Workshop Archives

Here is a sampling of previous workshops at AX, listed in reverse-chronological order.


March 3 – August 8, Seeing the Patient Visual Learning Exercise with Bonny Hill

“Erin & Michaela” Mark Gilbert, 2018 Pastel on paper, 49.75″ x 41.75″

Step One: Description

Note the title, date, size, and medium. Describe the subject matter. Notice all of the  details you see in the work. It is important to carefully, slowly, and non-judgmentally observe the art.

Step Two: Analysis

Pay close attention to which art elements the artist used. Line, shape, colour, value (lightness or darkness), texture, and space. Look for ways the elements were used to organize the composition using principles of design: rhythm, balance, movement, proportion, variety, emphasis, contrast, and unity.

Step Three: Interpretation

List any feelings, impressions, or moods you get from the artwork – think creatively and imaginatively at this stage. Base your interpretation on what you’ve concluded in the first two steps of the critique process. Guess at the artist’s intention and motivation. If possible, research the artist at this stage and refer to information in the gallery.

Step Four: Judgment/Evaluation

Describe the ways in which the artist has successfully created a work that fulfills their intention and connects with their audience in a meaningful way.

Here’s one way to interpret this portrait based on the four steps above, courtesy of Bonny Hill.

Artist Mark Gilbert has created a large pastel study of two figures: a caregiver holding a young girl. The caregiver’s gaze is on the child’s face. The child looks outward as though in deep thought. The two sit together on the same chair in the corner of a room next to a small table. They both wear warm, comfortable clothing. The girl reaches back to feel the caregiver’s hair while the caregiver holds the child on her lap with both hands around her waist.

The artist has chosen a closely cropped composition with little negative space or background, and in doing so, describes the intimacy of the relationship. The viewer is drawn to the faces, as is always the case in figurative studies which appear to have a higher degree of ‘finish’ than other areas of the work. For the bodies and background spaces, Gilbert has used gestural marks to capture the poses quickly. The free-flowing lines add movement and contrast with the highly detailed faces. The vertical corner line adds stability as the curvy, diagonal lines of the floor mat add to the impression of dynamic motion. The artist has used a limited colour palette; neutral blacks and greys with cool undertones contrasting with the warmth of the skin tones and the vivid yellow on the floor that balance the composition. The pastels describe textures of smooth skin and soft fabrics.

Erin & Michaela clearly communicates the warm relationship between the two figures. My impression is that the child is comfortable and content but having some difficulty staying perfectly still, as evidenced by the way in which her left hand is thrusting outward. She clearly is enjoying her caregiver’s embrace and her caregiver is fully engaged in keeping the child sitting contentedly. The lack of detail and colour in the neutral clothing works to bring emphasis to the faces and to tie the two figures together so closely that it is difficult, at a glance, to discern which limbs belong to the caregiver and which to the child. This adds to the emotional impact of the work.

In his artist’s statement Dr. Gilbert writes: “As an artist and researcher, I have always aspired to create artworks that authentically illuminate the relationships we all rely on in our lives as patients and caregivers. Portraiture as an art form and qualitative methodology embraces association rather than separation. It is through the interaction between artist and sitter that access is sought and given, connections made, trust built, intimacy negotiated, stories exchanged, and knowledge constructed. Moreover it has the potential to engender intimate social connections that can empower the sitters, viewers, and artists alike”.

Dr. Mark Gilbert is Research Associate with the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University and uses arts-based research methods and narrative inquiry to illuminate the relational skills required in clinical interactions and care giving. The portraits in Seeing the Patient, specifically, rely on the interactions and richness relationships he witnessed between children and young people living with epilepsy and their families.

If the portraits in Seeing the Patient attempt to present patients with epilepsy in an authentic and compassionate manner, they truly succeed. Erin & Michaela, in particular, feels like a celebration of, or monument to, the giving and receiving of care and love. Dr. Gilbert’s impressive technical skills and genuine commitment to his profession have resulted in a wonderful, moving exhibition.


September 27 and October 4 Wine and Posies with Bonny Hill

Wine & Posies ~ Bonny Hill

Join us at AX on Friday, September 27 OR Friday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m. for a sip and craft workshop, hosted by professional contemporary artist Bonny Hill.

The evening will include two hours of instruction, demonstration, and making of paper flower crafts. Each participant will go home with three flowers and the knowledge and skills to recreate them on their own. Bonny has generously offered to donate her time to put on these workshops, with all proceeds going to support AX and its arts and culture programming.

The workshop costs $35/person. Costs include all materials and a glass of wine. Please pre-register for your preferred workshop date by phone at (506) 433-8351 or in person at 12 Maple Ave.

Note there are limited spaces left for both workshops, so register soon if you’re interested.

About Bonny Hill

Bonny Hill taught visual arts in New Brunswick high schools for thirty years before her recent retirement, and has been recognized by the Canadian Society for Education Through Art as “Art Educator of the Year.” As a professional contemporary artist, Bonny was included in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s Studio Watch: Emerging Artists Series for 2016. Bonny sits on the AX Board of Directors and is a dedicated volunteer.

July 10 – August 21 Summer Art Workshops for Children

 Summer Art Workshops for Children Join artist and instructor Martha Hallyburton on Wednesday afternoons from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at AX for children’s art workshops, which offer kids a unique opportunity to explore their creativity and learn more about different methods to express themselves through art. 

April 3, 2019 Drawing Classes ~ Melanie Craig-Hansford

Drawing Classes
with Melanie Craig-Hansford

Wednesdays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
April 3 – May 22

Join artist and instructor Melanie Craig-Hansford on Wednesday afternoons for Drawing Level 1 & 2 classes, which offer participants a unique opportunity to learn about drawing in combined classes that are tailored to their experience level.

In this combined class, which takes place over 8 weeks, Melanie will split the class into two groups: beginner Level 1 and intermediate Level 2.

Drawing Level 1 is for those with limited or no drawing experience. You’ll start with the basics of drawing, work from still-life, and practice the art of “drawing what you see.”

Drawing Level 2 is an intermediate level course suitable to students with previous drawing experience. In this class, Melanie will introduce drawing with coloured mediums such as pastel and coloured pencil.

Individual drawing assignments will be designed for each student with their input.

Drawing Level 1 & 2 is offered on Wednesday afternoons, from 1:00-3:00 p.m., April 3 to May 22. Please note that this workshop takes place in the 2nd floor AX classroom, which is only accessible by climbing a flight of stairs.

Cost: $120 instruction fee for all 8 classes, plus $25 materials fee paid to instructor on first day of class
Pre-registration and payment required by March 28, 4pm. Contact AX at (506) 433-8351 or email

April 2, 2019 Mixed Media

Mixed Media Classes
with Melanie Craig-Hansford

Tuesdays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
April 2 – May 21

AX is pleased to present a new workshops series, Mixed Media, which offers participants a unique opportunity to learn about a wide range of art making materials.

Over a period of eight weeks, artist and instructor Melanie Craig-Hansford will present the history of mixed media artwork and teach you how to incorporate the elements and principals of art into a successful composition. You’ll learn the basics of watercolour and acrylic painting, and work with combinations of ink, markers, pastels, coloured pencils, collage, and many other conventional and non-conventional materials.

Mixed Media is offered on Tuesday afternoons, from 1:00-3:00 p.m., April 2 to May 21. Please note that this workshop takes place in the 2nd floor AX classroom, which is only accessible by climbing a flight of stairs.

Cost: $120 instruction fee for all 8 classes, plus $25 materials fee paid to instructor on first day of class.
Pre-registration and payment required by March 28, 4pm. Contact AX at (506) 433-8351 or email


December 22, 2018 Kids' Holiday Art Workshop

AX is offering a new Holiday workshop for kids! 

Saturday, December 22 from 1-3 pm

$20/child, ages 6-12

Are your kids looking for something to do while you’re out running last-minute errands? Bring them to AX for an afternoon of art making!

Martha Hallyburton will lead the group through a series of winter-themed projects. Using mixed media and a variety of techniques, participants will make a “gradation” recreation of the northern lights, tape art birch trees, snowflakes collages, and more!

Enrolment is limited, so sign up now – call 433-8351 to register over the phone, or visit us at 12 Maple Ave., Sussex, NB.

October 20, 2018 Children's Workshops

Children’s Workshops 

AX is hosting Kids’ Art Workshops again this fall! Ages 6-12, cost $90 per child for four Saturdays of instruction. Workshops will run from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., October 20, 27, November 3, and 10.

Each session, an Expert Instructor (Martha Hallyburton, Rosanna Armstrong, Shaun Chown, Erin McKenna) will teach a new type of art to the children. Lessons and mediums will vary, and participants will be exposed to a wide range of arts and crafts including painting, fibre art, and music.

You can register in person at AX, 12 Maple Ave., or over the phone at (506) 433-8351. Space is limited, so register soon!

July 28, 2018 To Be a Good Writer - Gerard Collins

Do you have an interest in writing and channeling your inner creative? Join us at AX for a creative writing workshop with award-winning Newfoundland writer (and occasional AX Choice Cutshost), Dr. Gerard Collins.

Gerard’s “To Be a Good Writer” workshop will help strengthen your commitment to your own artistry and inspire great writing habits. Come take part in encouraging discussions, writing prompts, and voluntary sharing of personal works that you create on the spot.

“To Be a Good Writer” takes place on Saturday, July 28, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for a cost of $85.

About Gerard 

Gerard Collins is an award-winning Newfoundland writer living in Southern New Brunswick. Besides teaching at MUN and at UNB, he has offered creative writing workshops and retreats in Ireland, Italy, and England, as well as throughout Atlantic Canada.

Gerard’s novel, Finton Moon, was honoured with a Dublin IMPAC international Literary Award nomination in 2014, among other accolades, while his short story collection, Moonlight Sketches, won the 2011 NL Book Award. He is working on several new projects and has been invited to facilitate workshops during Youth Week next summer at Lilydale, New York, as well as to launch a new exhibition at AX in 2019, entitled The Book that Wrote Itself.

April 21, 2018 Cyanotype Photography Workshop

Cyanotype Photography Workshop

with SilverFish photographers Karen Ruet and Denise Rowe

April 21, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Cost: $55, including materials 

Register by April 12 to use your own images. All registrations due April 17.In this workshop, you’ll recreate feathers, translucent objects, and materials from the natural world into cyan and deep navy blue images with the light of the sun.

Karen Ruet and Denise Rowe, professional photographers and participating artists in our current exhibition, will demonstrate mixing chemistry, coating paper, and show you the materials needed to get you started using this technique at home. You’ll also have the option of a short field-trip outdoors to select your own pieces of nature to work with, although it is not a requirement as the instructors will also provide materials. 

If you register by April 12, you can send your own 5×7 image to the instructor, who will prepare it for your use at the workshop. Limited spots available. Must register for the workshop no later than April 17.

Register at AX: the Arts and Culture Centre of Sussex, 12 Maple Ave, Sussex NB, or by calling us at (506) 433-8351. To guarantee your spot, please pay when you register. We can process credit card payment over the phone.