would love to achieve at some point in our elderly days, but come on, stay on focus.

toxotes (Level 2 Flatfoot) @ 7/25/2013 21:10

 Heh, submitted this last night -- I'm guessing someone beat me to it? 

A friend sent me this on facebook and I've been contemplating messaging this guy not particularly about submitting here, even though I think he might find it interesting to, but to show him that there is an artform out there that deals specifically with  pixels and that he's not alone in his obsession. I think that would blow his mind, in a good way.

Squirrelsquid (Level 4 Rubbish) @ 7/25/2013 12:01

 absolutely beautiful and touching. I cried a lil. 

While I agree that it looks a lil noisy in places, I did like a some of the shown motives a lot. I would approve, but I'm not a mod.

jalonso (Level 11 Godfather) @ 7/25/2013 10:37

 @shampoop, sooner rather than later, my sight and more likely my hands (already really tough) won't be able to pixel due to aging. Will an exception be made for me?...I hope not.

ceddo (Level 7 Ichikyu) @ 7/25/2013 07:04

 Absolutely beautiful, in every way. Thanks for the link.

cure (Level 11 Pixellite) @ 7/25/2013 06:57

 Wouldn't be my call to make, so it doesn't matter how soft I've become. I just don't anticipate the moderators would tell a 1000 year old grandpa to fuck off. Irrelevant in any regard, it's a hypothetical situation that is unlikely to arise.

Lóng (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/25/2013 05:15

 I assume while to us his art looks noisy, his eye-condition apparantly does blur so to him it looks blended together.

RAV (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/25/2013 03:27

His art would be here so he would be here.

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 7/25/2013 02:19

 getting soft with the years? i dont see why his art would be here, seeing he has his own website.

if anything, a feature or an interview would do the job.

P0int (Level 3 Hatchikyu) @ 7/24/2013 15:48

May Hal Lasko live a long and peaceful life.

May no turmoil upset him.

May he be well, happy, and peaceful.

Sapei (Level 1 Rookie) @ 7/24/2013 13:55

C'est magnifiiique *-*

Cammymoop (Level 6 Blue Crab) @ 7/24/2013 13:04

What a guy!

cure (Level 11 Pixellite) @ 7/24/2013 11:57

I'm sure pixeljoint would make an exception. Most of it is oekaki for sure, but that's only a dirty word here.

shampoop (Level 5 Killer Klown) @ 7/24/2013 11:52

If he created an account here, would his art get accepted?  Looks like he uses the spray can tool a lot

Losm (Level 7 Mass Murderer) @ 7/24/2013 11:44

That last part made me tear up. 

I love how passionate he is about his art.

Jinn (Level 11 Cthulhu (The Call of Cthulhu)) @ 7/24/2013 09:21

Awesome man! 

T-Mind (Level 7 Ichikyu) @ 7/24/2013 08:27

 I hope we all can be at that age still making so cool pixelart!
Maybe a Pixeljoint retirement recenter :P

TropicalSnowcone (Level 6 GBC) @ 7/24/2013 07:48

That is an awesome old man right there. Keep going pops.

Temessis (Level 6 Made) @ 7/24/2013 07:30

A moving story

jalonso (Level 11 Godfather) @ 7/24/2013 06:59

Heed the wisdom. If not from me then this geezer.


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