Artwork at Rockwood

Our website and social media are essential ways we communicate with our regular guests and those we hope to see at our BWCAW area resort and outfitting business. Visual communication through photographs and artwork at Rockwood seems the best use of social media.

Carl, one of the resort’s owners, is a lifelong techie. “My first computer was a Commodore 64, which my mom bought me in 1983,” he said. “The following year, I wrote an article for RUN magazine detailing how to edit the code of a popular C64 program.”

A journeyman electrician, Carl’s pre-resort owner career included important technical work in the military. An avid ham radio operator, he also studies Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and website creation. His website work, in addition to Rockwood, has benefited Trail Center Lodge and Hamilton Habitat.

Not afraid to try something new, Carl explores the current state of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to understand better how to use new technologies to celebrate and promote the outfitting and lodging services here at Rockwood.

The so-called shoulder seasons allow Carl time to focus on his research on AI offerings from Google’s Gemini and MidJourney, which also satisfy his artistic leanings. 

Carl’s critic’s eye and appreciation for artists come naturally to him.

“My mom, Ann (Hoit) Madsen, was an artist her whole life, painting miniature oil landscape paintings that were 2 inches wide,” Carl said. “She worked with paint brushes with a single horse hair.”

“Also, she completed one full-size painting; she displayed it in our apartment. It’s beauty with mountains, trees and a waterfall, and it has had a lasting impact on me.”

Inspired by the style of a Boundary Waters winter scene that he saw on ETSY, Carl asked MidJourney to create a canoeing scene in a similar style.

Through his efforts and a couple of dozen iterations, Carl and AI created a picture that captures a solo canoeist, appropriately wearing a personal flotation device, paddling between forested shorelines toward an awe-inspiring sunrise. 

On March 14, Carl posted the image on Facebook, saying, “I told myself, don’t do it. Stop using AI. But man it is addicting.”

One of his Facebook friends asked, “How do you do it?” 

Carl responded, “It’s a slippery slope to wasting time. Research Midjourney and Adobe Firefly.”

The beautiful scene created by his AI experiments inspired Carl to contact local artist Jayne Richards and ask if she could recreate the image in a real-life painting. She jumped at the chance to paint the scene on a 30” by 40” canvas.

Jayne created a wonderful painting, starting with a blank canvas and Carl’s AI-generated image. First creating a sketch of the canoeist, Jayne went to work.

On her social media, she wrote, “I had an interesting project come my way in April. It was to take an AI-generated image and paint it on a large canvas. Carl Madsen of Rockwood Lodge dreamed up the image he wanted.  So, this is how I spent the April snowstorm.” 

The April snowstorm lasted three days, but the completed project took a bit longer.

She posted a copy of the final painting on Facebook to much acclaim.

The painting is now proudly displayed on the wall of our lodge. Thank you, Jayne Richards and JR Designs in Grand Marais. 

Carl supports local artists whenever he can. And he’s not done dreaming up ideas for beautiful paintings to decorate the historic lodge on Poplar Lake, especially with the help of AI.

But our Spring opening is just around the corner, so Carl will be busy getting ready to help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the BWCAW and along the Gunflint Trail.

Check out our website for available lodging and to book a BWCAW adventure for you, your family, and your friends. 

Want to try a solo trip? Check out this recent blog post