Picture This: Local Artist's Creative Pet Portraits 'Bring a Little Joy'

Jackie Dummer works on a pet portrait.
By day, Edina resident Jackie Dummer works in marketing and graphic design. She flexes her creative muscles via a pet portraiture side project.

“I’ve always been on the creative end. I’ve always loved creating things,” says Edina resident Jackie Dummer. 

By day she works in marketing and graphic design with local companies including Minnetonka’s Boyer Building Corporation and One Way Wireless Construction out of Shakopee. But after a full day of crafting graphics and designing print media, her creative muscles remain unfatigued. After setting down her keys, Dummer heads to her studio right off the main hall of her home and sits to continue her personal creative endeavor—pet portraiture.

Jackie Dummer

“Her creativity permeates every aspect of her life,” says longtime friend Susan Bunz. The two met in college, where Dummer was already creating stationery and personalized thank you cards. “All you have to do is drive up to Jackie’s house to see her creativity at work,” Bunz says. “She always has beautiful seasonal planters and decorations.”

Jackie Dummer's paints

But between a full-time job and raising three boys, it wasn’t always easy to find time to dedicate to her creative outlets. Dummer was still creating small things and doing commissioned work on the side for close family and friends, but after seeing her last child off to college, “I finally just decided I would dive in a little bit more,” she says. It all started with some paintings of her sister’s dogs, and a pet portraiture business was born.

Jackie Dummer works on a pet portrait.

“I was in love with our lab and we had him for almost 10 and a half years. Having to say goodbye to him, that’s hard,” Dummer says. Her first “royal portrait” was of Ole, the late pooch’s head regally memorialized on a bust of a French admiral. “My boys and husband were encouraging me to get back into my art. I did a few, starting with my sister’s dogs, and then posted those on social media. It just went from there,” she says.

A portrait of a dog wearing a general's uniform.

Roughly half of her commissions have come by word-of-mouth as Dummer’s portraits have spread over social media. There have been a lot of memorials; a lot of people missing their dogs. The passing of a beloved family pet, as Dummer knows, can be hard. “And a lot of people go through it,” she says. “So, if a portrait can bring a little joy on the other end, that’s what it’s all about.”

There have also been a lot of gifts, especially for kids leaving home for the first time. Bunz’s first commissioned portrait of the family’s labradoodle, Charley, was for her daughter Emma. “She was leaving for college and I really thought she would enjoy taking a portrait of Charley with her,” Bunz says. Now, the portrait is hanging in Emma’s dorm room.

A portrait of a dog.

Add the ability for customization, and the possibilities for these portraits grow exponentially. Bunz’s second commission was a Christmas gift for her son. “He is a big Iowa State fan and Jackie did an awesome picture of Charley sitting on an Iowa State doormat,” Bunz says. The idea caught on quick. “The Iowa State on the mat—all of a sudden everyone’s a fan of their certain college,” Dummer says with a smile.

Doormats aren’t the end of possibilities. From school colors to logoed bow ties, Dummer welcomes it all. “I like that kind of thing. I can put my creative spin on it so it’s not just the dog,” she says. Dummer leaves space for customized requests on the commission form through her website. She also asks for a few photos; one for the favored pose, and one or two others to make sure the coloring is correct.

A portrait of a dog.

Scrolling through Dummer’s website or Instagram, people can see the range of her work and get some ideas. Pet portraits may have been the impetus for J K Dummer, but that’s by no means the only thing on offer. Aside from stationery and other painted craft ornaments, Dummer has steadily been adding more animals to her stable. Whether it’s a small watercolor of a bird as a thank you gift, or a crab and lobster pair to warm the house of a family moving out to the East Coast, Dummer’s happy to apply her creative eye to the ideas that come her way.

A portrait of a turkey.

A cow portrait by Jackie Dummer

A portrait of a sheep.

“The art as a whole, just any commission work, I’m in heaven doing,” Dummer says. Another thing that excites her about the future is paying this good fortune forward. “At the end of the year 20 percent of every sale goes back to local charities and national charities of my choice, divided up,” she says. “I like to switch it up every year. I’ve always given back every year, so this is nothing new for me. If God gave me even a little bit of talent, I want to give a portion of it back into the community.”

Dummer offers portraits in 5x7 and 9x12. Commissions are done in acrylic on a canvas background unless requested otherwise. If you want to give your pet the royal treatment, you can pick out a bust for their royal portrait. For more information or to find the commission form, visit Dummer’s website at jkdummer.com

J K Dummer
Instagram: @jackie.dummer